The big story in the dog world this week is that of Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Raffiki. Raffiki went missing last month. She eventually landed in the lap of a rescue organization that adopted the puppy out to a new family. Where things get sticky is that Raffiki’s original owner notified the rescue that they had her dog, and they adopted the puppy out anyway, and now refuse to return Raffiki to her original owner. On Facebook, one page dedicated to Raffiki claims that the rescue was underhanded in the adoption of the dog to the new home in several important ways, including the fact that they knew, unequivocally, that Raffiki’s original owner had come forth prior to the adoption of Raffiki into a new home.
Obviously, I don’t know the truth of what happened to Raffiki; I wasn’t there. However, Raffiki’s story has given me opportunity to write a blog post I’ve been struggling with for some time, and that is the move of some rescue organizations from animal sheltering to animal sales.
You may be forgiven for thinking that we have a pet overpopulation problem in the United States. I say forgiven, because the truth is very different from the story some animal rights organizations want to sell you. The truth is that we do have abandoned animal overpopulation issues in some parts of the country, but not all. Shelters in the northern half of the United States frequently have to import adoptable animals from the South — or even from other countries — in order to keep up demand for pets. Without importing these animals, the shelters would literally run out of abandoned animals to adopt out.
That seems like a good thing, right? Not if you’re an animal shelter who depends on adoption fees to keep running. When that’s the case, suddenly the impetus moves from sheltering animals to selling animals, because selling animals is where the money is.
“Adopt, don’t shop.” You’ve heard that before, right? And yet these same adoption advocates are literally selling dogs for hundreds of dollars — and calling it “adoption fees.” Their organizations are importing animals at very little cost and then selling them. Suddenly, chronically underfunded shelters have discovered a revenue stream that can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for them. They have no motive for wanting to turn off that tap.
Raffiki’s story is hardly unique. I belong to a Rhodesian Ridgeback mailing list, and several stories have poured in today from people who have had dealings with unscrupulous shelter and rescue organizations that — for lack of a better word — attempted to kidnap their lost pets. Here’s one account:
My dad got sick several years ago and was hospitalized for 2 months. I took his dogs – a standard poodle, golden retriever & jack Russel terrier – all neutered. The day after they got to my house the standard poodle got out. It took me 5 days to locate this dog – calling and visiting all the shelters around me daily.
The dog had a collar & tags with my dad’s info. There was never a message on his home phone or at his vet (also on the tag) the shelter that had him, had him for 5 days but never showed him to me! I visited this shelter every day and they had the dog the day he went missing!
Then I had to jump through hoops to prove I had guardianship of this dog to get him back.
Had me thinking someone had a way to make a few bucks off this dog.
“Adopt one until there are none.” And then what? What happens when there really are none?
Apparently the answer is “import more to sell.”
I don’t agree with a lot that Suzanne Clothier has to offer, but I like this. It’s another musing on the age-old nature vs nurture relationship.
I’m constantly on the hunt for the ‘best’ car safety solution. Regular dog crates don’t keep dogs safe in an accident; they break when the dog hits the side of the crate. Most car harnesses don’t prevent the dog from hitting the back of the front seats, posing a risk to driver and passenger, and worse, the harness itself doesn’t even keep the dog contained.
These crash tested Variocages look very interesting! They’re pricy, but looks like they’re probably worth it!
“Do you know what kills shelter dogs? Irresponsible owners kill shelter dogs. They kill them when they don’t do their research and add the wrong dog to the wrong household, then ditch it to die at a shelter when they can’t or don’t care to properly care for it.”
Do you know what a multi-function dog leash is? Sometimes referred to as a “European leash” or a “military style leash,” multifunction leashes have a snap at each end, and several rings along the length of the leash. One snap attaches to your dog’s collar, and the other snap attaches to the rings to make various configurations. One ring makes a regular leash handle; another makes a loop large enough for you to wear the leash over one shoulder for walking your dog hands-free. One ring (usually free floating) makes the leash into a slip, no collar needed. Or you could attach to a ring very close to the snap and cut the entire leash length in half, in case you needed to keep your dog closer to you.
I’ve been wanting one for a long time, preferably in leather, but there was one problem: I couldn’t find one in leather that I liked. I dislike “braided” bits on most leather leashes, preferring the cleaner look of rivets. I’m very picky about the width and thickness of leather leashes. I couldn’t make up my mind about the configuration of the rings.
In short, I talked myself out of every leather multifunction leash I found. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would probably need to make my own. I thought about making a fabric one, and finally settled on a braided paracord leash instead. Several years ago, a colleague had a braided paracord leash for one of her lovely Border Collies, and let me examine it at a seminar. I really liked it. It felt good in my hand, and paracord has a lot of nice features.
