‘Training’ is animal cruelty
Dear Editor:I felt sick about the treatment of the Krabloonik huskies, especially the original dog, Magic, who healed from her skull fracture, was returned to Dan’s care about a year later, only to die, suddenly thereafter. I always wondered about that; I guess she just didn’t work out.But now I’ve discovered that I’ve been even more naive about how professionals and others actually treat their working dogs. I find it difficult to believe that people in this area, so blessed, can be so cruel.Last month, near the Red Brick school, I saw a German short-haired pointer, extremely upset about something. His tail, tucked so tightly between his legs, was almost invisible. I stopped as a man, obviously with the dog (that watched him cautiously), walked back and forth in front of the school. The dog did not follow him, nor sit, just turned back and forth nervously. It was strange, as it did not seem to be a lesson in “down/stay” or “come.” Getting closer, I noticed a bright yellow belt encircling the dog’s loins. I asked what was around the dog. He replied, a training collar (obviously, then, an electronic device). Asked, “Around the dog’s waist?” he said only, “Yeah.”I reported him immediately to Animal Control, as I was positive that electric shocks, administered to a dog’s genitals, could not possibly be anything but an act of animal cruelty. They followed up. But I was informed that the man’s two (!) dogs were properly cared for, the training device was an accepted device, properly used. I was even informed that it “only tickled.” Am I to believe the dog responds because of positive reinforcement? I was told the dog was “mopey” because it was several years old, needed regular “retraining,” which it had been undergoing since puppyhood.I am mortified that this is an “acceptable” form of dog training. I am sorry that it is an industry (dirty) secret. I knew about electronic collars, but this is unimaginable. The joy of dog ownership is appreciated by many in our area. The real joy comes from developing a relationship of trust and understanding with a nonhuman creature, an intelligent one that is well-known for its unlimited ability to love humans unconditionally and develop close working relationships with them.I understand that not everyone has the time to train a dog, but that is due more to a failure to understand what is involved, than to actually do it. There are certainly lots of opportunities to go to inexpensive puppy obedience classes, net surf, read books, watch TV shows and videos, and chat with dog-owning, dog-loving friends and neighbors, as well as numerous humane organizations, happy to share advice on getting along with man’s best friends.Our area abounds with well-trained dogs of all breeds accompanying their owners virtually everywhere. They demonstrate what is possible. Did I really see a poor, sad dog, trying to understand why his owner would be inflicting pain on him (admittedly regularly) in front of the Red Brick school in broad daylight, for all the kids, as well as everyone else, to witness? Is this something our animal authorities, and our community, embraces?R.N. MagillAspen
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