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Abandoned Hunting Dogs are Taxing Shelters

Abandoned field dogs are taxing the rescue community

Abandoned hunting dogs inundate the rescue world – from unexpected puppy litters to cruelly treated “fight dogs.” Our culture is rife with stories of rehabilitated dogs, often peppered with possible solutions to end these scourges.

Abandoned Hunting Dogs are on the Rise

Often overlooked by these dramatic situations is the issue of abandoned hunting dogs. Hunting dogs are generally considered desired purebreds and therefore well-cared for. Indeed, most are. There are several publications about the care and training of these dogs, signaling the devotion many of their owners have for them. However, Hunting culture remains widespread with low barriers to entry. There are many outliers who fail to comprehend how to deal with a high-energy field dog.

Rescue Workers are Feeling the Pressure

German shorthairs, English pointers, and Labrador retrievers are just some of the breeds often found wandering fields or canyons post-hunting season. There are no official numbers on how many abandoned hunting dogs exist, left in a field to fend for themselves. Numbers are hard to come by because dog rescues are generally small non-profit enterprises. They depend upon volunteers with SUVs and donated crates and blankets.

Rescue groups get involved when people bring abandoned hunting dogs into the shelters. Dog-spotters for breed or type-specific dogs pull the dogs and help put them in foster care. Quite often, these dogs will require veterinary services that run thousands of dollars.

Poor Training and Ignorance Leads to Abandoned Hunting Dogs

The reasons for abandonment can be confounding but can range from a dog being gun-shy to not retrieving directly to an owners hand to simply being too expensive to care for. In sparsely populated rural areas, abandoned dogs can roam for weeks or even longer before someone spots them. Generally, once found these dogs do not have microchips or tags. This makes it impossible to trace them back to the original owner.

It is unfathomable that such affable dogs are victims of cruelty and ignorance. Gail Wise, director of the Colorado-based All Points West German Shorthair Rescue says, “These dogs are special because they love people. They are velcroed to their owners, even if mistreated by them.”

Dogs left to their own devices by the people they trust often create food aggression and abandonment fears. Fortunately, these breeds are highly trainable and rehabilitation by attentive trainers and owners works wonders.

Wise explains, “Bottom line: these dogs are born and bred to hunt, even if clueless hunters try to ruin them by treating them as disposable.”

Who’s Helping?

Rescuing dogs need people with the time and resources to transport them across states. They need volunteers to house and foster them, and they need organizations to provide food and veterinary care. All Points West GSP rescue receives help from Hope for Paws Colorado, an organization that transports a few hundred dogs every month from Texas to Colorado. Colorado Pet Pantry, a nonprofit, provides both food banks for pet owners and dog rescues who need food.

Such efforts are not cheap by any means. Rescue non-profits remain in contact with one another so that dogs can receive the care that is vital to their well-being. Education and awareness are crucial to the efforts in order to change certain cultural attitudes that regard dogs only as tools.

“Certain areas are finding their conscience and moral compass,” Wise states, “but it’s not nearly enough right now.”