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« Factors Associated w/ Aggressive Responses in pet dogs | Main | 2012 Year in Review -- Top 10 Posts of 2012 »

January 02, 2013

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Steve

can they start a spay/neuter and release program at least so the dogs don't keep growing in numbers and the hormones are knocked down a bit??

Randy

Very sad story. It does point out a couple of issues though. While I realize many do not like animal services it does point out why they were formed in the first place. It was not because they hated animals it was because situations like this were more common through out the US. Most have never seen it so do not have an appreciation for it. Second it points out how different folks can be on how they view what we call companion animals. Most on this blog I would assume view companion animals as well kept house pets with vet care and in some cases the perks of a small child. Others however just view them as things that are they much like a wild bird and have no real emotional attachemnt to them. Guess that is why it is so hard to try and reach a reduced kill status since many just do not care. The spay nueter realese idea might have merit but I supsect the costs would be prohibative.

Brent

Steve, while I definitely think out-of-the-box thinking is required on this, I think that TNR for dogs is an unlikely outcome. The safety risks of having packs of wild dogs roaming are pretty obvious, not just from tragedies like this one, but also because of potential rabies issues.

Randy, agreed on the animal control front. It serves a very important role in public safety (and I've visited a couple of Indian Reservations, and even as a dog-lover the mass number of stray dogs is disconcerting). However, I think all too often animal control has become JUST about public safety -- and I think it should be held accountable for the safety of both the public, and the animals that are put in its care. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Randy

Steve, agree with your thoughts on animal control. The bottom line challange is what do you do with the mass numbers. Killing, adoption, and spay neuter have been the historical remedy. If we want eliminate the killing which I think all would want too then we have to really raise the adoptions and really increase the spay neuter aspect. Nature would take care of it if left alone I suppose although it would not be too pretty. Since we have decided to defeat those natural mechanisms then it is incumbant on us to do the right thing and try to make spay and neuter a priority.

Randy

Sorry, guess my last message was meant for Brent. And by the way thanks for all your hard work on this site!

Jamie Horton

I live near and work on the Navajo reservation at a coal mine. As you can imagine there has been a lot of talk about stray and feral dogs lately. I have been a shelter reform advocate and dog rescuer for years so I come at it from a different perspective than many of my co-workers. Most of my co-workers live on the reservation, raise sheep, poison coyotes, leave their dogs unaltered outside and shoot other peoples' dogs who are chasing their sheep. Even after saying that I assert that they are good people and I know that education can make an impact. I have one guy willing to get all of his dogs and cats fixed when a free or low-cost spay/neuter clinic becomes available. Unfortunately I don't know of any! He is responsible in the fact that he keeps his males and females separated but they really need to be fixed. And I like to think that if he gets his animals fixed he can be an influence on his neighbors. He is an older guy so he is conceivably a well-respected elder.

I frequently give long speeches about the ethical obligations owed to dogs (and cats but the conversation is usually about dogs) by our long association and domestication of dogs. They really do listen but I can't guarantee it changes their behavior much but I have seen inroads. While they don't feed the strays on site, themselves, they will let me know when they have seen one, especially if it is one I am worried about. One guy was actually more than willing to come in on his day off to help me rope a particularly skittish male. Fortunately I think I have a way to live-trap him since I am sure being roped would be more traumatic than a live animal trap. They are good guys who have simply never had their particular thinking challenged. They were born, raised, schooled, and work on the reservation so it's very much a different culture and world. (The other day it was as mundane as a cheese ball being foreign to them and ground bread was foreign to me).

I think it would be a mistake for organizations to come onto the reservation basically making proclamations of "here are your wrong-doings and this is how we, the white community, shall fix them for you." It absolutely has to be something supported by the tribe and the politics have the potential to be a little sticky. I can get away with my soliloquies because I am only a single person talking to people who already know and like me. An outside organization has to be diplomatic just as if they are working with another country and not come across as imperialistic.

