A slow Death - Kennel Deterioration

Zena at full speed 'measuring' my 2.5 acre front yard! Imagine her in a 10x10 kennel!
Zena at full speed 'measuring' my 2.5 acre front yard! Imagine her in a 10x10 kennel! | Source

Doomed through Neglect

It's a slow killer and you can practically say:

Killed by Kindness!

Many rescues are set up with kennels ranging from 4x8 feet to 10x10 feet.

At least I hope their kennels are at least that large. I have seen pictures of kennels in Animal Control shelters that look like 2x3 feet and have a Labrador or Golden Retriever in it!

Rescues mean well, but some lack the volunteers that can provide a life-saving source of comfort for a dog: Exercise!

And cats don't fare any better! Unless the rescue has a cat room, some cats spend their days sitting in small kennels.

Cats are natural 'wanderers' and tend to cover large areas during their 'trips'! "House cats have territories that vary considerable in size, in one study ranging from seven to 28 hectares (69 acres)." ("Cats", Wikipedia.org) To confine a cat to a small area such a crate or kennel is compatible to confining us to a room the size of a normal guest bathroom.
...And leave us in there for weeks or even months at the time!

A lot of the dogs we see in shelters are working dog breeds of different sizes. We often wonder why a Jack Russell Terrier bounces seemingly happy in his kennel when we walk by.
Fact is that this high-energy hunting dog is lacking the hours of work he was bred to do!
Pitbulls, Labradors, German Shepherds, Hounds and many other breeds face the same problem! They were bred to be high-energy, highly intelligent and hard-working and are now locked up in small kennels and left to entertain themselves. And so they will!

In a home their lack of exercise and growing boredom often finds relief in destruction. In the end, the dog is blamed and send to the shelter!

If it is lucky it will be 'rescued'! But is the rescue equipped to meet its needs?

I argued with many rescues that a kennel, even with a run, and a few daily 10 min walks are not adequate exercise! And even 15 min play-time in a yard, especially by themselves, is not helping. Dogs are pack animals and a pack will give them safety, comfort, and the ability to play and stretch their legs!

A sad example is a Anatolian Shepherd 'saved' by one rescue. While he was doing OK or even better when people like me or I myself walked him for longer period of times, ever day without those long walks would add to his discomfort. He became increasingly frustrated and managed to climb out of his kennel a few times. Eventually he had to be put to sleep.
Shortly after this the rescue had to put another dog down who had become increasingly aggressive and frustrated!
Two puppies I had given to this rescue in good faith, shortly before leaving that rescue, to be placed, were not only practically constantly confined to their 'cells', but also put on too small portions of food. They became food aggressive and unadoptable. They were euthanized!
These same puppies, with enough exercise and free access to adequate amounts of food, had been the gentle companions of my six year old daughter!

I learned three lessons:
- I place my own dogs!
- No matter what the instructions say, I will feed what I know will feed them and fill them!
- 3 times 10 min walks and 1 time 15 min playtime IS NOT ENOUGH EXERCISE!

It is my firm belief that those dogs could have been saved with something as simple as exercise! (Not to mention the part where food was measured via instructions and did not meet the needs of the dogs!)

Cesar Millan preaches about the 45 minutes of a fast walk! And it worked wonders with my dogs! The digging, chewing and escaping stopped!

Another great example is the way how Best Friends has set up their large 'group homes'! These dogs, mostly dogs with some severe behavioral issues, have large outdoor runs. And if you get the chance to watch them, you will see how relaxed these dogs are despite being 'locked up'!

Saving the life of an unwanted animal is one thing; providing it with the basic things to meet their needs is another!

I know it takes time and effort to find 'good' volunteers, but isn't the welfare of that animal in your care important?!

Rescue and Adoption are long-term things that require A LOT of work! Trust me: I know! I have worked in several shelters and often by myself! I so respect people that can do that for years!

The important part is to know what the animals in your care need and to meet their needs with consideration and motivation! It does not matter if it is a doc or a horse!
If you ever spend some time in a riding academy and saw a horse weave from one hoof to another, you know what 'kennel deterioration' is!
If you have ever been in a inadequate zoo or a circus, you may have seen an elephant weaving from one foot to another!
If you have ever seen your neighbor's dog circle itself in excitement and 'chase its tail', you know what 'kennel deterioration' is!

If you have ever walked into a shelter you volunteer at and found a kennel empty, that held once a dog that you cared for and that died of lonesomeness and lack of the freedom and exercise it needed, you know how it feels to be as frustrated as this dog was!

Walk your dog, fence your yard, respect who they are, meet their needs!

