Friday, February 6, 2009

Another staffy, I presume

Part of yesterday's frenzy was the stream of phone calls, which I'm afraid may have been another reason why the students' "user experience" was less than optimal. Three of them illustrate something of a deeper truth about the assumptions we make about dogs.

Number one: Richard, one of the inspectors, called to say he'd been asked to take in a young dog, with a teenaged owner. Dog not well, and needing veterinary treatment, but in the circumstances not the owner's fault as she'd got no home, no money and no transport. I agreed we'd pay for treatment and boarding. As a bit of an afterthought, I asked what breed the dog was:"A Staffy, I suppose?" Richard said: "Yes, she was," and we both muttered a bit about how hard they are to rehome and not wanting to put down such a young animal without at least giving her a chance. 

Number two: Clinic client phoned: her cocker spaniel had badly bitten several family members, including a small child, without any provocation or warning. This was the second time he'd bitten and she was now waiting for the police and ambulance and would need to have the dog put to sleep as an emergency. I agreed with the vet that there really wasn't any choice and organised an appointment for her.

And, number three: Call from Richard to say the Staffy pup was doing fine, except for an upset tum, and one of the vet nurses had fallen in love with him and wanted to adopt him. Sometimes there are happy endings.

Staffys are not bad dogs (nor are cockers: rage sydrome, which may have been what affected this dog is very rare). They do need sensible care and training and many of them will fight other dogs, but so will Jack Russells. The main reason why we have a "Staffy problem" is that they happen to have become the pet of choice for owners who have lots of difficulties of their own, which means they find it harder to afford veterinary treatment costs and are more likely to have domestic emergencies that mean they have to rehome their dogs.

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