‘Puppers’ worked on his social skills at the new CARE animal shelter. (CARE Network photo)

CARE column: Be prepared for puppies

CARE recently helped two dogs regain their social skills

JAMES RODGERS

Special to the Westerly

Emergency dog and cat food is available on the west coast. Contact the CARE Network to organize safe delivery or to discuss any other animal related challenges or safety concerns during these unusual times: Call or text 250 266 9663.

Speaking of community safety concerns, CARE recently helped with two dogs who were charging, barking and snapping at folks (mostly children) in a particular area. Neighbours were at their wits end and rumours of a plan to shoot the dogs started circulating.

Once alerted, CARE quickly contacted the dogs’ guardians to investigate the situation. It was determined that the dogs had been neglected for some time and that the family had no intention of improving their care. The only thing the family was willing to do to keep the community safe was to transfer guardianship of the dogs over to the CARE Network.

With the necessary paperwork in place CARE staff quickly started organizing next steps. First, if the dogs were as aggressive as reported and not able to be socialized, CARE needed to have a plan in place to euthanize them. Extreme? Yes. Unusual? No. Sadly, over the past eight years of working with animals in our region, the CARE team are all too familiar with a common cycle:

• Puppy joins a family.

• Puppy is pampered for a few months.

• Puppy requires house training and socializing (to stop mouthing, jumping up, defecating and peeing indoors, etc.) but little to none is provided.

• Puppy is relegated to living the rest of her life outside.

• Without proper social skills, Puppy gets into trouble and may have to be removed from the community for safety reasons.

• If Puppy ends up biting someone, or if Puppy cannot be socialized and re-homed, someone like a CARE staff person has to make the terribly hard decision to euthanize* Puppy.

Step two for the CARE team regarding the two aggressive, recently surrendered dogs was to make arrangements to apprehend the dogs: load up carriers and pack the catcher pole, treats, and our wobbly wagon. Thanks to years of practice and the right tools, both dogs were safely and securely contained and ready to be transferred to the new animal shelter for assessment within 30 minutes!

Once at the animal shelter, the two dogs were each introduced to their side-by-side temporary kennel residences. CARE’s primary dog behaviour assessment person showed up soon after to weigh in on the fate of the dogs. Soon the dogs were showing signs that they could be socialized. Within 24 hours, the dogs were cuddling and licking the faces of CARE staff! Obviously, the veterinarian on standby wasn’t going to have to euthanize anyone this time.

Unlike ‘Puppy’, these two dogs were able to be socialized and re-homed before they ended up getting into fatal trouble. Please help stop the cycle of unwanted dogs paying the ultimate price for bad decisions:

• Adopt a dog or cat from a reputable organization.

• Think twice about bringing a puppy home. And if you do, be prepared. They require a lot of training and time (at least a dedicated hour of training each day for the first few months, walks, cleaning up feces, etc.) and cost a lot (shots, spay/neuter, food, toys, adequate outdoor dwelling, a properly setup yard, etc.).

• Support your local animal rescue and shelter! On the west coast that is the CARE Network. CARE is currently developing a proactive dog and puppy training program to get at the root of these sorts of challenges.

* Euthanizing animals is always a last resort. CARE Network tries very hard to rehabilitate and save every animal that comes into our care but sometimes safety risks to the animal, volunteers, adopters, and the public are too great and resources too few. This is a harsh and heartbreaking reality that CARE works tirelessly to change.

CARE Network are the local folks who have been helping raccoons, birds and of course dogs and cats, from Ahousaht to Hitacu since 2012. We are neighbours working with neighbours to improve public health, safety and wellbeing for all residents and visitors, whether they have two legs or four, fins or feathers. Facebook.com/coastalanimalrescue Donations (one time and monthly) and volunteering (while maintaining safe distancing) are always appreciated!

James Rodgers is the Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network’s co-founder.

READ MORE: CARE column: Cold winter season terrifying for stray cats

READ MORE: CARE column: Two baby raccoons rescued after dog attack near Tofino

READ: CARE Network elated with $30K donation from Ocean Outfitters for West Coast animal shelter

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