Low cost or free spay/neuter is not readily available in our area and I know for sure that money is a huge deterrent to people fixing their animals. Many live in poverty but even when they are not poor they frequently don't put quite the same value on spending money on animals like I do. They like and generally love their animals and they don't like seeing so many strays so they are definitely interested in neutering if it was easier for them to take advantage of it. I know there have been a few mobile units that go through on occasion but not nearly frequently enough to make a dent in the population. Honestly if there was a local spay/neuter clinic I think there could even be volunteers who come get peoples' pets, get them fixed, and then return them. This would work well in the border areas where there is a denser population and thus there are generally a fair number of strays.

But, honestly, it is not just the reservation. Off the reservation we have our own animal sheltering issues which are not conducive to working with the tribe on theirs. If I don't have the ability to take on one of the mine dogs myself or I don't have a rescue who can take one I would rather simply keep feeding them at work than take them to the shelter where they would be almost guaranteed to be killed. If I could trust the shelters or have more rescues able to take in the dogs I, and others like me, took off the rez we could save a significant number. Gosh, in the 18 months I have been out here I have personally rescued 8 dogs. I haven't been looking for them but they happened to be in the most need and were friendly enough to catch.

While I know they must exist, I have never met an aggressive rez dog. I have known dogs scared enough that I am sure they would attack if you cornered them but even the skinniest dog backs off if I approach their food. There are dogs that break my heart because they are very shy about getting petted the first time I meet them but you can tell in their little tail wags that they want to be friends but are nervous about you.

Unfortunately with this death there has been more scrutiny of the dogs in the area. A mine environmental agent came out Thursday because of a report on the dogs. He was thinking they must have been a danger but luckily he stopped by my office and I gave him the full story. I think I saved their lives because now he is willing to work with me rather than having them rounded up and killed. I just wish I had a rescue group lined up to take what I could trap. He is the one who is going to help me trap the skittish male who is the mate to the mom and puppies I caught last week. I feel sorry for him all alone and cold without his family but he doesn't let me get within 5 feet of him.

Spay/Neuter, shelter reform, rescue, and education is what my corner of the reservation needs and I can only assume that it is the same way on the entire reservation. I just wish there was a larger organization with the money, man-power, and logistics to make this a project.

db

@Jamie
Bless your heart for the important work you are doing. There ARE large organizations that could handle this sort of thing, but they choose not to. They are too busy creating tear-jerking ads to raise money to actually get out and do something like this. (Rant over)

You are making a difference for the animals you can help, and you might not realize it, but you are likely influencing more people than you think.

Is there anyway to contact those occasional mobile spay/neuter groups to set up a regular schedule? I can imagine the need is huge, but they might be willing to make monthly visits to your location.

Jamie Horton

@db
I know exactly what organizations you are ranting about and I rant the same way in some of my many "teaching moments" with my co-workers. These are not truly my co-workers as I work for a contractor employed by the company they are with so there is no sort of work obligation to listen to me. They give me coffee and sit me down to listen to my stories. They humor me like that because I think they think I am weird and exotic.

The only mobile spay/neuter group I personally know of is the Rural Area Veterinary group and they seem to have a schedule created well in advance. The Navajo reservation is the largest in the country and it really needs at least one mobile unit focused entirely on it. The reservation is 27,000 square miles so there is a lot of ground to cover.

So, yeah, there are definitely challenges, not unique, impossible-to-address challenges, but I try to do what I can and I know there are other people doing what they can and we can make a difference for the critters we can save. There are various activities on the reservation and it would be nice if there was some way to coordinate them to make maximum impact.

I do believe that shelter reform for the two local shelters that take in county dogs would be extremely beneficial for not only the dogs and cats in town but also for the animals on the reservation, too.

Dianne R

Scotlund Hasley's group Animal Rescue Corps has done work with native americans in Quebec. They are not a big rescue, but Scotlund is very determined to make a difference. (He was the CEO of Washington Animal Rescue League, and designed the new humane shelter).

http://animalrescuecorps.org/2011/11/a-humane-solution-for-dogs-in-quebec/

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