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Comments 10 comments

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

I know what "kennel" deterioration is which can also be described as "soul" deterioration. Animals are creatures of habit, instinct and certain needs that if not met destroy them (they literally lose their minds). If one thinks about it humans are the same way. I think this is one of the saddest things in pet rescue/shelters today (and only heaven knows how many animals are saved by the rescue organizations/shelters and I salute them). It boils down to not enough humans to help nor understand what an animal's needs are and the almighty dollar. Excellent Hub and definitely voted up. Best, Sis


Cat R profile image

Cat R 4 years ago from North Carolina, U.S. Author

I guess I have always been a sucker for the outcasts, having moved too many times to be 'one of them'. To see a dog be euthanized because nobody took the time to meet his needs and try to understand him...

I keep thinking about all those that I took in that presented me with some hair-raising challenges and turned out to be snuggle bugs! I have a cat that almost got euthanized for being aggressive, that is sleeping soundly with my son on my library couch. I have a dog I thought was aggressive, that actually sounds like all that and just doesn't like his rear messed with. I have a once almost hairless and overweight dog nobody wanted, that is the most gentle creature I could have ever met and sleeps in my arm every night. I cried for weeks over losing 'Tiny'; a discarded ex-hunting dog that nobody wanted when she got too old to work. I can't touch a hot dog anymore since my old Pops died, his last hot dog half eaten in his mouth; thrown in a kill shelter when he got to old to do his duty as a puppy mill stud!

Most of my dogs would die in those small kennels some shelters have! They are used to playing outside all day! Used to the company of their 'pack'! Used to running across the 2.5 acre yard to stretch their legs! Used to playing chase or napping with my kids!

I fully respect those rescues that care and try their best! But I ask them to give their animals what they need: Exercise, enrichment, love beyond rescuing them from certain death!

And please look out for them even after they leave your rescue!


Deborah Brooks profile image

Deborah Brooks 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

This breaks my heart. It seems cruel. but like you said they mean well but look at them. thank you for sharing.

Debbie


Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

But do they all really mean well or are some fullfilling their need for recognition? I work with several animal rescue groups and have worked with others. Some people seem to have this need... It's called hoarding and whether they have good intentions or not it's wrong and it's illegal. So is stealing someones dog out of their backyard as I have known some rescue org. to do. What do they think the people will do? Why get another puppy of course! It should be handled properly by calling Animal Services! Who do some of these people think they are to collect more animals than they can care for propperly? Who do some of these people think they are? Just because a dog is frequently in a back yard and "looks" lonley is.... UGHH Great Hub! Attention needs to be drawn to this subject! Voted UP numerous times.


Cat R profile image

Cat R 4 years ago from North Carolina, U.S. Author

I'm so with you.

Sad thing is that a lot of the behavioral issues that get animals dumped into shelters is lack of stimulation/enrichment and lack of exercise!

I have dogs that learned to get along during long, tiring walks. I have dogs that learned to trust and relax during those walks. I have dogs that learned to control their penned up energy during those walks.

I have learned to enjoy those walks with animals that were unwanted, but love me as I am; no expectations, no ifs or other restrictions, no limits, no complaints!

I try to let a cat be a cat and a dog be a dog!

Because they let me be me!


Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

They are amazing creatures. I have heard every excuse in the book as to why a person must get rid of their dog. Basically it comes down to "It was so cute, I didn't know what I was getting in to." People who take their dogs to a training class, any class are much much more likely to keep the dog. Maybe rescue org. should think about requiring that? They could give group lessons for free. I wish life was better for those animals. I think people are crazy when they tell me dogs are not people and shouldn't be compared to them. I am a dog trainer you should see the looks I get sometimes when I am talking to a dog like a person or a puppy like a child. The similarity's are obvious... They were meant to be our best friends, I wish everyone felt like that.


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

great, informative hub. Everything you say is so true!!! I hope a lot of people read it. thanks for sharing!


Cat R profile image

Cat R 4 years ago from North Carolina, U.S. Author

Funny that you say that, Laura. It was one of my ideas I had been working on with that particular rescue. To find somebody like a police dog handler or one of the soldiers from the base handling dogs to volunteer and offer short obedience classes at the rescue.

They had the space and they had a good amount of animals adopted out (when one ignores the growing number of returns!).

I kept telling them that for one it would be a good fundraiser and for two that rescue and their responsibility didn't end when the check was signed. But I guess those animals got lucky getting a 3 week and a 3 month follow up email!

Hate to say it, but I know 'responsible' breeders that still have contact with all their 'parents' and have a system of information and 'after-care' in place.

I also know that some places offer free or reduced obedience classes for adopted 'rescued' dogs!

Something that could have been arranged with any of the local dog schools! I'm sure they would have liked the publicity!


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

It would brake my heart to go into a rescue center for cats and dogs and see they caged up, looking at me with pleading eyes. Voted up and awesome(for real), Joyce


Cat R profile image

Cat R 4 years ago from North Carolina, U.S. Author

It does mine. That's why I rarely go into shelters. I understand the need for kennels and such, but if you are a rescue, proper exercise is part of the rescuing process. Otherwise you end up having to euthanize once very adoptable animals.

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