Fearful Dogs Now Have a Place to Go

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fearful Dogs Now Have a Place to Go

What makes some dogs that go through traumatic experiences fearful, while others appear to be okay? To date, that has been a mystery, but the ASPCA’s new Animal Behavioral Research Center in Madison, N.J. hopes to not only get closer to the answer for this question, but also to rehabilitate fearful dogs and follow their progress afterwards.

According to a story in the Huffington Post, the research facility is a two year project funded by the non-profit.

The facility will at first concentrate mainly on dogs coming from puppy mills and hoarding situations.

"It's the first ever facility that's dedicated strictly to providing rehabilitation for dogs that are victims of animal cruelty,” said Kristen Collins, ASPCA's director of anti-cruelty behavior rehabilitation and who is serving as director of the behavioral center.

The dogs will stay six to eight weeks, although their time may be longer or shorter, depending on the individual dog.

Many dogs who come from puppy mills, or from abusive or hoarding situations have terrible anxiety that affects their ability to function in a regular home. Many such dogs are put to death in overwhelmed shelters that do not have the resources to rehabilitate such dogs. The lack of trainers and/or funding forces workers to focus only on the animals they deem readily adoptable.

The Animal Behavioral Research Center will take some of the burden off of some shelters and rescues. The facility could also eventually be an example of how other rescues may set up such rehab centers across the country.

There have been cases in which fearful dogs in high profile abuse cases have been rehabilitated. The surviving dogs who were formerly part of Michael Vick’s fighting operation are now commonly referred to in rescue circles as the “Vicktory Dogs.” Of the 47 confiscated dogs that were placed with rescue organizations for rehabilitation, many are now rehabilitated and are living as loving family pets, office mates, or certified therapy dogs.

At first, many of those dogs sat at the back of their kennels and cowered or shook when taken out. Some were so paralyzed with fear they could not move.

Roxanne Hawn, blogger at the award winning site Champion of my Heart, writes about the obstacles her fearful Border Collie, Lilly, faces on a daily basis.

The rehab center will handle about 400 dogs in the next two years and will hopefully lead to more beyond the test run. The team is hoping to eventually even include cats.

Do you think helping fearful dogs could eventually lead to more pet adoptions?