A Dog Named Jim

Did you hear about the story in Wisconsin where the police had to step up patrol at a local humane society after they started getting threats over euthanizing a dog?  Yeah, pretty crazy stuff.

humanesocietyThe dog in question was named Jim and was a handsome fellow.  His eyes were expressive and he was well behaved and gentle behind the camera. After being adopted out, though, he started showing signs of aggression.  There were several incidents where he bit, so he was soon labeled as a vicious dog and brought back to the shelter.  He was quickly adopted again where he hurt someone so bad they had to have stitches.


Of course the question on everyone’s mind is should Jim have been adopted out in the first place?  What about a second time?  Well, the answer is that he likely shouldn’t have been the first time, but the second time, probably not.  That is a whole other can of worms, though, that we aren’t going to get in to today.  What we do know for sure, though, is that the shelter had to make the responsible choice to put Jim down, a choice that caused them to receive threats.

Now I’m sure everyone knows that nobody (other than possibly PETA) wants to put an animal down.  In fact, that very humane society takes pride in its rate of live releases, and it really wanted the same thing for Jim.  Once you have done everything you can for a dog that has, on many occasions, bit to where it is required to get medical attention, you have to put the safety of the public and any future adopters first.  It is always heartbreaking to put down a dog that is healthy otherwise, but there are so many other animals out there who can be adopted out safely and responsibly who would love to have a forever home too.

But now, instead of accepting the fact that even shelters have to make the hard decisions at times, instead of discussing the non-biting animals available, there are lunatics that threatened to burn down an animal shelter.  This is crazy, folks, whether there is any real danger of the shelter being burned down or not.


Animal Assisted Therapy

I know of no animal lover that would be surprised by this following statement:  AAT (or Animal Assisted Therapy) can lend itself to being a big contributor with a lot of positive results when treating problems in children that deal with emotional, social, physical, or cognitive issues.  This has been proven time and time again.  Even teachers use animals in the classroom to help children with the skills they need in life.

istock_000016808341xsmallAdults have been documented on numerous occasions with a reduction in pain severity as well as anxiety through the use of animal assisted therapy.  There is also a massive amount of evidence that supports animal visitations and their benefits for children that are suffering with mental or physical trauma.  There is still a long ways to go when it comes to collecting the evidence of this and measuring the results.

So far, though, we have seen great results with children who are hospitalized becoming more and more independent, having less fear of their treatment or experience, a reduction in pain, and having much better appetites than those not receiving the AAT.  There have been many autistic children that have shown a huge improvement with the presence of a therapy dog also.

Therapy dogs, like most all working animals, seem to love the work they do, so it’s a win win situation!  They are very happy when they are around their people and love the petting, the fawning, and all of the attention.  Yes, I know, such a hard “job” for them to work at!  It is certainly an arrangement that is mutually beneficial!


Animal assisted therapy is one of the finest examples of the human and animal bond that we have.  This is a quickly growing field of study that we are certain will continue to yield many more benefits as it is explored even further.



Animal Based Research

There has been a story recently in the news that you perhaps overlooked because it wasn’t made a big deal of. There were some very important findings lately, though, that everyone should hear about. There were two studies done recently on the drug Truvada, and antiviral.  This drug was given to several hundred individuals that were at a high risk for getting an HIV infection.  This drug proved to be 100% effective in HIV prevention in this study!  It also was able to reduce the infection by a whopping 86% in other individuals.

Now, let’s take a step back for a minute and take this information in.  Twenty to thirty years ago, can you remember where HIV treatments were then? This news is a huge step forward in the fight against HIV!

mzzn6963-1344406314I am sure that everyone understands that this pill is no magic bullet.  Not only that, but there are quite a few known side effects from this drug such as dizziness, headache, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, trouble sleeping, and joint pain.  Overall, though, these findings are very promising since they are able to bring us a little closer to not just controlling this horrible disease, but to eventually being able to eradicate it all around the world.

