Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Rescue Me


Is there a bigger oxymoron that the word "Kill Shelter"?

The good news is that the number of dogs being euthenized has fallen rapidly, and continues to decline, as more and more people spay and neuter their pets, more and more people buy purebred dogs, and more and more of these purebred dogs are "recycled" through breed rescue groups.

During the last 30 years shelter intakes and euthenasias have decreased by 60-80 percent in many cities, particularly those located on the East and West coasts of the U.S.

The bad news is that Jack Russell terriers are still one of the dogs most frequently bred and dumped. Part of the problem is that some greedy and foolish people continue to breed dogs with the idea of "making a few dollars" by selling off puppies to anyone that will answer a newspaper or online ad.

An even larger problem are dim-witted owners who decide that because things have "changed" in their lives
they now have to dispose of their dog. Got a new kid? Dump the dog. Divorce? Dump the dog. Moving? Dump the dog. More hours at work? Dump the dog. New spouse? Dump the dog.

To its permanent credit, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America goes to extraordinary lengths to discourage the ignorant, the first-time dog owner, and the the misinformed from getting a Jack Russell Terrier.

The "Bad Dog Talk" of the JRTCA web site is featured prominenly on their excellent web site (, and large picture ads are featured in the puppy section of nearly every dog magazine in the U.S. -- all with the message that the Jack Russell Terrer is NOT for everyone, is NOT like those cute little dogs you see on television, and is primarily a very energetic hunting dog.

A Jack Russell is a lot of hunting dog, and if that dog is not trained, well excercised and given an outlet for its instincts, it will invariably bark, dig up the yard, and bite and chew on things it shouldn't. Male dogs are more likely to end up in rescue situations than female dogs -- perhaps due to a higher level of unchanneled aggression in males. The result is predictable: dogs abused for exhibiting instinctive behavior, dogs shuttled from one home to another, dogs given little excercise or training that then escape their yards and are struck dead -- or crippled -- by cars.

Increasing numbers of Patterdale and Jagt terriers are now showing up in places like "Bay Dog Online" -- the preferred dumping ground for people that are breeding too many dogs for the limited working terrier market. Most of these dogs are too large to work underground, and the come-on line "will hunt anything" usually means "has hunted nothing."

Some truly excellent dogs are available from rescue -- dogs whose only crime is that they are no longer little puppies (which conversely means they are house broken and may be at least a little trained).

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