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Tuesday, May 7,2019

Dog First

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  
Dogs are loyal and extremely forgiving — even when they have been abused or neglected. People often don’t consider what’s best for the dog’s health, safety and happiness before their own human selfishness. “But I love her so much”, “I could NEVER give him up!” we hear.


There is an elderly owner with issues that prevent her from properly caring for her young adult dog. “I will never sign him over!” she avowed. She overfeeds the dog due to dementia, so he is overweight. Every time a door opens he bolts, because he never gets to go outside or for a walk. Her home is turning into a biohazard, which isn’t good for anyone. Every time the dog escapes, he could be hit by a car, or cause an accident, injuring others. Her friend had him groomed because he was so badly matted, which is painful. Neighbors have taken this jovial guy in, only for the pattern to repeat itself, after he is returned. The police are called often about her missing dog. The condo association has now issued a warning letter to the owner. She could be fined or even have neglect charges brought against her. She is lonely and the dog is a great companion; however her caretakers and friends admit his basic needs are not being met. A ready, willing and able foster home awaits him, but she insists upon controlling the situation, to everyone’s detriment. Every day the dog is further endangered; but until she surrenders him, there is little that can be done. She needs to put the dog first.

A small dog was surrendered last year. He came with a bowl filled with crappy food. No bed, no toy, no leash. Family members developed allergies and the apartment they moved to didn’t allow dogs. I don’t think he ever had a chew bone, a toy or a treat. Recently they inquired about his status. “We are in a better position to care for him now,” I was told. This dog was intact and UNhouse-trained. He was so severely underweight he could not be neutered until he gained at least two pounds. Weeks later, I was taken aback when his vet records arrived, revealing two incidents where the dog was injured and denied pain medication by the owner. I reminded them they relinquished all rights, and about the allergy issue. But “they’re in a better position now”. You can have him back — when you reimburse me for his vet care, training, boarding and when pigs fly. Dog, first.

Known for always advocating for animals, my position is shared by reputable rescuers. Last week, a new friend shared that they “had to buy from a pet store because rescue denied them.” They wanted a toy breed. With children under five years old, this isn’t the best match, and often a recipe for disaster. Kids want to treat a dog like a stuffed animal: Pick it up, carry it around, kiss the face and snuggle. They have erratic energy, and usually lack impulse control. People want what they want, and will pay thousands of dollars for a puppy mill pup, which stacks more odds against them — and the dog. Please listen to rescuers.

We want you to have the right new furry family member, and we will always look out for the dog, first.

I have denied friends and family members when I knew it wasn’t the best match. A dog can’t talk it through, or rationalize what’s best, past its next meal, belly rub or walk. They rely upon caring, knowledgeable and experienced dog lovers to find them the very best match possible. Sometimes, that can take months. I have a towel in my kitchen that says, “Some day every dog will have a home and every home will have a dog.” Rather than just place them, I err on the side of caution, follow my heart and do what’s best, for the dog, FIRST.


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