Faribault pet enthusiasts speak out against pet abandonment

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 7, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

It was just a few degrees above zero when the woman found him — a small, chocolate-colored puppy tied to a cable with a bath towel.


The two-month old German shepherd mix hovered in a corner, trying to protect himself from the bitter wind chill.

The woman, an employee at Farmer Seed, always drives past the front of the store so she can step out and pick up the newspaper before parking and going in the back door. At 6:30 a.m., she came in early to get paperwork done before the store opened on Friday.

Just 10 days after Christmas, the red-collared puppy is presumed to have been a gift found under the tree that turned into too much work.

“We see this happen, unfortunately,” said Patty Caron, founder and director of SAFE Sanctuary, a foster-based dog rescue in Faribault. “Their kids wanted a puppy for Christmas but then soon after they find out that, oh gee, it’s a lot of work to have a puppy. There’s potty training, and chewing, and barking, and more potty training. Some people expect these puppies to come in and be perfect, but that’s not how it works.”

Caron estimated that between six and 12 puppies come to SAFE after being abandoned. The most common time is the summer, though a few Christmas “puppy dumps” aren’t surprising.

Meanwhile the Faribault Police Department reports a decrease in dog calls during winter months, with the most activity coming in July and August. Dogs that are found by community service officers are brought to Camp Canine, which serves as Faribault’s impound, for five days to allow time for owners to claim their pets.

If a dog isn’t claimed in that time frame, it’s then sent to Prairie’s Edge or SAFE, Severson said.

At Prairie’s Edge Humane Society, director Kathy Jasnoch said there is no “season” for people abandoning kittens or puppies like there used to be. Now, any time of the year goes. Just this fall, a puppy was found tied up to the outdoor kennels at Prairie’s Edge on a day the shelter was supposed to be closed.

With any stray or abandoned animal comes the issue of not knowing its history or temperament, Jasnoch said. But about 60 percent of incoming pets are owner surrenders.

As for the young German shepherd mix found last week, no owners came forward so he’s been re-named Sarge and placed in a SAFE foster home. Caron said Sarge is one of the lucky pups — it’s the pets who get abandoned and are never found that she worries about the most.

“It’s the ones that die out there, that we don’t find out about, that really bother me,” she said. “Right now there are three dogs in impound, just waiting to see if their owner will come and claim them. Will they? I don’t know. But there’s no need for this.”

Jasnoch and Caron urged pet owners to research options before dropping Sprinkles or Rufus on the side of the road — especially in cold, wintery months, when an animal’s survival is unlikely.

“The number one danger for a pet outside in this cold is access to water,” said Dr. Lisa Johnson at Faribault Vet Clinic. “Then you worry about a food source because it takes a lot more calories, a lot more energy, to stay warm. So an animal’s dietary needs increase during winter months. If they’ve been an indoor critter used to a bowl of food, they won’t know how to fend for itself.”

Frost bite and hypothermia are also concerns for animals who may struggle — or in Sarge’s case, be unable to — find shelter from wind and other elements.

Both Prairie’s Edge and SAFE accept surrenders — meaning pet owners can call and arrange to leave their dog at either shelter. At SAFE, the surrender is free of charge, but is contingent on room at a foster home. A surrender fee is charged at Prairie’s Edge, though Jasnoch said no animal is turned away.

“You won’t go on any list as a bad pet owner or anything like that,” Jasnoch said. “If you have to surrender, really it’s the right thing to do to take your pet somewhere it will be taken care of. There are enough groups around here to take it in.”

Prairie’s Edge takes everything from cats and dogs to birds, rabbits, pet rats and ferrets. SAFE is a dog-centric shelter.

At both shelters, staff and volunteers are available to consult on pet concerns — from the puppy who won’t stop chewing on household items to the cat who doesn’t like the litter box. Prairie’s Edge even offers classes for puppies and for basic and advanced manners.

“Sometimes if the pet owner is overwhelmed they feel like they have no other choice,” Jasnoch said. “That’s why we try to talk to them before they surrender, to see if there’s anything we can do to help them fix the problem without having to get rid of the animal.”

Article source: http://www.southernminn.com/faribault_daily_news/news/article_1111e0d8-474f-58e2-8b12-170e810d107d.html

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