April 24, 2012

That Fateful Ride: The View From the Top of a Station Wagon

Filed under: abused animal — Tags: , — Dr. Amber Reed @ 9:34 am

Just like looking at dog tumor pictures online, it’s hard to look away from the recent outburst of news stories revolving around Mitt Romney and Seamus, the family dog he strapped to the roof of his station wagon during a 1983 family trip.

The story, which was first reported by The Boston Globe in 2007, gives an account of how Romney put his dog in a crate equipped with a handmade windscreen, secured the crate to the top of his car, and drove from Boston to Ontario.

At one point Romney had to hose off his car, crate, and dog after the dog had a bowel movement accident inside his crate. Then, according to The Globe, Romney put Seamus back in his crate and drove to his destination.

Again, like the dog tumor pictures, Americans can’t stop reading and commenting on this story. Because this is an election year, stories like Romney’s treatment of Seamus dominate the political headlines and keep dog loving voters in an uproar. Readers empathize with the family dog and wonder, if Romney seems to treat his dog so poorly how will he treat voters? After all, how people care for their pets is seen by many as direct insight into their character. Right now Romney’s character is looking poor.

Many pet owners think of their dogs as part of their family, and they would as soon strap man’s best friend to the roof of their car as they would their own mother. Reactions to Romney’s behavior range from thinking him cruel and unpleasant to immoral and depraved. There are few who have no opinion.

Romney himself has not offered a statement on the story. And Seamus, who passed away years ago, is not offering his side of the tail either. Either way given a choice between looking at dog tumor pictures and seeing a dog like Seamus fastened on top of a moving car, it seems many animal lovers will choose the tumor pictures. How many of those same animal lovers will now choose a different candidate?

What do you think about this story? We want to hear what you have to say.
Give us your thoughts on this article in the comments section below and voice your opinion.

August 4, 2010

Caring for Abused Cats

Filed under: abused animal — Dr. Amber Reed @ 2:04 pm

cat abuseThe unfortunate reality for many cats is that their owners are negligent, physically and/or emotionally abusive.  Cats that have been abused may wear obvious signs of the abuse, as is the case with cats that have been maimed or otherwise physically harmed; while other cats appear healthy but have suffered years of physical abuse.  Caring for abused cats certainly has its challenges but for many cat lovers, the challenges are worth the rewards.  Knowing that a cat has the opportunity to live in a loving and nurturing environment is often enough for many cat lovers to accept the responsibility of caring for an abused cat.

feline stress An abused cat will obviously have some behavior problems.  Abused cats may be overly aggressive or even the opposite and suffer from extreme anxiety.  Often, cats that have been abused will not readily go near humans and may even be prone to run and hide.  It is important to let the abused cat adjust to a new environment.  Let the cat come to you on her own terms and be sure to treat the cat with patience, love, and kindness.

With abused cats, any kind of punishment – including yelling, flyswatters, or spraying water, will have a much more profound negative impact on the cat.  Instead, reinforcing positive behaviors with praise and treats will be much more effective for augmenting behavior.  When emotionally abused cats feel threatened, they often respond with aggression and the traumas they have experienced often justify their response to various punishments.  The best approach is to be gentle and calm, yet consistent.  In time, even the most abused cat will come around to a loving and dependable owner.  While they may have difficulty bonding initially, they will almost certainly respond to the care and consideration you show them.

April 20, 2010

Taking In an Abused Animal

canine stressOne of the kindest things an animal lover can do is to take in an abused animal but there are obvious challenges that arise in these situations. Neglected or physically or emotionally abused animals often have a number of social and behavioral problems that can be difficult to overcome. When you take in an abused pet, you are responsible for showing that animal enough love and support so it can live a happy and fulfilled life.

Abused animals have serious issues with trust and can be socially withdrawn, lethargic, and even aggressive. When they are exposed to new environments they are reluctant to explore and demonstrate a wide range of behavioral issues from inappropriate toileting to barking and whining. If you’ve decided to take care of an abused animal you should prepare yourself for a long road to recovery. While you may be able to instill trust in your pet within a few weeks, it could take months or even longer to put your abused pet at ease with other humans and animals.

Indeed, caring for an abused animal requires a lot of patience and you have to be ready to accept your pet as it is. Always avoid situations that would cause fear or anxiety for your animal and never use punishment as a behavioral deterrent. abused animalsThe fact that positive reinforcement is much more effective for behavioral modification notwithstanding, an animal that is continually punished is unlikely to rehabilitate. Always make love and support your first approach so that your new pet will bond with you more quickly.

Finally, remember to stay focused. As already mentioned, you have to have a lot of patience to rehabilitate an abused animal and they’re not going to get better on your terms. Try to put your pet at ease in stressful situations, feed them and exercise them properly, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy pet.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.