- Created on Wednesday, 09 April 2014 17:26
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By DAVIS GILBERT
The first six dogs found in an emaciated condition are ready for adoption after surviving a bone chilling winter outside this year.
“We’re still experiencing issues with a number of dogs that were expending a lot of energy in the extreme cold,” said John Greer, executive director of the Welland and District SPCA.
Police on a Norfolk County property found a total of 26 Scandinavian hounds March 3 after a concerned neighbour called police.
The OPP and Welland SPCA found the pack of dogs well hidden in a woodlot chained to rows of doghouses out of view from any roads or houses. The owner of the dogs was tracked down and was co-operative with police and SPCA officials. The man was given the chance to keep the dogs if he could provide a warmer place for them to live but signed a compliance order, which released control of the dogs into the care of the SPCA. No charges have been laid against the Kitchener man.
Greer said every animal that comes into the SPCA gets a thorough vet checkup and is given a body condition score from one to five. Most of these animals were in fair condition, from three to five. There were five dogs that received a body condition score of just one after being checked at the scene by a vet. The shelters built for the dogs were found to be adequate, raised from the ground and lined with straw, and small enough to keep body heat in.
“The biggest issue with the cold was frozen water dishes, forcing the dogs to eat snow, which also burns more energy than normal,” said Greer.
The owner commuted approximately an hour both ways so it may have been an issue feeding them a steady diet.
Scandinavian hounds are a hardy crossbreed of the Alaskan husky and German pointer, bred for short distance sled racing and sprint racing, giving them a natural advantage coping with the freezing temperatures.
“So while for years this breed and its ancestors have been subjected to similar situations just based off the jobs they are bred for, I think it took this area by shock because we aren’t used to seeing that many dogs in those conditions,” said Alexis Maskell, dog trainer of over 10 years and current employee of the Canadian Canine College of Waterford, Ont.
She became involved in the story early on as it circulated on social media websites and gained interest from some local animal rights groups in the area.
“This has sparked movement in Norfolk for changes in bylaws,” she said. This includes proposed laws limiting the amount of time an animal can be chained outside to 12 hours per day. She said the process for the changes are “just in the beginning stages,” and “we’re not sure if it will pass.”
Having the dogs around has been a struggle for others. The owner of the Waterford property where the dogs were found hashad problems in the past with this pack of animals on his land.
“There have been issues with rent in the past and we haven’t been able to use our property or beach for the past few summers because of this,” said Carrie Cloet, daughter of property owner Al Cloet.
Neighbours in the area have also complained of loud barking and howling in the past.
“We were also concerned for the dogs’ well being considering the cold. The police were here before in the summer and found nothing wrong with the situation at the time,” she said.
The family brought the problem to the attention of the Simcoe Humane Society. The owner was not at fault; officials found the animals in healthy condition.
The property owners were not involved in the care of the dogs and worked with police to ensure the wellbeing of the animals.
Six dogs have been given the go ahead for adoption, and the remainder will be ready in the coming weeks.
Bitter temperatures can affect animals, and caring for your pets is doubly important when temperatures drop to the record lows seen this year.
Any questions about caring for your pets’ wellbeing can be directed to the Welland SPCA, as well as any questions concerning the adoption of these eager and trustworthy companions.
Welland and District SPCA: 60 Provincial St., Welland, ON L3B 5W7 (905) 735-1552.