Archive for December 1, 2008

Newsflash – Your Dog Doesn’t Need to Live on a Farm

This just in, ironically right on the heels of our post on Biscuit

A recent news item featured the story of a young dog who is going to be euthanized because the family that owns him can’t afford to post the bond required to keep him under a local “dangerous dog” law. The article painted a sad picture of the distraught mother and her grief-stricken children. They are, it seems, much to be pitied.

Or are they?

They admit that they purchased the dog “on a whim” knowing nothing about beagles and doing absolutely no research on the breed.

They say that they gave the young dog everything he needed — well, except for training. And, um… maybe enough attention and supervision.  Oh – and they did admit (albeit somewhat begrudgingly) that the dog could be “a bit aggressive” at times.


And those turned out to be fatal mistakes (at least for the dog). Being a typical beagle their pet would catch a scent and promptly run off. His owners admit they got tired of chasing him and that he escaped from them more times than they could count… including the day this fall when he ran off and bit a 7-year old child several times in the face.

The owners were repentant, apologies were made, the bite was reported and the pup was quarantined at home… where he was allowed to escape once again. Authorities were less forgiving this time and the family was told to meet the bonding and other requirements of the local dangerous dog law. They say that they can’t afford to do this — so the dog will have to be euthanized.

The dog’s owners say that they considered giving him up to someone who has lots of room for the dog to roam, but are concerned about the potential liability. After all, if the dog bit someone else they might be sued. So the death order stands.

I’m sitting here trying to figure out what part of this story any sense. Family gets active, high-maintenance dog on a whim. Family doesn’t give the dog proper training or supervision. Family admits dog is aggressive – yet continues to leave him in a situation where he gets loose to run the neighborhood so often they can’t even keep track of the incidents. Dog – as one would expect – eventually bites someone and then is allowed, while in quarantine to escape once again. The family, apparently still in denial, continues to hold on to a false idea that it isn’t their fault that a child has been bitten and an innocent young dog has to die. After all, if he just had enough room to roam, it wouldn’t be a problem — would it?

As we’ve posted here before; there are far more high-energy dogs than farms for them to live on.  It’s rare to find a farmer who doesn’t have all the dogs he wants or needs. Still – the myth that there’s a farm waiting to take in every wild, untrained, out-of-control dog whose owner is tired of it survives.

Do irresponsible people really believe that their dog’s wild misbehavior won’t be a problem around children and free range chickens? That an underpaid, overworked farm family has nothing better to do than feed, train and put up with an aggressive, untrained cast-off suburban pet?

When I was young, parents often told children that a dog had been “sent off to live on a farm” after it was killed.  This story was used whether the dog was accidentally killed, sent to the shelter or euthanized.

We didn’t believe the story. And something tells me that even when irresponsible pet owners indulge in fits of self-absorbed denial try to console themselves with the idea that their dog’s behavior problems arise from living in an “unnatural” urban environment there is a place deep inside them where they realize that they  were the environmental factor that led to the dog’s problem behavior. That it’s their fault. That they failed to give an innocent creature the supervision and guidance it needed to survive in the world. And I hope that maybe, even if they can’t admit it to themselves, they learn enough from their failures to have more respect for the next life that’s put into their keeping.

December 1, 2008 at 3:11 am 9 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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December 2008