Concerns expressed for hunting dogs left behind

Published 8:47 am Friday, January 14, 2011

I’ve had a few responses from readers, and I followed through at this end and made sure their stories and/or opinions made it to my columns. In closing out the regular deer season, I had one response other than the Billups family and it was a plea for help.

Missy sits in the back of a pickup on the last day of deer season at Big Woods Management Area near Wakefield. The black lab used to belong to a Montana hunting outfitter, who gave her away because she was too timid. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

The following comes from a woman who obviously cares about animals and understands that others enjoy a partnership with dogs in the sport of hunting. It should give us all something to think about.

It goes as follows:

“Yes, hunting season has ended, and once again those of us who live in rural areas are forced to deal with the dogs that are left behind. Some are seen sitting along the roadside waiting to be picked up, and that ride never comes.

“They are very thin and some are injured. Where are the hunters who run them to near death when they need them? There are two dogs in the Route 189 area this season; one is limping and looks to be near death from either lack of food or hookworms or both. Neither I, nor animal control, have been able to catch them because they fear people. This is all too often the case with hunting dogs; they fear people because they have been abused.

“You can help in this chronic ongoing problem by writing regular articles on the proper care and handling of these gentle natured dogs. They need warm shelter and extra food in cold weather, fresh clean water, worming and vet care, and they need to be treated with kindness. I know there are hunters who provide proper care and treat their dogs with kindness, but according to my experience, they are few and far between.”

I know, my hunting dogs always received extra food during the hunting season; they burn more calories and they deserved it too. They have always been my partners, not just my dogs. They enjoy hunting as much, if not more, as me.

I remember my beagle, Lady, getting a serious cut on one of her front legs that ended my day and sent both of us to the vet. I can also say that I spend a lot of time hunting dogs, maybe more than I spend hunting game on some days, but I have a responsibility.

The chase can be long, the distance great; they have run the course as our partners, and it is up to us to return the loyalty and bring them back home.

I’m sorry that this reader seems to have been surrounded by hunters who don’t do as I do. I have seen a different view. I know most of us do care for our hunting partners. However, one bad apple can rot the whole crate.

Right now, we have a wonderful lab named Missy. She started her life working for an outfitter in Montana. The outfitter said she was too timid and he gave her away. The second owner didn’t like her personality and was either going to find someone to take her or put her down.

The outfitter did the right thing; the second owner would have done the wrong thing. We are glad to have her now.

The only time she is timid in the field is when other dogs are around, and usually it is not an issue with us.

If you have a dog that doesn’t hunt to your liking, find someone to take it. Hunting dogs do make great family pets because they are people-pleasing animals. Let me know, and I will try to find homes for any unwanted hunting dogs.

Look, it’s not hard to understand that owning anything brings responsibility, and we need to live up to that responsibility and show people like this reader that the bad apples are few and far between when it comes to hunting-dog owners.

Have a great week, care for your partners and stay safe.

BOB RUDZIK is a Newsoms resident. He can be reached at