Thursday, February 2, 2012

and the spin starts on TAS's poor HADES- updated

A story surfaced in the Toronto Sun yesterday that revealed (to my mind) a horrific story of abuse - and even more shocking - it was Toronto Animal Services that were the abusers.  It defies explanation to me that ANYone or any organization - and certainly not one that purports to deal humanely with animals - would allow ANY dog to be incarcerated in a cage and dog run (yes, he has a dog run but that is NOT adequate) for an ENTIRE year with minimal human contact, no chance to properly exercise or interact with other dogs or people, no opportunity to feel the wind, feel earth beneath his feet and simply to engage his mind in smelling new smells and exploring new venues.

Don't we descry this same type of behaviour in puppy mills?

Don't we - including TAS (who often RESCUES animals that are in similar situations for everything but the REASON they are trapped in a cage every moment of every day) - talk about how CRUEL this is?

[Note to Readers: Fred took me to task for my comment about the 'spin' and in musing on it, I stand myself corrected.  He is an honest writer and entitled to his opinion. It upset me the way he presented Hades as aggressive and potentially viscious based simply on what in many dogs is simplistic territoriality and not necessarily a sign of the dog's innate nature which would make him immpossible to rehabilitate.  However, that is Fred's honest opinion and as such, he is of course entitled to it.  I am not removing the sentence but crossing it out, as it was a low blow and unwarranted. I stand by my assertions that TAS was - and is - negligent and abusive to keep a dog in that situation UNLESS i hear from someone that conerted efforst have been made over the past year to rectify the situation and it was NOT a case of letting that dog rot, neglected and forlorn.  As for my OWN opinion, I think without active intervention and efforts to over-turn the Court sanctions and have the dog moved to someone capable of properly assessing him and rehabilitating him - he would have been better off being euthanied.]

Fred, blogger of note with Pound Dogs, and someone I normally respect greatly, writes about it here and I admit I'm disappointed in the spin he puts on it.  Not that it is entirely unexpected - after reading the article, I have been waiting for the TAS organization and individuals with whom it is associated to spin a story about why this was an acceptable (and no doubt will claim, inescapable) manner of dealing with this dog.

Memories are certainly short; less than two years ago the entire city - newspapers, OSPCA, animal rescue organizations and everyone else associated with animals in any way - lambasted Tim Trow (and rightly so) for keeping pit bull mix Bandit relegated to the top floor of the THS for several years (again due to a Court order as is the case with Hades).  It WAS awful - but oddly, less awful than what has happened to Hades. Bandit at least had companionship - he spent a lot of time with Tim and other staff members, often wandered the floor and was brought in and out into fresh air in the open air roof.  He had limited freedom but lots of affection and access if not to grass, at least to the outdoors.

I know nothing about Hades.  I know that he bit someone when he got loose.  I know that the deadbeat owner who had probably encouraged Hades' innate guardian nature to blossom into territoriality and aggression screwed off and left him to his fate.  I know that bull mastiffs are normally quite wonderful breeds - affectionate, loyal and wonderfully courageous:

From Canada's Guide to Dogs:

The Bullmastiff comes from a cross between the Bulldog and the Mastiff. Developed for the purpose of having a dog who could guard like a Mastiff, have the courage of a Bulldog, and be faster and more agile than the Mastiff. He was mostly used by gamekeepers in Britain to warn them of the presence of poachers and help them in a fight. Known as the "gamekeeper's nightdog", he was a silent, agile dog that could attack on command, knock down a man and hold him without mauling or biting. He has also been used as a police and army dog and as a guard dog by diamond companies in South Africa.
The Bullmastiff has an aristocratic, attentive and intelligent appearance. Powerful, active, alert, fearless and courageous, he is however, docile and laid back with those he knows. The Bullmastiff is extremely devoted, loyal, and affectionate to his family. Today, the breed is primarily a companion dog who is an excellent guard dog. With his natural guarding abilities and a somewhat stubborn nature, the Bullmastiff is not for everyone and early socialization and training is very important for this breed.
One would assume this boy was vastly under-socialized to begin with and  no doubt encouraged to be aggressive.  It is incontrovertible that a YEAR in solitary confinement with minimal contact with people, relegated to a small space has only increased his fear, and encouraged territoriality.  Territoriality in a dog - particularly in ancestral guard breeds like the mastiff - are encouraged and exacerbated by the dog being confined to a small area and given no leadership. point out:
With territorial aggression, the resources guarded are those within certain physical boundaries – the territory – and the objects of the aggression are unwelcome visitors to that territory. The shelter and food that the territory provides and the incumbent society, the pack, must be defended against infiltrators and usurpers. In the wild, responsibility for this function rests squarely with more dominant members of the pack. It is their duty to alert the others and repel interlopers, as the need arises.
and NOW they are going to test him?
and NOW they are going to see if he can be rehabilitated?
Let me look in my Crystal Ball: TAS will administer a half-assed temperament test which Hades will fail abysmally. A needle will be stuck in him. He dies and there you are, problem solved.
First and foremost, most of the temperament tests which organizations use like bibles are crap- they are often if not always administered incorrectly and conclusions are drawn from flawed data.  Dogs - even aggressive ones with territorial issues, can be rehabbed.  Maybe Hades can't - maybe he is beyond help- but I am praying he is at least given the chance.
My own Llyr was a chained dog with territoriality and aggression issues stemming from spending his first three years chained in a backyard.  When I got him, he would bark and lunge and growl.  For many long months, I worked hard to teach Llyr that he no longer had to "guard" his space - that I was the leader now and would take care of HIM.  There was, I would point out, almost an IMMEDIATE change in his demeanour once he was released from his confined space where he was made to feel defensive.   He bonded quickly with his "family" and it just took a longer period of time before he became stable enough to be easily introduced to strangers (he is a Pet Smart favourite now and gets mobbed when I bring him there to pick up toys). 
I encourage EVERYONE to look at this video as it is a VERY good example of what chaining (or in Hades case, confining - same difference) to a small area does to a dog - and how they can be COMPLETELY different when they feel less defensive:
Fred says at one point "Hades is in limbo".
You're wrong, Fred, Hades is in HELL.

And while the paperwork is the Court's, the responsibility for maintaining this hell lies with TAS.

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