Leashed dogs don’t kill wildlife and aren’t killed by wildlife

I feel compelled to comment on the news story of the two dogs killed by a group of five coyotes in the Fred J. Cusimano Westside Overland Trail. According to a popular Trail Guide, This long-distance linear trail strings through a series of state forests in Chautauqua County. The multiple trailheads allow hikers to vary the hike’s length; established shelters allow overnight stays and stargazing. Special attractions: Changing forest, meadow and pond habitats, agricultural easements, rural and forest views, wildlife, solitude, overnight shelters.

Apparently a cross country skier brought along his two dogs.  Somewhere along the way, the dogs met with wildlife (coyotes) and the dogs were killed.  Naturally, the press is all over this, with scary headlines and reports of “groups of coyotes killing domestic animals”- naturally this is all  designed to make watchers tune in and gasp at the horror of their story, after all, it IS the news.  The ones that will ultimately pay the price will be the coyotes- All coyotes.

While I certainly sympathize with any individual who loses a dog in a tragic manner, Coyotes are not to blame here.  This is a wildlife area.  If the dogs were under their owners control as they should have been, instead of running at large, this would never have happened.  Human presence is a strong deterrent to wildlife/ domestic animal confrontations in any situation. I did hear that one of these dogs were partially eaten by the time the owner had arrived on the scene- there must have been quite a elapse of time  for one of the animals to have been partially eaten.  Why was the owner so far away from his dogs?  Did his dogs begin the chase?  This is not a case where the owner and leashed dogs were strolling through suburbia or the city and were attacked by coyotes.  This is a case where while cross country skiing in a wildlife area, uncontrolled dogs running at large met with a tragic end.  Dogs running at large not only often kill wildlife, but can be killed themselves by a variety of means, coyotes being one of them. If we are going to demonize coyotes, then we must also demonize automobiles, people with guns, snares set by trappers, poisons, attacks by other domestic dogs, bobcats and all other means with which dogs running at large are killed.   The fact that this attack by coyotes is newsworthy is proof of the rarity of this event.  Dogs getting hit by cars, shot, caught in traps or poisoned is certainly not newsworthy because it happens every day, yet people still allow their dogs to run loose. Keep your dogs safe from being killed by one of many different means by keeping them leashed and under control at all times.

The guys who like to hunt and trap coyotes for sport are pounding their chests and looking for praise from the general public frightened by the graphic news story. “See? they say ” See? We told you so!” they brag.  “Coyotes are dangerous animals, they are going to eat your children – but us manly men will protect you by killing them!” Little does the general public realize that the surge in the resulting coyote deaths will cause the coyote population to jump in response to the killing.  Trying to control coyotes by killing them is like trying to put out a fire with kerosene.  They will breed faster and more indiscriminately, having larger litters and populations will then be skewed to the young.  Larger litters need larger prey to feed them.  Larger numbers of young coyotes will create more trouble, as it is generally young coyotes that are culprits when and if the rare event of trouble arises.

So just what is the solution?  If you don’t want your domestic animals harmed, keep them close.  Most parks have rules that require dogs to be leashed at all times.  A leashed dog doesn’t kill wildlife and a leashed dog isn’t killed by wildlife.  Usually, where dogs are concerned, it is the wildlife that ends up dead and mauled by the dogs, this story has a little different twist for once.

The Responsibility of Dog Ownership

DogBeing in dog rescue, it never ceases to amaze me what humans do to animals.  There are responsibilities to pet ownership.

These responsibilities include:

The proper feeding of nutritious foods to their pets- not the cheapest junk one can find at the Big box store.  Just because your dog eats  it doesn’t mean it can be converted to something their bodies can use. There is some pretty nasty stuff on the market, filled with soy, corn, cheap vitamins and minerals that are basically nutritionally unavailable

Proper socialization.  Most dogs at shelters are there because the people failed to socialize and gently teach their dogs which behaviors are appropriate and which are inappropriate. Then , they turn their dogs into the shelter and say the dog has no manners! They turn in dogs that jump on people, don’t walk on a leash without pulling hard, dogs that are shy because they haven’t been around people and different places.  Dogs that are aggressive with other dogs and cats because they haven’t been taken out and properly learned to meet and greet other animals. Dogs that don’t know how to sit, stay, lay down or come when called  because they were never taken to puppy training class.  Dogs that knew nothing because the family members were all doing something different to “train” the dog because they weren’t taught that consistency is the key. Some dogs are actually taught obedience through punishment rather than reward! Total lack of education on the part of the owners.

Getting your pets spayed and neutered is also a responsibility.  Whether pure bred or not.  A lot of people don’t neuter their purebred dogs thinking they will breed it and make some money.    This practice is simply greedy, irresponsible and harmful to all animals.  It more creates more unwanted dogs, more dogs in the shelters that end up being euthanized.

People that don’t spay their mixed breed dogs because they don’t want to spend the money on them shouldn’t have a dog.  Here is a simple rule: If you can not afford to properly care for your dog, and that includes  good food, spay or neuter, vaccinations, medical care when the lack of fencing allows them to be hit by a car – then don’t get a dog!  Some people actually allow their females in heat to run loose, get bred with a male that is also running loose, then when there are puppies born, they either advertise “free puppies” or they simply dump the newborn puppies.    What is wrong with people??