I decided I wanted to do a four strand round braid for the leash to keep the width somewhat thin, and for the first leash I went with plain black rather than a two tone leash so that any irregularities in my braid would be less noticeable. I’m pretty happy with my first attempt; while my tension throughout the braid isn’t perfect, it’s good enough, and the length is pretty much spot on six feet from end to end. I was able to put the rings exactly where I wanted them, and the only thing I really would change is my floating ring is a teeny bit too small to work as a good slip; with the snap attached, the ring catches on the braid and doesn’t slide as smoothly as it good. For a first time attempt at making a leash though, I done did good!
I have plans to make two more; one in green and black for Loki, and pink and white for pretty Miss Clover. The all black one can be for Jackson.
So, there’s my latest arts and crafts project. I love it!
Jack must have thought he hit the lottery between yesterday and today. He and Clover have been very house bound this winter; the weather is too cold for walking in, so most of the focus has been on getting Loki out for socialization. Accordingly, yesterday I decided to take the big boy out to the pet store for some fun and to pick up more poop bags. I can never take the Ridgebacks anywhere without them being mobbed by an adoring crowd; they love the big dog with the sweet face and the cool cowlick.
Today, though, Jackson had a vet appointment for his yearly physical. The big guy weighed in at 82 pounds (37kg) and his thyroid test came back normal, heart worm test was negative, and his Lyme screening was also negative. Good healthy Jackson!
On the way home, I stopped at a VW dealership because the A4 was telling me my brake light needed replacing. I only intended to ask if they could replace the light, but they not only said they could replace it, but asked if I wanted them to do it right then. I said sure, but I need to get my dog out of the car.
I think they expected me to walk in with a purse dog under my arm. Boy were they surprised when Big Man came padding through the door! He was a big hit with the service desk people, and a few minutes later we were on our way with a brand new brake light and a happy dog.
He’s snoozing away now after his “big adventure.” Love you, big brown house shark!
I think by now, everyone has some idea that a reputable breeder is one that will perform health clearances on her dogs before breeding (among other criteria as well) but you might not exactly know what that means. Let’s take a look, since Amy just went through a full round of testing on Calibur (and I’ll be walking Clover through hers this year).
The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is a website jointly sponsored by the AKC and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that serves as a sort of health clearances database for breeders. The CHIC maintains a list, for each breed, of tests that they recommend be done before breeding. If you do all those tests on your dog and agree to make the results public, you will be issues a CHIC number and then anyone you give that number to can look up your dog’s information and see his test results. The value of this should be obvious: now in addition to breeding based on breed type and working function, you can also use a dog’s health clearances when evaluating a potential breeding.
It’s important to point out here that CHIC only requires that you make your test results public in order for you to be issued a CHIC number for that dog — they don’t actually have to pass the tests! So, merely having a CHIC number isn’t enough to tell you about the relative health of the dog; you still have to apply your brain cells and check the results. Also, remember that just passing health clearances is not enough to determine whether any individual dog is a fit specimen to breed: they still need to be structurally sound and fit for the work their breed was developed for. All the health clearances in the world won’t save you if your long-distance trotting breed has front legs that toe out like a backyard bred Basset Hound. Similarly, in your search for a sport dog, you’ll want to avoid parents that are extremely straight shouldered, because their natural “shock absorbers” won’t function as well as a dog with more moderate layback, and they’ll be prone to injuries. You need the total package!
So, for Canaan Dogs, the CHIC recommends the following:
The costs for each exam will vary depending on which vet you have available for your dog, of course, but there’s also a fee to submit your results to the OFA. (Results from the OFA database are then shared with CHIC for no additional charge.) Amy forwarded Calibur’s fees to me so I’d have an idea of what kind of outlay we’d be paying for Clover.
Hips, Elbows, Patellas (x-rays): $370
OFA Fee: $55
Eye Exam: $50
OFA Fee: $12
Thyroid Panel (blood draw + laboratory analysis): $260
OFA Fee: $15
That’s just for one dog. Eyes ideally should be examined yearly, although eye problems are not an issue for Canaan Dogs as a breed and so it’s not a requirement, just a “good thing to do.”
Let’s take a look at the requirements for Rhodesian Ridgebacks:
Eye Exams — required annually to age 9
Thyroid — recommended each year between the ages of 2 and 8
Congenital Cardiac (optional)
Congenital Deafness (optional)
Different breed, different requirements. That’s the benefit that comes from breed club sponsored health surveys and an independent health database.
Now you should have a better idea of what it means when you’re interviewing your future breeder and you ask, “Have both dogs passed their health clearances?”