Now, you may be wondering why we are talking about HIV on a page about animal welfare.  Well, the answer is a pretty simple one.  Like many other medications, this one would not be available if it weren’t for research that was animal based.  Oftentimes this fact is glossed over, but it is a vital piece of information when new breakthroughs happen. With that piece of knowledge, while we celebrate this drug and all of the other advance in medicine, it is also important to know and appreciate the positive role that the animal based research played, and continues to play, in our lives to improve the health of both humans and animals.


Dog Breeders

rough-collie-dog-1365447402yrjThere was recently a huge, crazy outrage because a Collie was bought from a breeder by a director at a shelter.  Yep, what a horrible thing (eye roll). Her husband that works at surreyroofing.org fell in love with the breed and insisted on a full blooded Collie. There were quite a few petitions going around and then some attacks from activists online (harassment charges were brought against two of them) because of her buying instead of adopting. Of course it can be pretty easy to get in that absurd totalitarian mindset and to point out the flaw in this because of the contradictions in someone who should be an activist moving forward in adopting from a breeder.

But, hey, let’s not fret about it too long.  There are so many things that a good breeder can offer us.

We truly need responsible, reputable breeders in our communities.  These people work really hard to protect and preserve certain breeds of dogs, screen for diseases in their dogs, do everything they can to get rid of health problems, and provide the community with dogs that are healthy and well tempered. Good breeders do not increase the number of dogs that are homeless, no matter what any activist tries to tell you.  In fact, a breeder who is good sells only through a contract and offers to take a dog back if the owner is unable to provide the care the dog needs. A lot of these same people work in rescues for their breed, helping to keep these dogs out of the shelters.

It’s a given that people want to have dogs.  Many think that people actually need dogs.  So you know what?  If there weren’t breeders around, people would still sell dogs to others, the only thing that would be different is that it would be underground sales.  There would be no regulations in place, no contracts, no accountability, and no guarantees.  The main goal would be to move the product.  This is precisely what we don’t want to happen.

If that weren’t enough, remember that good breeders not only sell to individuals but also provide service dogs for our military, police, and special needs citizens.

It is appalling the number of people that attached the shelter director because she chose to buy a dog from a breeder.  We will always cheer for the breeders who passionately provide the communities with healthy, loving pets.


Being a Responsible Rescue

There are a lot of humane societies and rescues that are still struggling with some of the same issues that were being dealt with twenty to thirty years ago by dog breeders: how can you best, in an honest and open manner, confront bad practices and players so you can solve some of the many problems that they have created and, at the same time, keep the example they are putting forth from defining the whole group?

6pw6psjh_400x400On one side of the coin, the task faced by the rescues and humane societies is easier than when the breeders face the same problems because there are no organizations, movements, or ideologies that are determine to destroy them.  On the other side of the coin, though, the job can seem harder because of the times we live in.  We see headlines regularly that announce “Scandalous!” “Inhumane!” “Shocking!” and other such things that are linked to organizations that exist to help animals and are what click-bait is defined as.  It can be easy to sensationalize stories when it is something that people have an emotional investment that is strong in.  It only makes it worse when there is dishonesty or hypocrisy of a supposed authority that should be beyond moral corruption. To top that off, there is also a highly vocal, large contingent that is within the shelter and rescue community that sees any kind of criticism that comes their way as an attack that must be squashed or deflected instead of something to be discussed.

So is this a hard and complicated task to move forward in?  No doubt.  That does not mean that humane societies and rescues should remain silent about how some of their animals are being moved around and placed in homes these days, though, in a way that is inhumane, without much oversight, and irresponsibly.  We applaud and humane society or rescue that is willing to stand up and listen to the concerns that are made then work to do something about them.


