Research dogs

Hi! Been awhile, I know. Did I mention I moved? The dogs settled in just fine (I was able to bring them by to visit the place before I moved, and that plan worked brilliantly — though there was less exercise and I forgot the rescue remedy! Thankfully, my dogs are used to change, and I got their beds, bowls, and toys set up right away so things were normal for them) and we’ve all been enjoying the new space! You can check out Cash and Lily’s Facebook page for photos and whatnot.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about! You might have seen the following video; it’s become VERY popular.

Now, you should know that I HATE being manipulated, and I’m very good at spotting it. This video sends me to my own personal red-zone every time I see it.

Here are some facts about research dogs:

1. They get more attention and training, by far, than most pet dogs.
2. They’re socialized with other dogs as well as people, at all the right stages.
3. They’re generally loved and adored by the people doing the research.
4. They provide answers for people we love and know, and should be held in high regard for that. For instance, you can thank research dogs for the life of every diabetic you know, as well as the people who suffer from narcolepsy finding treatments.
5. Research dogs are NOT kept in tiny tiny kennels. They sleep in them, yes. They also have spaces to run around and play, and specifically socialize with people and other dogs.
6. Most research dogs, due to federal laws, are better treated than most pets.
7. Research dogs, if they’re researching something non-deadly (ie, not cancer) are retired to homes after a few years so they can live out their days fantastically after helping people across the globe. (In fact, I’ve worked with several. They were lovely, and young — it’s not like these dogs are ancient before they’re retired.)

Here are some facts about this video in particular:

1. These dogs have probably never seen grass. If you take a dog who’s never seen tile to a tile store, they will act this EXACT SAME WAY. Is the dog who has never seen tile mistreated? No. Is the dog who has never seen grass mistreated? No.
2. These dogs are in great physical shape, which means they’ve been running around, playing, and exercising. Clearly, then, they haven’t been locked in kennels.
3. These people took the dogs from the researchers they knew, put the dogs in kennels, drove them who-knows-how-far, put them on something unfamiliar with no one familiar around to reassure them, and filmed it. These “rescue” people should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. A much kinder thing would be to keep the dogs in the kennels they sleep in, take them wherever they’re ultimately going, and let them have the run of a larger concrete kennel (more familiar) and the option of going outside when they feel safe. I can’t even begin to tell you how disgusted I am with the “rescue” people for putting the dogs through this much stress for the sake of a video.
4. These dogs are not, as the video would imply, covered in their own feces. Therefore, they clearly had somewhere else that they got to go out to potty. THEY WERE NOT TRAPPED IN THEIR CRATES.

While I would love it if we never had to use research dogs, the truth is that I would rather my uncle, who has type 1 diabetes, live than these dogs be “free” to live in a home for their entire lives that maybe isn’t as good as the lab they lived in for a few years. Lab dogs are VERY well treated and cared for, and generally quite adored by their human lab counterparts. Yes, they give up a part of themselves to help us humans, and yes, we should ensure they have awesome lives for that gift. But they are NOT abused or neglected, as this video would have you think.

Rather than blindly believing what this video and the media in general would have you think about research dogs, here are some links to give you an idea of what it’s really like. Note that links contain further resources, and are often government sites:

http://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/ncstate/dog.htm
http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/enrich/dogs.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK32668/
http://awic.nal.usda.gov/government-and-professional-resources/federal-laws/animal-welfare-act

I believe, whole-heartedly, that we should continue to make research dogs’ lives better and better. I also believe we should not watch a video and make grand assumptions.

Jenna

 

 

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