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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sad story of animal abuse all too common : Aztec Animal Shelter takes in neglected dog "Duke"

Sad story of animal abuse all too common : Aztec Animal Shelter takes in neglected dog "Duke"
By Debra Mayeux The Daily Times
Farmington Daily Times
Article Launched:01/14/2008 12:00:00 AM MST
AZTEC — Puppy years should be happy times for dogs. A time to learn how to socialize and play.

For some animals that is not the case. They are brought home, neglected and starved, kept out in the cold. That is what happened to "Duke," a stray recently brought into the Aztec Animal Shelter.

"He was running around. He had a choke chain on. The collar grew into his skin as he grew," said Tina Roper, shelter director.

The shelter employees had to cut deep into the dog's neck with wire cutters to get the chain out. "His neck is just tore open," Roper said.

"It was horrible, one of the absolute worst ones we have seen," she added.

Some 50 to 60 percent of the animals brought into the shelter suffer from some type of abuse.

"A lot of them that come in ... they are head shy. They've been hit," Roper said, adding that most don't know how to act around humans. "They are scared, and it's hard to get them to understand that not all humans are going to hurt them."

"Duke" is a mixed-breed dog, and is smaller than he should be. The shelter staff can't say whether he lacked food during his growing years, but it is likely because of the neglect.

Roper said that if the animal control officer's knew where this 25-pound dog came from, the owner would face charges, as would any owner who leaves their dog or cat out in the freezing weather with no shelter.

"They can get frostbite. They can freeze to death," Roper said. "You can't leave them out there in the cold wet snow without shelter, somewhere dry to sleep."

While animal control officers do not patrol the streets looking for abuse and neglect cases, they will investigate any call of concern that comes in. If an animal is outside without shelter, food and water, "it would be a violation of an ordinance," she said.

Those calls often come into the San Juan Animal League's hotline, and while the league does help pet owners, it refers those types of calls to non-emergency dispatch, said Donna Ogilvie, co-chairman of the league.

"Any of us that love animals feel terrible when anything like that (abuse) happens," Ogilvie said, adding the league will help to pay for medical bills of animals with emergencies that are taken into loving homes.

The O'Hearn Fund helps to pay the medical bills of rescued animals, Ogilvie said. There also is an emergency fund for people who cannot afford the costs of caring for sick or injured animals.

In the case of "Duke," the Aztec Animal Shelter staff took care of him and had him checked out by a veterinarian. Once he is healed, he will make a great pet, Roper said.

"Duke," however, will need to go to an understanding home, where the owner is patient and the environment is quiet.

"Not only did he come in with physical injuries, emotionally he needs help too," Roper said.

He will need to learn socialization with humans and other animals. He will need to learn to trust. That happens in a loving home, most animal behavior experts would agree.

Ogilvie said that if someone needs advice on animal socialization or behavior, they can get it at the San Juan Animal League's annual meeting at 7 p.m. today at the Farmington Civic Center. The keynote speaker is Ben Gonzales, owner of Doggie Do Right, a mobile dog obedience business.

"He comes to people's houses and helps them train their dogs," Ogilvie said, adding the meeting is open to the public. She encourages anyone with a love of animals to attend.

Back to "Duke." Roper said he is safe and sound, healing at the Aztec Shelter, but when he is well, the staff will be looking for a good adoptive home for the guy.

"He's going to be a wonderful dog for somebody," Roper said.

For information about "Duke," call the Aztec Shelter at (505) 334-6819

For information about the San Juan Animal League, call (505) 325-3366.

To report animal abuse or neglect, call non-emergency dispatch at (505) 334-6622.

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