Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Lost Dogs

This is the story of the 48 dogs rescued as the result of a raid on a dog-fighting breeding establishment in Virginia. The case was something of a cause célèbre due to the fact that one of the owners of the kennels was a highly-successful American Football star and, as part of his plea-bargaining arrangements a considerable amount of money was made available as "restitution" to be used for the rehabilitation of the dogs.

Without this financial resource it's unlikely that the more timid or dog-aggressive animals could have been saved—and in fact from a British viewpoint it's rather shocking that all of them might have been put down with no attempt at evaluation and before the case had even come to trial simply because the police had no funding to keep dogs long-term.

The cash windfall made possible what was effectively a trial project into the rehabilitation of dogs seized from fighting cases. The results are fascinating and in some ways it's a pity this write-up is so firmly aimed at a popular animal-loving audience. I hope some more in-depth studies will appear later.

Within its limitations this is a book with lessons for anyone interested in the "status dog" phenomenon and in rehabilitation of abused dogs. (A very clear lesson is that it can only be solved by dealing with the problem of young male human status aggression, not by regulating particular breeds of dogs). 

One  very surprising finding was that fearfulness was enormously more of a problem for the majority of the dogs on their journey towards normal life than aggression towards other dogs.

No comments:

Post a Comment