Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Living with the consequences

Yesterday at work I saw a horrific leg injury on a dog. It's back leg was dangling and held on by just a few pieces of skin. It appeared that someone had shot him. He is a shepherd mix that had been running loose. (photo above) It was one of those injuries where the only course of treatment will be an amputation. Unfortunately the owner needed to be found before specific decisions could be made. He had a collar but no tags or microchip. I don't currently know the outcome of his case since he was transferred to the local shelters vet's office for supportive care in the meantime.
Because of the possibility of the owner not being able to afford the surgery once found, and the lack of funds the shelter may have for his costly surgery if he ends up with them, our fabulous animal control officer has started a fund to help with situations like these. This should help this poor guy and hopefully any others where time is an issue for treatment of unowned pets that need care in the future. I am not one to ask for money on here, but a donation of even 5 or 10 dollars can add up if we all contribute together. If not to this cause, donate to your breed rescue group or own local shelter. Unfortunately we are going to be seeing many more pets in shelters due to the economy.

Camden National Bank
For the Benefit of Injured Animals
C/O ACO Cj Virgie
PO Box 880
Rockland, ME 04841

A few weeks ago we had a client with a dog that ran loose regularly come in with a huge laceration. They had no idea how it happened of course since the dog ran loose on their large wooded property. We stitched him up and gave instructions to keep him in and watch him closely. The wound was in an odd spot on the body that was prone to reopening if he was to active. Of course they didn't keep him in or supervise him so he was back in a couple of times for re suturing. Visits that could have been avoided if they had simply kept the dog safe at home. Their answer was that it wasn't possible for them to do.

These are just a couple of examples of the consequences of decisions pet owners make. What stuck me about the second case was their complete lack of worry about their actions, or lack thereof, for their dog. I guess since they could afford the cost of the care it didn't matter. Forget about the pain involved for the dog. Heaven forbid they be inconvenienced for a couple of weeks while their dog heals. They got off lucky considering the other story of the dog that was shot.

I don't know why someone would shoot a dog. Perhaps they don't like dogs. Maybe the dog has been a continual nuisance and they got tired of it. Maybe they were just trying to scare it off. Or maybe they are scared of dogs. In our state it is actually legal to shoot a dog if you see one chasing deer. (I am unsure if that only applies during hunting season or not.)

Some people think that letting their dogs roam is perfectly ok and they want them to have the freedom to do so. I would say these are just two pretty good examples of what can go wrong with dogs enjoying unsupervised freedom. If owners want to live with the consequences that come with that freedom for their dog then I suppose that is a risk they are willing to take. What people need to consider is they aren't the only ones living with those consequences, the dogs are too. And the dogs have no idea running in front of a car, chasing deer, or being on the lawn of a person with a loaded gun is a bad idea that can cause them great pain and in some cases even death.

When making decisions for our pets, regarding the freedom they have, the food they eat, and even the health care we provide, we need to consider what is the worst case scenario of those choices. Are they ones that both we and our pets will be comfortable living with? It is something more people need to consider. Even something as trivial as adding a tag to a collar can make a huge difference. Think of the time that could have been saved, and pain avoided, had we been able to find the shot dogs owner quickly. Sometimes even the little things can mean alot.

( P.S. Dogs can live a great life on only 3 legs. Check out this website FMI http://www.tripawds.com/ )


jan said...

I can't count the times I've had to swerve on country roads to avoid hitting a dog. People think because they live in rural areas their dogs can run free. Dogs need protection and training no matter where they live.

just in luv said...

Great post, Marie!

The picture of the wounded shep mix makes my heart ache. He looks so much like my Jenna.

Matt said...

I've been preaching, for lack of a better term, a lot lately about owner responsibility. Just the other day I mentioned how letting a dog out in the woods to run unsupervised very often leads to bad results, and that's entirely the responsibility of the owner.

I want to help get the word out there that if you're not committed to spending time with, supervising, training and just living a life WITH a dog, then don't get one. If you don't have time to supervise it, then just don't get a dog.

Hopefully the message of dog responsibility will spread.


ashby said...

I am definitely with you on this, Marie. The only time our pups are off leash is when we're hiking, and they're with us, and that is only after lots and lots of practice with recall.

That shepherd looks so much like our Henry, I want to take him home. Horrible.