The Garden City Telegram
9/19/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Dog help

Local humane society works toward more success stories.

Finney County Humane Society volunteers have been steadfast in seeking ways to extend the lives of adoptable dogs and cats.

They're doing so in the face of difficult circumstances.

Humane society volunteers also must deal with a seemingly out-of-control, unwanted pet population — a considerable challenge in a community where irresponsible pet owners allow their dogs and cats to run loose and multiply, which contributes to an extraordinary number of animals ending up in the animal shelter.

To their credit, local humane society volunteers haven't been shy about trying different strategies to control the pet population and help shelter dogs and cats find good homes.

Their latest venture involves bringing in a specialist to help shelter staff, humane society volunteers and residents who provide foster homes for pets better understand canine behavior.

Animal behavior specialist Michael Gauna addresses complex behavior in dogs, such as aggression, compulsiveness, fears and phobias. He helps various rescue groups rehabilitate animals in need.

His planned visit this weekend will come on the heels of an unfortunate incident earlier this year that saw three impounded dogs put down, even though some close to the situation said they had a chance to be adopted.

The shelter wasn't full when the dogs — one pregnant — were euthanized after a veterinarian deemed them too aggressive to be good pets.

There's always legitimate concern over the liability of releasing aggressive animals for adoption. At the same time, humane society volunteers who strive for pet adoptions and then see their efforts scuttled understandably were frustrated.

The unfortunate incident revealed a breakdown in communication that had to be addressed. Also, it pointed to the importance of understanding canine behavior, and how even dogs with serious issues can be helped and become good pets.

Everyone involved at the animal shelter — from a local government charged with animal control to shelter staff and volunteers — should want the same positive outcomes.

Humane society volunteers know the complex issue must be addressed with multiple strategies. Credit them for the pursuit of animal behavior training as one of many ways to improve the situation at the shelter.