A slow Death - Kennel Deterioration
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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