Pet Peeves: Addressing Dog Abuse and Neglect with Education

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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My pet peeves may not be your pet peeves and some may clearly disagree or have their own opinions. Pet peeves can all be different but this blog is solely designed to initiate specific thinking into why some people are so ‘dogmatic’ in handling and treating their dogs in certain ways.

Riding In The Bed Of Pickup Trucks

Number one pet peeve is when I observe a dog/s riding in the bed of a pickup truck. Having been involved in animal rescue over the years, I have heard many justifications for why owners allow their dogs to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. I have also known of instances where the dog was thrown out of the back of the truck accidentally. In one case the driver went around a corner too fast and the dog fell out, fracturing its pelvis. In another instance the dog had its leash secured inside the bed and was half hung and dragged a distance.

Owners should really think about the safety of the animal and keep the dog inside the cab of the truck. The owner may be a good driver and normally exercise caution but what about the inadequate driver who is distracted or runs a traffic light or stop sign and hits the vehicle? The dog then becomes a projectile flying through the air. If you really love your dogs, keep them inside the vehicle where they will be more protected.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Number two pet peeve is chaining dogs outside in the yard instead of having them in the house with the family. Domesticated dogs still exhibit pack tendencies and they still crave togetherness. While humans don’t look, smell, act or think like dogs, they do represent a pack in which the dog feels comfortable. Dogs look to us to provide them security, affection and protection in their environment. While some breeds may be more protective of their family/pack, they also expect us to provide them protection as well. 

When the pack is inside the house and a dog is chained or confined outside, they are effectively banished from the main pack. I have heard people say that their dog prefers the outdoors to being inside with the rest of the family. I don’t find that a totally acceptable excuse. There are any number of reasons the dog may “appear” to want to remain outside as opposed to inside with the pack/family. If a rescue, the prior owner may never have allowed it inside and that is the dogs limited experience. Perhaps the dog never received the socialization it needs to be an integral part of the family/pack.

Adopting a Senior Dog

Our senior dog Bozwell, who will be 13 years old in a few weeks, is an example of an outside dog. He was rescued from halfway across the country from a kill shelter after he had escaped from his chain link back yard by unlatching the gate. We were ultimately able to learn some of his history which revealed he was kept outside, “out of sight and out of mind”. He finally at nine months old took matters into his own paws and left where he was neglected. While seeking his freedom, he sustained injury to his paw and caught an intestinal  disease from contaminated water. His owners did not even initiate looking for him for six weeks and by then he was with us.

Pampered and Spoiled

We were waiting for him to be transported across country to adopt him. He is now inside with us and is very content and happy. At his senior age, he lounges around the house on one of the five dog beds or the sofa and sleeps a lot. Senior dogs especially deserve to be inside and tenderly cared for, pampered and spoiled in their declining years.

My third “pet” peeve is unlike the above two insomuch as they deal with owners not thinking about their conduct; or owner negligence. This peeve pertains to those who abuse or damage dogs. Theirs is intentional and I can’t find words to describe in decent terms their conduct. It is good that most states and the federal government now have animal cruelty laws to punish them.

Restoring an Abused Dog

Anyone who has adopted a previously abused or neglected dog knows that the animal sometimes has fear issues. That was the case with our adopted girl Sarah. She would run and hide behind furniture when visitors came. She was afraid of noises and only by never raising our voice or even scolding her when she did wrong, coupled with gentle handling, did we restore her self confidence. It took us years, not months, to see her restored to her normal loving confident self. Abuse in any form in my opinion is inexcusable and Sarah revealed she was seriously damaged by abuse.

It was a very slow process with small increments at a time to help Sarah recover her trust and confidence. Even when we took her to the veterinarian she would cry pitifully. Visits where they would make a fuss over her and not treat or minimally treat  her helped her immensely. At home, coaxing her out from hiding to meet new people who would make a fuss over her also helped. She would hug my leg but to help her we needed her to actually venture out to meet people. Various loud or unusual noises she never quite got over but eventually tolerated.

Different Forms of Abuse 

Our senior girl, Ruby, was apparently confined to a small room because she refuses to enter our pantry or bathroom (both small). At her senior age, we have decided we do not have to change that dislike of hers. Ruby has no other obvious signs of being abused. Animal abuse at any level is totally unacceptable in my opinion and separate from negligence or neglect. Those who abuse animals should be severely punished and made to understand any abuse is not allowed in society. It is my opinion that there should be a national registry for animal abusers much like exists for sex abusers.

Photo courtesy from Google Images and Bruce McElmurray

Bruce McElmurray homesteads at high elevation in the Southern Rockies with his wife, Carol. For more on their mountain lifestyle and their observances of animals coupled with their strange behavior, visit Bruce’s personal blog site atBruce Carol Cabin. Read all of his MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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