This is in response to the letter about the 3-year-old beagle in Arlington, Texas, who is allowed to chase rabbits for exercise and entertainment.I work in a wildlife rehabilitation clinic and see so much suffering of these defenseless, harmless creatures at the mouths and claws of dogs and cats. Rabbits can literally die of fright or run in front of a car while trying to escape this senseless harassment. We humans need to respect the lives of all animals.
P.G., Naples, FL Jun 20, 2010
I embrace your sentiment and respect your concern. Recently, I politely chastised an acquaintance when he told how much his dog had just enjoyed chasing ducks and geese resting on the edge of a nearby lake. It was midwinter, and wintering wildlife, including deer and rabbits, cannot afford to expend energy as a source of canine entertainment. The extreme shortage of food and the metabolic demands of winter (and later demands of pregnancy and care of offspring) indicate that dogs should not be allowed to routinely harass wildlife. Occasionally chasing (without physically harming) a rabbit flushed out during an off-leash outing could be bad for dogs, many of whom cripple themselves by tearing their cruciate ligaments or by impaling themselves on broken branches. This can cost their uninformed owners thousands of dollars in veterinary treatment. Respecting the lives of all animals, as I document in my book "The Boundless Circle," is enlightened self-interest. Frequently disturbed and stressed wildlife can actually become a serious public-health problem.
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