Friday, February 20, 2009

More about HSUS - the Hypocrisy Society of the US

Here's a press release from Best Friends about the killing of the dogs in North Carolina, which explains the role of the HSUS in this matter even more clearly. (Thanks to Fred at One Bark at a Time for the link).

"Ledy VanKavage, an attorney with Best Friends Animal Society, said, 'We are disheartened and shocked that HSUS, a leader in the animal welfare community, would testify in court for the automatic destruction of puppies and dogs who had NOT [emphasis mine] been given the opportunity to be evaluated as individuals, based on [HSUS’s] policy. The Michael Vick dogs have proven how antiquated this approach is.' ”

To add insult to injury, the HSUS has been caught before using dogfighting busts as fundraising events, insinuating that they are actually helping to care for the dogs, rather than campaigning to have them killed. Here is a screen cap of a page from their web site that was put up after the Vick dogs were seized, asking for money to "help care for the dogs". This page was quickly pulled when it was proven that the HSUS was in no way helping to care for any of the Vick dogs.

My advice? Don't donate your money to any of these huge, wealthy animal rights organizations... not if you are interested in actually protecting or caring for any actual animals. Donate to your local shelter or rescue instead! And you don't have to donate cash if you don't have it... donations of things like old blankets and towels are usually appreciated. Better yet, donate your time and offer to help out!

But don't send a dime to HSUS or PETA.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

HSUS Exposed

Dig the cool widget in my sidebar that I just got from FrogDog - it references the latest and possibly most shameful case of the HSUS successfully pushing for the killing of all dogs seized in a dogfighting bust without giving any of them a chance...can you say "blame the victims"? We're not proposing that anyone starts adopting truly dangerous dogs into the community - what we want is to have each dog FAIRLY evaluated and - when appropriate - placed with a knowledgeable rescue.

But on many occasions the HSUS - the very organization that most people associate with animal protection - has pushed to kill every dog seized from a dogfighting bust. Even though the Michael Vick dogs have proven that even dogs "bred to fight" can be rehabilitated.

When it comes to killing dogs, Michael Vick doesn't have anything on the HSUS.
(Or PETA, for that matter. But that's another story.)

What was so particularly disturbing about this case was that there were several litters of puppies born after the dogs were seized, and even those babies were killed. Never mind that EVERYONE who knows ANYTHING about dogs understands that a dog's upbringing, early socialization and training are the most important predictors of that dog's behavior as an adult. Since these dogs had several knowledgeable groups offering to take them, evaluate them, and rehabilitate them - free of charge to the Wilkes Co. Animal control - those puppies had a shot at a GREAT start in life. But it didn't happen that way.

Selma at Caveat has a superb outline here of what the HSUS is really all about:
Time to Take the 'Humane' Out of HSUS

I know this post is turning out to be a blogger's equivalent of a clip show - but there are so many people out there who have done a really excellent job of uncovering and explaining the facts that I can't possibly do it better.

I'll leave you with a short article written by someone who - unlike John Goodwin of the HSUS - really IS an expert on evaluating and training pit bulls, even those with a fighting background:
The High Cost of Being a Victim

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Regarding the Dewclaw

I have had many dogs with front dewclaws (the "thumbs") and many who had their dewclaws removed in infancy. I've never really noticed much difference one way or another. During my tenure as a vet tech we'd see dogs with broken or torn dewclaws every now and then although it wasn't a common injury. But they were difficult to treat, mostly because of the difficulty in preventing the dog from licking the area compulsively.

One advantage of having a dog with no dewclaws is that it means two fewer nails to trim - and although my crew is good about that, it still saves a bit of time on each dog.

Kinsey and her sister Aeryn had their dewclaws removed shortly after they were born, so I really wasn't concerned about having the dewclaws removed from Kinsey's pups when they were two days old.

However, since then (that litter turned 3 last summer) I've learned about some of the cons of dewclaw removal in performance dogs. Chris Zink, DVM is a veterinarian and consultant about canine sports medicine and she is a big proponent of leaving front dewclaws where they are.

She says they are important to prevent torque on the foreleg, and to maintain the integrity of the carpal joint. Specifically in her article With a Flick of the Wrist she says: "In the canter, there is a moment during each stride when the dog's accessory carpal pad (on the back of the carpus) of the lead front leg touches the ground and the rear legs and other front leg swing forward to prepare for the next stride. At this point, the dewclaw is in contact with the ground and if the dog turns, the dewclaw can dig in for extra traction to prevent unnecessary torque on the front leg. Without the gripping action of the dog's 'thumbs’ there is more stress on the ligaments of the carpus. This may cause the ligaments to stretch and tear over time, resulting in joint laxity and ultimately, arthritis."

I have actually been a little skeptical about this. Of course, I understand that at speed and/or when turning, a dog's pasterns extend just like a horse's do and will drop low to the ground to absorb shock. But I photograph and film my dogs a lot, and have never seen anything near to the degree of pastern extension she's talking about. The thought of that dewclaw actually touching the ground seems sort of unlikely.

And then I ran across this photo from a bunch I took of Kinsey at an agility trial a few months ago:It's not a great photo and I was about to discard it when I took another look:

The red circle is about where her dewclaw would be if she had one. And, yes, it does look like it would be contacting the ground if it were there.

I'm still not totally convinced... "touching" the ground isn't the same thing as "digging in" and it doesn't look to me like her pastern is THAT extended.

But it sure gives me something to think about.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Brotherly love

I'm finally getting around to downloading and organizing some photos and found this one of Buck (littermate to our Teddy and Topper) and his little "brother" Doc at our house last fall. Buck's owners are the GREATEST and they rarely travel anywhere that they can't take their dogs - but when they do we get to babysit :-) Fortunately all the dogs get along very well - they really are a mellow bunch for all the trouble they seem to be able to get into!

Doc was probably about 4 months old here... he's a LOT bigger now but still awfully cute! :-)