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.
The 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.
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.
Adults 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.
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?
On 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.