Giving away unwanted puppies or even adult dogs is a irresponsible act.  You committed to the situation, deal with it. One may think they found good homes, but what they really got in many cases where another irresponsible home from someone who doesn’t realize the responsibility of pet ownership.  Does one really think their free puppy will be properly fed, spayed or neutered or kept from being hit on the road?  Another thing that people don’t know is there is a whole underground world   of experimental laboratories and dog fighters actively looking for free and low cost puppies. A Rochester man  and woman regularly advertise for wanting puppies.  He says he gives them all of their shots and then places them in loving homes.  It is widely suspected that these puppies actually are sold to labs to be used for experiments.  This , and other people in this trade are very crafty and good at making themselves look like a family wanting a puppy.  They even bring kids along with them to look real. Free dogs and puppies often end up as bait and practice for dog fighting rings. People “adopting” these dogs are masters at deception.

When a dog is suddenly unwanted or inconvenient, people often take the dogs out for a ride in the car and dump them, assuming that some kind person will come along and care for their dog.  This is tragic and irresponsible.  I have seen a lot of these dogs slaughtered on the roads, or shot by people who are afraid of them.  Many, when picked up by the dog warden are then euthanised when no one claims them.  It is rarely the idyllic end that people think their dog had.

Here is a favorite…. an ad in the paper that says “moving, can’t take dog”.  If you know you rent, or you know your future is insecure, then don’t get a dog! If you have to move, then find a place where you can move with your dog, don’t just throw the dog out.  What if the new place said “no kids” would you dump the kids? Hopefully not, but honestly, I wonder about a lot of people.  If you have to move, you made the commitment, take your dog too.

If you know you have a large breed puppy, then expect the dog to be very large when it grows up.  I have seen over and over again “the dog is too large, it has to go.” In Great Pyrenees Rescue, we see this a lot.

If you don’t have children yet, and decide when the baby comes along you will give the dog away because of myriad reasons, you should not get a dog!  “New baby and the dog must go!” this is a common one for the dog rescues. Very irresponsible. Have some foresight folks.

If you live near a road, and most people do, have a fence or a tie out, or invisible fence and keep your dog off the road and away from the neighbors homes.  It is your responsibility.  The cost of a fence is far less costly  in most cases than that initial vet visit when your dog is hit by a car.

There should not be a such thing as an “outside dog”. People actually chain their dogs to dog houses and there they stay. Out of sight and out of mind. Imagine being locked in a room for your entire life.  Dogs are bred to be companions to man.  To chain them out to a dog house away from the home and way from interaction with people is sentencing the dog to a life time of torture.  I have seen dog houses at the farthest end of peoples property. The dogs are always chained out there, living their lives in solitary confinement and often in brutal weather conditions.  They live like that and die like that, chained outside.  If that is how you intend to keep your dog, then why not just get a stone dog statue to look at instead?   There are groups that bring awareness to dogs chained like this.  If you know of a dog chained out, and you have Internet access (and I know you do!) a simple search will reveal groups in your area that can help.

There are many more examples of irresponsible pet ownership, and if you would like to comment on this blog and post your “pet peaves” I will gladly post them.

Taking Chances on Internet Rescues

Bear on truckA year and a half ago, a fellow “Great Pyrenees person” sent me a picture of a Pyr in a shelter in Kentucky. New to Pyrs, and totally in love with them, I was obviously a clear target  :0)  This particular Pyr was probably featured on a internet group list . He had been surrendered for the third time to a shelter and was likely slated for euthanasia shortly as his time had run out. I saw a rather unflattering picture of him, and decided that if transport could be arranged from Kentucky, that I would take and foster this Pyr until a good home could be found. A week later at 1:30 am, the transport had arrived and I made the 25 minute ride to the meeting point. A tired couple loaded a cooperative Pyr, and a funny looking Mexican Hairless dog that had missed his connection, into my car. I talked to the dogs all the way home, and was impressed with what a good listener the Pyr, named “Bear” was. The Mexican hairless, on the other hand, was quite vocal and not a good listener at all. When we got home I settled in the Mexican Hairless dog and decided to take “Bear”, the Pyr for a walk to stretch his legs out after his very long trip from Kentucky to Virginia to New Hampshire to New York. I was impressed with Bear’s gentle, intelligent demeanor and his willingness to make the best of any situation. We had a fun walk and I found myself thinking about ways to fit him into the family. As you can probably guess, Bear is now a permanent member of my family. We have, in fact turned down quite a few offers of homes for him, and even a tidy amount of money from people who saw in him as the “perfect dog” . When people come to see other dogs that I am trying to place, I now have to hide Bear because once they see Bear, they want him or a dog just like him and the other dogs suddenly seem less desirable. He is the perfect combination of intelligent, fun, protector and companion. When I look back I can’t help but marvel at the way he came to me. A picture on the internet and a plea. Who would have thought that this magnificent animal ever could have been in such a place in his life? I guess the moral of the story is that if Bear could have been there, there surely must be others just like him out there too, needing someone to just say “Yes” and take a chance. In return, there is is much that they give us.

Check out Bears pictures in our photo gallery from the list on the left.

A new group that will help you find the perfect Great Pyrenees dog for you has recently been formed. It is the National Great Pyrenees Rescue. They will have a web site up and running soon and I will have a permanent link to their page on my blog as well as my website shortly.