Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun

Lotsa Dogs Lotsa Fun
The Big Dogs Wait at The Door

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dog Rescue Ban Leaves Thousands Vulnerable

This Spring, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture issued a "cease and desist" order to prevent animal shelters and animal rescue organizations from bringing dogs into Massachusetts from out of state, and putting them up for adoption. The only alternative is to house imported dogs in regulated facilities (which the shelters and rescue orgs must buy, establish and maintain); and have them examined by a state-approved veterinarian. The order effectively puts dog rescue organizations out of business.

At The Doggie Den we work with Save A Dog, an all-breed rescue organization based in Framingham, MA. Like virtually all such organizations, it is staffed by volunteers and operates on an extremely tight budget that consists solely of funds that the volunteers raise. On their own time and money, volunteers drive to locations where distressed dogs are being held, and bring the dogs back to Massachusetts. The new arrivals live in volunteer foster homes while they are vaccinated, treated for health problems, and trained so they'll be adoptable. The Doggie Den and other grooming shops groom rescue dogs for free, often to diagnose the extent of coat and skin ailments that may require the volunteer foster parent to take the dog to a vet.

This entire process takes years of organizing, fund raising, skill acquisition, and volunteer training. The D. of A. order sent hundreds of hard working volunteers into shock. It meant that years of dedication were cut short; and speaking of cut short, we cannot help but think of the thousands of animals currently dying of starvation, disease, dehydration, or euthanization because Mass. rescue workers cannot save them. The reason for the D. of A. ban is that unethical opportunists go to states that are known for their plethora of unwanted dogs and bring the dogs back to Massachusetts to sell them. These people often neglect to provide new arrivals with medical care, nutritional support, or training. Their neglect has caused multiple problems, including the discovery of locations where large numbers of sick animals have been abandonned. It falls to the Commonwealth to euthanize these poor creatures.

Within Massachusetts, there are comparatively few adoptable animals to be rescued. In contrast, in some areas of the South there are thousands. To save lives, dog rescue organizations must be able to bring animals in from out-of-state. The only organizations that are currently permitted to do so are established shelters that have facilities that the Mass. D. of A. can inspect, rather than volunteers with adoptable dogs in foster care. Ironically many shelters are less stringent than volunteer rescue orgs. in checking out potential new owners. Rescue orgs. often do home visits, which shelters seldom do. Some state-approved shelters also euthanize dogs that have not been adopted, while rescue volunteers foster, vaccinate, heal, and train dogs until the dogs become adoptable.

Many rescue organizations like Save A Dog are now scurrying around to raise enough money to buy an inspectable facility where new arrivals can be held for adoption. Of course, this is a major undertaking, and some groups will not succeed. If you can help, please do! Rescue organizations need supplies, skills and money. Go to saveadog.org; or any one of a number of breed rescue sites like pugrescuenetwork.org; greyhound.org; and ygrr.oprg (Golden Retrievers). Also check out Especially for Pets in Westboro; The Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury; or the Bay Path Humane Society in Hopkinton.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Daphne can't watch TV anymore since she saw the (gulp) debarked Shelties Posted by Hello

Janet doing behavioral therapy with Nervous Benny Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Debarking? Huh?

Every once in a while I see something about dogs online or on TV that makes me crazy. For example, I never watch America's Funniest Video's because the one time I did, they showed shots of dogs having weird accidents. It looked to me like the dogs were hurt, though not seriously. I was furious, then I saw that they do the same thing with children! There were scenes of toddlers falling down steps and, in one case, into a swimming pool. The audience thought it was hilarious. So a parent can earn thousands of dollars showing their kid having a funny accident. In several of the entries, the child was crying at the end. Guess I shouldn't be surprised that dogs were fair game.

Then the other night I saw a major network feature on debarking dogs. At first I thought it couldn't be what it sounded like. But... lest we not have a clear picture, the producers showed dog after dog having their vocal cords cut or otherwise damaged, as with a laser. Per the usual network practice of "balancing the story", we heard from those who were in favor of this practice, as well as those who were against. Didn't help, as far as I was concerned. One of the dog owners was a Sheltie breeder who had had consistent complaints from neighbors because of barking. So she debarked her dogs! I watched 20 seconds of Shelties in her back yard opening their mouths to emit a sound that resembled a sick cough. Daphne was appalled. She slunk out of the room, looking over her shoulder at me in unmistakable rebuke. I felt ashamed for humans.

Debarking involves cutting the vocal cords, or otherwise impeding their vibration. The dog is anesthezied, then an incision is made under his/her chin. It only takes minutes. Whoopee for efficiency. And the neighbors don't complain... how nice. This practice is barbaric!! It reminds me of another century when prison guards cut peoples' Achilles tendons to prevent them from bolting. It's just one example of the lengths people will go to to avoid the work of training their faithful companions. People will use electric shocks; collars that spray stinging fluids like citronella in their eyes and mouth; prong collars with barbs that dig into the flesh of the dog's throat and damage his/her esophagus; and now surgery, rather than teach the dog how to live with humans. Sorry, but there's no excuse. It's sheer laziness, not to say the need for instant gratification. Would you use a citronella collar to stop your 3 month old daughter from crying??? Would you put barbs around the neck of a toddler who constantly pulls away from you and gets herself into trouble?

I know, dogs are not children. But they are mammels with nerve endings and they hurt. It's just that they don't always show that they're in pain. So a Rottweiler with a prong collar who's dragging his master down the street doesn't look like he's hurt. If it hurt, he would stop, right? WRONG! Lots of dogs don't make the connection between pain and bad behavior. Almost all dogs can make a connection between good behavior and rewards. So why doesn't the guy teach his Rottweiler to walk nicely by giving him lots of hugs and treats when he does well?? It's just too hard, I guess. And then there's the issue of guys and macho dog breeds, but we'll leave that for another post.

The argument was made that some people would have to put their dogs down if they didn't cut their vocal chords. One judge even ordered a dog owner to have it done or euthanize the dog. Thank heavens, that judge no longer issues such orders because someone showed him exactly what's involved, and it repelled him. He now orders people to train their animals or give them up for adoption. Anyway the argument is ridulous. If you can't or won't take the time and effort to teach your dog not to bark, then give your dog to someone who will. Get help!! (from a trained canine behaviorist). It'll cost maybe the price of a dinner for two and a movie.