Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 26 December 2003 Issue
PAWPRINTS, FOOTPRINTS & ANIMAL CHATTER
By Judith Marie Gansen
Why Hunting Causes Dog Overpopulation
My experience in looking for just the right dog to adopt gave me a new perspective on the dog overpopulation problem. One common thread kept emerging during my searches for a new adoptee. It was very common to find large, black dogs who are homeless--one site calls it the "black dog syndrome." Since movies often portray black as being connected to evil, some people tend to shy away from adopting black dogs I was told. The other thing I found were many, many hunting dogs like Beagles or Labs or mixes of these types of dogs. The common denominator seemed to be they were hunting breeds or hunting mixes of dogs. In fact, one humane society told me that hunting dog rescues tend to burn out quickly because they are so overwhelmed.
I knew that years ago hunters believed that to spay or neuter ruined the dog's ability to hunt. In fact, one hunter who kept his dogs penned outside all the time told me that to keep them inside was to "ruin their sense of smell for hunting." Another hunter who was our next door neighbor acquired two hunting dogs and immediately built a raised "kennel" which consisted of wooden walls and ceiling and to my disgust he added a wire bottom to make it easier to keep clean. He came home from work, let the dogs run around for about 10 minutes and fed them and then back in their little solitary confinement chamber where they always stayed with nothing to walk on but that awful wire--no toys to play with except maybe an occasional bone to chew. During hunting season they got more exercise to get them primed for running and then he forgot their existence pretty much until the next hunting season. Is it any wonder some of these dogs run off when they do go out to hunt--wouldn't you want to run away from such accommodations? I had a few words with him to try to make him realize what he was doing was cruel--what he did was not illegal unfortunately.
Of course all hunters do not treat their dogs this way. When I recovered from shock after seeing all the hunting breeds and crosses out there who are homeless, I realized that I was under the misapprehension that spay/neuter had reached the hunting community. I discussed this with our vet. I asked if it was true that spaying or neutering affected the dogs' ability to hunt. He said spaying or neutering does not affect a dog's ability to hunt AT ALL.
He also told me that of the hunters their clinic sees, the ones who are willing to have a dog altered will spay a female but not a male dog if it is a male hunter. Just when we thought that type of thinking went out with the Dark Ages too. Give their male buddy a snip-snip?? God forbid--these people cringe at the word "vasectomy" too. They forget that it takes two to create those unwanted puppies--one unneutered male dog can do alot of damage by creating little lives who will often end up in pounds or worse.
Which dogs are the more likely to get loose and have the opportunity to create additional puppies? Of course people who allow their dogs to run loose are a huge part of the problem, but quite often people will complain about a dog running loose all the time if it keeps showing up. Hunting dogs, however, have the best opportunity--they are often let loose in different and new areas, then called back after the damage (impregnation) is done. On our land during hunting season I often see hunting dogs I have never seen before in our area who wander onto our posted land. All they need to do is wander onto a property where some uneducated person has a dog that is not altered because that dog "is always tied up" so could "not get pregnant." Next thing you know there is a litter and not enough homes. I began watching area papers for puppy ads after hunting season to see if there was a rhythm to this--(more litters available after the right gestation period plus 6 or 8 weeks) and unfortunately this proved to be true.
I guess what we need here are articles in hunting magazines proving to these people that spay/neuter does not make for a bad hunting dog. In fact, if hunters love their dogs, there are many health benefits to spaying and neutering. Perhaps our spay/neuter mobile clinics, for the cities who are lucky enough to have them, need to change from going to the cities to hanging around hunting businesses or gun shows. Humane societies may want to begin education programs or put out leaflets targeting the hunting community. A more drastic method would be to require proof of spaying and neutering of the dogs before the hunting license is purchased.
In the meantime, even though I am against hunting of course, I came up with a bumper sticker:
"REAL HUNTERS SPAY AND NEUTER !!!"
(I was going to put "Real hunters spay and neuter--it stops the killing" but somehow that didn't work)
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