What do Beagles, Basset Hounds, American Fox Hounds, Plott Hounds, and Coonhounds (Treeing Walker, Redbone, Bluetick, Black and Tan, American English) have in common? “Hounds have been used for hunting for hundreds of years and are bred for their ability to track scents and lead hunters to animals they are trying to kill,” says Sue Bell, Founder and Executive Director of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Arlington, Virginia.
Often, hunters use multiple Hound dogs to hunt together or rotate them on hunts. They also use trained Gun Dogs, like Pointers, Setters, Spaniels, and Retrievers to retrieve their kill. The question continues: What happens to the dogs when a hunter has no further use for them?
“Responsible hunters treat their dogs like members of the family.” The sad reality is, Sue continues, “Irresponsible hunters will leave their dogs in the woods, drop them by the side of the road and frequently surrender dozens of them at one time to shelters.”
In Virginia, legislation and regulation do not address the problem of callously discarded hunting dogs. Sue says, “There are no fines against hunters who do this and shelters have virtually no recourse when they have an individual surrendering his hunting dogs.”
“Many of the dogs they discard are Heartworm positive,” Sue states. If untreated, Heartworm is fatal. In some Virginia courts, failure to provide this measure of adequate care is animal neglect. “The fact is,” Sue explains, “almost ninety-five percent of all hunting dogs surrendered or found by animal control end up needlessly euthanized.”
Further compounding the problem is the lack of breeding regulations, “as evidenced by the number of backyard breeders and puppy mills.” Sue believes, “Breeders need to take a more active role in ensuring the safety and care of the very dogs they are bringing into the world.”
In response to this epidemic, Homeward Trails created Helping Homeless Hounds. The HT Hound Helpers Team is comprised of volunteers who love Hounds. “Many have adopted Hounds and know firsthand exactly what wonderful companion pets they make,” Sue says.
“This initiative is to get Hounds in our program adopted more quickly so that we can rescue more. Hounds tend to take much longer to adopt because the public still views them as primarily hunting dogs. In reality,” Sue says, “Hounds can do very, very well in suburban and urban communities finding fun at dog parks, on walks with their adopters or lazily lounging on the couch enjoying a football game.”
From now until August 31, 2012, if you adopt a Hound from Homeward Trails you will get a:
- FREE professional photo shoot of your pooch courtesy of Wags and Whiskers Pet Photography, LLC
- $20 gift certificate to PetMAC
- Complimentary weekend stay (including evaluation and two nights stay) at Dog Paws ‘n Cat Claws
- FREE doggy goody bag
- FREE 30 minute training phone consultation with a positive reinforcement, Certified Professional Dog Trainer at Fur-Get Me Not (within the first 30 days of adopting)
And most important of all: a wonderful, loving family member!