The Deceptions of the Animal Rights Movement

lg-nlg-animal-rights-eventThe movement for animal rights is the only US social movement that has a history of working with criminals in the underground, ones that the FBI have actually named as single issue terrorists.  Of course the leadership of the animal rights movement never seem to condemn acts of violence as long as they are carried out for their cause which, in itself, represents part of this radical and unethical movement. Most of the animal rights groups only seem to work towards their own fundraising purposes through exploiting problems with animal welfare. Many times, their campaigns to raise money are merely raising concerns about a business that uses animals somehow, telling people how cruel they are so they can take the moral high ground and raise some money in the process. The HSUS and ASPCA just recently paid out $15.75 million and $9.3 million respectively to the owning company of Ringling Bros circus in order to settle a suit where they paid someone to go on the witness stand against the circus and give a testimony that was not credible.

The legal status of animals is another area that the proponents of animal rights and animal welfare tend to disagree on.  The advocates for animal welfare call for laws that protect animals.  Those who are on the side of animal rights push to give rights to animals, an idea that would require the legal status of animals to change.  This would also need to put into place administrators in government that would make decisions, or be the voice for, the animals.  At it’s core, the movement in animal rights is about politics, not about improving the care of the animals. It is about power for them.  It is more specifically about deciding on how to best treat the animals, and whether there will even be private ownership of animals at all, or if the animals will be given a sanctuary for refuge from human use and ownership.  The ideology of animal rights would be to separate animals from people and forever sever the bond between humans and animals.

The Western ethical tradition is the framework that the principles of animal welfare come from.  It is a tradition that looks for tolerance for diversity and the views of the minority and then uses education and knowledge to advance its cause rather than using coercion.  Just looking at the animal rights leaderships willingness to work with illegal factions and to misrepresent their motives and beliefs shows how different they are from the animal welfare faction.



Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare

A lot of times, proponents of animal welfare will also call themselves advocates for animal rights because, to them, the term appears to represent their beliefs, but animal rights and animal welfare are based off of completely different beliefs and they achieve their goals using totally different tactics. Animal rights proponents are against using animals in any way, shape or form, no matter how humanely or how responsibly they are used. On the other hand, animal welfare proponents believe in the responsible use of animals as long as it is humane.  The animal rights position motto from PETA shows their position quite well, demonstrating their system of beliefs that animal abuse and animal use are one in the same. They claim that animals are not ours to use for entertainment, to eat, to experiment on, to wear, or in any other way to abuse.

an_animal_rights_activist_fromEven though the activists for animal rights use issues of animal welfare to promote their agenda in their campaigns, their beliefs on animal rights are in conflict with the views of around ninety four percent of Americans, who are meat eaters. Not only that, but out of those who are vegetarians and omnivores, a large percentage of them keep family pets, hunt or fish, go to zoos and circuses, ride horses and/or use animals in some form or fashion.  They also often enjoy the benefits that come from animals being used for medical advances.  Overall, Americans are mostly unaware of the animal rights activists true agenda. That is likely the way the activists want it, though, considering how they, when speaking to the public, hide their true beliefs under rhetoric about animal welfare to mislead about their true agenda to their audience.  When speaking to their loyal followers, though, they tend to state all of their positions clearly.  The campaigns for animal rights will often use deceptions that are strategically against businesses and owners that use animals. Many times, people that see themselves as advocates for animal rights are just animal loving people that are interested in helping to improve the lives of animals.  They do not know the path that has been charted by the radical animal rights leadership.



The Types of Animal Abuse

There are quite a few programs and policies that have been developed over the years to improve the standards of care for animals and for their well being.  Proponents for animal welfare are also constantly working towards ending the abuse of animals.

perro-encadenadoThere are many forms of animal abuse, but to keep it simple, we can break them up into two categories:  the first is harm that comes from an act that is deliberate, and the second is the abuse that comes from negligence (the failure to take proper steps).  Many times, the lines are blurred between the things that are intentional and the things that are not. After that is decided, cases are decided based on the facts from the specific case. There are felony laws in every state now against animal cruelty, but the way these cases are designated varies from state to state, as does the punishment that goes along with the crime.  This can make it hard for those who are fighting against animal abuse because what is prosecuted in one state may not be prosecuted in the next.

