Star-Exponent columnist Hope Smith’s op-ed Friday, “No matter what their purpose, dogs need our respect, too,” was a well written, thoughtful, and compassionate contribution to the opinion pages. Much to her credit, she directly but very diplomatically talked about her concerns over the issue of the mistreatment and neglect of hunting dogs.

Smith kept the tone of her column tip-toed and careful, mildly suggesting that hunting dog neglect is already a current problem here locally and more broadly speaking. The issue is in fact a serious animal welfare issue badly deserving of investigative reporting.

In my and others’ opinions, it has been sadly under reported, irresponsibly so. The mistreatment of hunting dogs has become so unacceptably commonplace that compassionate citizens are beginning to speak out in defense of these good-natured, intelligent and loving dogs.

One other compassionate person speaking out is my own daughter, Allyson, who is a practicing licensed vet tech in the region. She has seen and treated many hunting dogs. I offer her commentary on the issue; these are her unedited words:

“In my experience working as a veterinary technician in Warrenton, there were many occasions where I helped treat sick or injured hounds that were fox hunting dogs. As these dogs are typically kept in kennels outside, often concrete, it was common for them to have decubital ulcers (aka pressure sores) on their under bellies and bony protrusions.

“The hounds were kept in very thin body condition, whether that was intentional to make them faster and more driven by hunger in pursuit of the fox or due to a degree of neglect, we couldn’t be completely sure. This made their pressure sores much more pronounced on bony sternums, elbows, and hocks.

“Animals that are kenneled, often in close quarters and without much human contact, for the majority of their life have increased stress. Stressful living conditions, in combination with the animals being intact (or not neutered), breeds conflict. The male hounds were kept intact, as there is argument for the animals working or performing better when influenced by excessive testosterone. These conditions made it quite common for the animals to fight and have resulting open wounds or old scars.”

It will be a surprise if columnist Smith and her “call to care” for hunting dogs somehow manage to dodge the proverbial bullets of typically hyper defensive hunters.

Even though she was delicate and nonconfrontational, she may still receive some hot disparagement from local hunters.

I know from experience that tackling the sport-hunting fraternity that any criticism of the “sport” whatsoever, whether the inherent cruelty to animals involved or perhaps the utter failure of regulated hunting to adequately manage healthy wildlife populations, like overpopulating deer for instance, is always met, always, by open hostility.



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