Some people might consider me guilty of cruelty if they knew only a few facts about me. I would hope, if they knew the full story about how I take care of my dogs, they would think I’m not at all abusive or cruel and in fact a responsible owner. But taken out of context – for example, if I got written up for some sort of violation, these things might sound really awful:
- Sometimes I find mats on the dogs, especially in those oh-so-mattable tufts that fluff out the ears, and I don’t take them out immediately.
- I don’t always scoop the yard as often as I should, especially in the Summer.
- I rarely bathe my dogs. They roll in dirt and mud, lay in puddles, and do other dogly things. And still, they don’t seem to need a bath to me.
- I don’t follow every single recommendation my Vet makes. I love her and I value her advice but I don’t comply with every recommended vaccine, treatment, etc. (The same goes for my own Doctor, but that’s another story!)
- I don’t take a bitch and her newborn litter of pups in to the Vet unless there is a serious problem.
So let’s say someone showed up for a surprise “inspection” at my house when I hadn’t recently scooped the yard because I was staying up around the clock to care for a large, healthy, newborn litter of pups who needed supplemental feedings. Maybe some of the dogs had found a mud puddle to play in and another dog had ear mats.
Here is my write-up of my abusive self, again taken out of context of the big picture:
The breeder had a litter of newborn pups lacking veterinary care, other dogs who were dirty and matted, the yard was unsanitary, and some of the dogs had been denied treatment recommended by a Vet.
Sounds pretty bad, no? And without the full context of how I care for my dogs, it might be easy for some to condemn me. But let me offer an alternate write-up:
The breeder had a large, healthy litter of newborn pups for whom she was preparing homemade puppy formula for supplemental feedings in order to reduce the drain on the bitch. This was a time consuming task, in addition to preparing homemade food for the adults, the whelping box cleaning and daily puppy care the breeder provided. Understandably, she hadn’t scooped the yard recently although it was obvious the yard was generally in good condition. While some dogs had mud on them from a puddle they had been playing in, they appeared to be happy, healthy and in very good condition. The breeder explained that dematting the ears of one of the dogs was on her to-do list as soon as the pups were off bottle feedings. Daily records kept on each of the pups showed they were thriving and not in need of any veterinary care. The breeder explained she does not vaccinate her dogs yearly, even though her Vet recommends it, based upon the recommendations of other Vets who have published alternate vaccine schedules. She is highly concerned for the health and welfare of her dogs and utilizes many resources in determining how best to care for them.
Sort of paints a different picture, doesn’t it?
I guess my point is that, although we know there are truly cruel and abusive dog owners in the world, I assume most owners are good people, doing what they think is best. We don’t usually get to hear all the facts surrounding any particular case and therefore we are only getting a partial picture. If I can do a mock cruelty indictment on myself (when I actually believe I’m a good owner), it seems reasonable to me to think there may well be more to actual cruelty stories reported in the media. Unfortunately, we rarely get to hear both sides.
As an exercise, try indicting yourself on a cruelty complaint. It’s interesting, rather humbling, and more than a little scary when you realize the implications.