There are many cases when abuse in the form of neglect can be just ignorance on the part of the pet owner, such as them not recognizing that veterinary treatment is needed for their pet, or in situations when a person allows a behavior to continue that harms the animals but they do not realize it is doing so.

Overt cruelty is often an abuse that animals face.  There are many deliberate acts of cruelty towards animals including activities like dog fighting, beating animals, maiming them, torturing animals, or anything else that leads to severe pain or injury to the animal involved, even death.  The most severe penalties are given to those who perform these deliberate acts not just for the immediate harm they impose or their shocking nature, but because of the link that is well known these days between abusing animals and performing violent behaviors towards other people.




Animal Welfare Ordinances

There are a wide variety of ideas between the general public and animal professionals on how people should humanely treat their animals.  This is a controversy that is widely debated and questioned when trying to accomplish animal welfare goals. Settings that are institutional that provide intensive confinement have to protect animals from extreme weather and predators as well as provide the animals with fresh water and wholesome food, but people typically do not trust these places to provide animal welfare at the same level that the animals received in the pasture from the past.  Because of this, a lot of resources are spent in the US today to address these concerns, making this the primary focus of animal welfare.

1024x1024Despite how well the animals are cared for in institutional settings and close confinement systems, these places seem very unnatural to those looking in from the outside.  Such places include dog breeding kennels, parks where exotic animals are viewed, zoos, and large farms where a lot of animals live closely together.  These businesses are constantly exploring new practices and approaches in their animal care but, because of how these places appear, critics believe that the welfare of the animals is not good.

With the public being concerned about the institutional settings with potential substandard care of animals, the laws governing these animals have grown tremendously locally, state wide, and in the federal government.  Multiple agencies are being asked to perform inspections on a single business oftentimes because of the increased mount of regulations that have been put into place. The federal government is continuously putting more laws into places that govern commercial dog kennels, laboratory animals, the humane slaughter of animals on a farm, and care for animals in the circus and in zoos around the nations.  Local laws also continue to expand their ordinances in regards to having animals and breeding dogs, as well as a lot of other things that were, in the past, done in a setting that was rural.



What is Animal Welfare?

background-animal-welfareOftentimes, people will use the terms animal rights and animal welfare to mean the same thing, suggesting that the two ideas represent the exact same principles, practices, and concerns.  The differences between these terms are quite significant, though.

To put is simply, animal welfare refers to the relationships we humans have with the Earth’s animals and our duty to assure that those animals that are under our care are treated as responsibly and humanely as possible.

The interest in animal welfare is not something that is a modern idea, despite its popularity in today’s world. At least ten thousand years ago when animals were being domesticated in Neolithic times, people were concerned for the welfare of animals. It was that care for the animals that led to domestication of animals, animal husbandry (breeding and caring for animals), and animal agriculture.  The development of agriculture is considered, by many historians, to be one of the most important human history events.

In the Neolithic era, the animal welfare practices that were formed put people in a position where they were obliged to consider the welfare of their animals in order for their own purposes to be achieved. They began to see how, through taking care of the animals, the animals would in turn take care of them.  Because of this, their own self-interest demanded that they treat their animals well. This exact same ethic is still around today, mostly in places where taking care of animals hand-on happens.  This human-animal bond is a very special relationship.

At Colorado State University, an animal science professor named Dr. Bernard Rollin believes that the technology of the twentieth century broke the ancient contract because it allowed we humans to harm animal’s well being by putting them into environments and to uses that increased their productivity but actually did the animal harm.

This idea is the challenge of today’s world.  We have to be able to provide animal welfare in this nation that is urbanized and technological rather than rural and agricultural.  These days, only about two percent of Americans live on farms, with only half that farming as their primary occupation.  In the 1800’s, ninety percent of people were farmers in America. If we continue to see this trend, concentrated farming will become more the norm, making the welfare of the animal even more critical.