Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Regulating the "rescue" industry, Bones day 10

A temporary lull in the hostilities between North West Ohio Underdog and the Lexus Project allows a bit of time to examine some of the issues that the Bones affair has exposed.  I am going to begin this post with my summary statement and explain my thoughts.  Regulation of the entire "rescue" industry is long past due.  Please hang in there with me today.

Lets start with just how someone might claim to be qualified to "rehabilitate" dangerous dogs.  In Kathy Sutter's case, it appears that her claim to this skill is based upon a certificate from an E-course from E-Training for Dogs.com.  Sutter spent 18 hours in front of her computer to earn this certificate and she brags that she got a score of 91%.  Note the date on this, 7/31/2012, it will be important later.

Understanding canine behavior would be expected to give Sutter the skills to safely contain the dangerous dogs she "rehabilitates."  In fact, not so much. Sutter explains the disappearance of Bones as a theft during an absence from her home due to the funeral for her father. Condolences to her for her loss, the loss of a beloved parent is a very sad time.  However, it needs to be noted that this is not the first dog lost by NWO Underdog.  This photo is posted on the NWO Underdog Rescue Facebook wall with the message " Sasha got loose with Mason today and Mason returned alone.  She is missing from the LASKEY AND HARVEST AREA.  If you spot her call or TXT 419-508-5730.  Sasha is never mentioned again.  Why was Sasha at NWO Underdog?  Was she there for "rehabilitation"?  Where did she go?

Here is a photo of what Sutter identifies as a Mastiff.  Note the comment to the right.  Olivia Westbrook is "praying that he is found safe and returned soon."  This dog also appears to have dropped off the planet. Note the dates on these posts, one just prior to the date on Sutter's certificate and one just after her new certification.

Sutter is a self described specialist in dangerous dogs and she has lost THREE since her rescue was founded in 2011.  Public safety concern?  Yes, big time!  Dangerous dogs require containment per Ohio law.  Where was the County Dog Warden and the Board of Health?  Were they aware of any of this?  They should have been.

Lets take a look at some of Sutters observations on the behavior of Bones in light of her "education".  On the North West Ohio Underdog blog Sutter describes Bones "He also has a soft lovey side where he will rub up against you back and forth like a cat. Or climb on your lap like hes tiny weenie…" Well that is one school of thought but there is another, brought to my attention by by a comment from a friend, I completely missed this remark.   "It is interesting that this behavior is so pronounced that the idiot rescuer noted it as a particular trait of this dog and also, after experiencing it, perceived it as a noteworthy, positive trait! Wow!"

Sue Sternberg, author of the book Successful Dog Adoption, an authority on successful shelter adoption with over 30 years of canine behavior experience, Executive Director of the Community Animal Shelter Association has another term for bones behavior, anal swipe.  She defines this term as scent marking and observes that is found in "the most dangerous type of dogs."

Most Dangerous Profile Correlations

I consider the large, muscular, non—sociable dog who shows many ‘scent marking’ behaviors as the most dangerous type of dog. I believe dogs that are both physically large and strong, as well as show no attachment to humans, but rub on them with their shoulders and anus, have the most potential for harm. To me, these are not in any way ‘pet’ or ‘companion’ dogs, but rather predators. I also believe that it is, in part (along with training, relationship, bonding, bite-inhibition training) sociability that helps a dog inhibit his bite if and when the dog was to get aggressive.
This is a long copy and paste but a LOT going on here scroll down to the bottom of the page for the Bones update.  
"March 29,2012 UPDATE :Boney is doing very well. So far the biggest challenge is teaching him to play with dog toys and not do what I call the “spin and destroy” Apparently in his former life he was allowed maybe even encouraged to do this. He will pic an object …Bark at it as if he is warning it… and then grab it and start spinning around in circles while he destroys it.  At first he was almost unstopable. The first thing we had to take from him was a garbage can lid.  I was amused at first, because it is funny to see such a big dog spin in circles like that. But then he started tearing it to pieces and cut the inside of his mouth and was bleeding….blood was running down the front of  him and he was not gonna let go of that lid. That day it took 3 of us to get that lid from him. One person to grab his collar (thank heaven for Martingale collars) One person to grab the lid (me) and the 3rd person to throw a bucket of water on him.At first the two of us tried to get the lid. When it became apparent that no amount of scolding was gonna make him drop the lid. I enlisted the 3rd person to throw the water on him to distract him. Well that worked, because it was cold and he was shocked, so he let go of the lid I was pulling on and I quickly put it over the fence out of his reach.The water only worked once though. The next time we tried that he avoided the water and went the other way. He was also smart enough to get out of the reach of the hose.
Since then he has made great progress. Now when he starts to warn an item that he wishes to spin and destroy I can tell him “NO, you go play with your toys” and he will leave it alone. I put the lawn chairs out the other day so its a new thing for him to try to pick on…. I have only had to tell him NO a few times….The lawn chairs are defiantly still in danger though…lol

