Animal Welfare Professionals

  • 1.  Enrichment and Quality of Care for "untouchable" dogs.

    Posted 10-13-2021 08:04 AM
    Hello! I want to start by saying thank you so much for this forum, I find it quite useful. 

    I am the Behavior Coordinator for my shelter (started in July) and we are contracted with our county Animal Control. (we are the second largest county in our state with 400k+ residents) 

    We get "biter" dogs in frequently that have to do the 10 day bite observation. More often then not the bite was provoked and easily preventable. Just uneducated people not reading the dog being bit. Our policy is to not touch the dogs for the 10 days, is that common, even if the dog is friendly and the bite was not severe? In my state the only law I can find states "any animal that bites has to be on a 10 day rabies observation. It must be able to be observed by a veterinarian after 10 days." So basically the animal has to be able to be tracked down after 10 days. I understand liability wise its safer for everyone if the animal is not handled but do I have a case if I approach my supervisor about allowing SURRENDERED biter animals to be handled by select staff? (the behavior department?) What is the best enrichment for those that cannot be handled? We give kongs daily, pupcicles, and I do in kennel training (I give commands and give treats from outside the kennel) 

    Thank you for all you do!

    Haley VanDeWalle


  • 2.  RE: Enrichment and Quality of Care for "untouchable" dogs.

    Posted 10-14-2021 07:30 AM
    Hello Haley,

    Does your state allow for in-home quarantine? If you have a high number of Bite Q dogs coming in for 10 day observation and many of these are "uneducated people" who are "not reading the dog" what about focusing on educating the public and ACO officers regarding body language and bite prevention with a goal of reducing bites and keeping these dogs in the home for the quarantine rather than putting that burden on the shelter? 

    I don't see why you couldn't directly handle the animal if those that are handling these dogs are rabies vaccinated and you make those judgements on a case by case basis.

    Enrichment is hard if you are not handling the dog because we are depriving them of a basic need for social interactions whether with people or other dogs. Kongs, pupcicles, and cues given from outside the kennel are beneficial but, safe, outside kennel time is really needed too. Do they have access to the outside?  If they do, nose work games along with special treat finds in their yard could be beneficial for the dogs.

    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF

  • 3.  RE: Enrichment and Quality of Care for "untouchable" dogs.

    Posted 10-28-2021 07:42 AM
    Keep their kennels full of rotating toys and if you're worried about toy safety, kongs and benebones/nylabones are the way to go!

    Kristen Hassen
    American Pets Alive!