During transport here there was an incident with a baby gate that he ripped out of the van and spun and destroyed in the parking lot. Seeing this behavior for the first time is kinda scary if you have never dealt with a large powerful dog. However it IS play behavior.
This behavior was learned over years of time spent with his former owner and may take quite some time to change. As long as it is only objects in the yard and not other dogs or people. Its not all that scary…
He loves his KONG balls and he has destroyed 4  jolly Balls so far. He will always need an outlet for his energy …he will fetch until he is out of breath and then just try to hold all the balls…He also has a soft lovey side where he will rub up against you back and forth like a cat.  Or climb on your lap like hes tiny weenie..."

Sutter excuses these behaviors as "scary if you have never dealt with a large powerful dog.  However it IS play behavior."  She reassures her readers that "as long as it is only objects in the yard and not other dogs or people.  It's not all that scary."  Remember the story about the attack suit?  "Shortly after Bones was here he began training … hanging on the wall in the group dog class was a protection suit (used for attack training)
Bones ripped that suit off the wall and attacked it. After class, the trainer and I did some tests and he determined Bones had been trained to attack but not trained to release.
Are these the behaviors of a dog Sutter, with her E-Course certificate, describes as "playful" or the behaviors that Sternberg would consider a predator?  My money is on Sternberg.  This dog is at large in Ohio and I find that scary as hell. 
Another thing I find scary as hell is the Lexus Project.  Lexus Project is run by lawyers who would be expected to use due diligence.  Here is a definition of the term legal term from Webster.

Definition of DUE DILIGENCE

: the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property
: research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (as a corporate merger or purchase of securities)
Lexus Project animal rights lawyers should be reasonable people exercising care to avoid harm to other persons.  They should be researching and analyzing organizations in preparation for a transaction.  They did absolutely none of this prior to entering into an agreement with NWO Underdog.  The Lexus Project will intervene for any dog, no matter how violent, as long as the owner signs this agreement.  Since the Lexus Project claims ownership of Bones they are legally responsible for any injuries he may cause. Deep pockets indeed.  
Regulation of the "rescue " industry is long past due.  Animal rights activists and lawyers feel that every dog must be saved at any cost.  They ignore common sense and public safety.  Violent dogs, like Bones are trafficked across state lines and communities are not aware of the dangers.  Rescue advocates like Rebecca Carey and Mary Jo Hunt are being killed by the very dogs they harbor.  Children like Frankie Flora suffer life altering injuries.  The pit bull that  mauled Frankie was placed with Frankie's aunt by Out of the Pits Rescue

Every "rescue" should be licensed and inspected. Every "rescue" claiming 501c3 status should post proof.      Any time a dog with a violent past is to be moved from the community where its history is known there MUST be notification sent to the prospective location so the facility can be assessed for safety and public health.  These steps would go a long way to preventing a mess like NWO Underdog, Spindletop, the current Portland scandal and too many others to list.  
And remember if you see this dog, call the police. 
Photo: Hoppy Easter from Boney Mahoney
Photo courtesy of the NWO Underdog Rescue public Facebook page.