Whole Dog Journal's Blog March 17, 2014

Rescue a Coonhound – please!

Posted at 12:22PM - Comments: (7)

I admit, I’m conflicted.

I think there may be no more commendable work than that performed by rescue groups who pull dogs from shelters where they might be (or are slated to be) killed, foster them, address their medical and behavioral problems, and find them homes.

Then there are other people who pull dogs from shelters and, without meaning to (I hope), plunge those dogs into even worse circumstances. What’s worse than death? In my opinion, living in filthy, overcrowded conditions, without enough to eat, clean water, or medical care of any kind, and without hope of escape – that’s worse than death, in my mind. And all too many so-called rescues, founded with good intentions by people who truly love animals and want to help them, start out as the first type of group, and end up as the second.

Just a few recent examples:

http://www.wyff4.com/news/local-news/anderson-news/100-dogs-seized-from-animal-rescue/24570644

http://www.grenadastar.com/contentitem/369096/1218/charges-filed-against-owner-of-neglected-dead-donkeys

http://www.vvdailypress.com/articles/lucerne-45181-rescuers-valley.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/11/300-dead-birds-animal-rescue-volunteer-gretchen-rell_n_4941831.html?utm_hp_ref=green

One of the ingredients for a “failed” rescue seems to be when just one or two people are behind the rescue effort for too long. Caring for a lot of animals can wear anyone down, and if you try it without sufficient help or ample funds, it can be exhausting and depressing – not to mention, financially challenging.

Also, once shelters or individuals know there is a “no-kill” option in their area, they are often all-too-fast to try to surrender animals to the “rescue” – without doing due diligence, to make sure the organization is healthy and well. It’s easy for a soft-hearted person, trying to do good work, to get buried under an avalanche of animals needing homes, and not enough time to market those animals to potential new owners. A “good” rescue sometimes says no; they don’t take in more animals than they can care for. And in this case, I think they are doing the animals a disservice.

But, as I said, I’m conflicted. I recently pulled a dog out of a shelter, and brought it to a rescue group – one that is doing terrific work. And yet, I felt guilty for bringing one more dog to a group who is already trying to place LOTS of similar dogs.

My local shelter didn’t want to give a particular dog a chance, citing his size, lack of training, and “drive.” He is a Redbone Coonhound, and typical for the breed: tall, strong, and yes, loud. And yet, he wasn’t aggressive, wasn’t a cat killer, wasn’t dying of heartworm or anything else – he was just another big, active, loud, untrained young dog. He was sweet and trainable, but the powers-that-be decided he was not a good adoption candidate. Sometimes that means the animal himself is unsuited for life in any human society, but in this case, it seemed that someone thought it was unlikely that he’d find a suitable home in our community any time soon. I hate that sort of decision – and I understand that it’s why many people hate and speak disparaging of “so-called shelters.”

I couldn’t stand by and watch him get euthanized for no good reason – I also can’t foster a dog of his size and lung capacity without alienating my husband, my own animals, and neighbors. Fortunately, I know this one terrific rescue group, the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue (www.coonhoundrescue.com), which was started as a strict Black and Tan rescue, but which also takes in hounds of other breeds. They have an active national network of people working for the hounds: some who provide foster homes, training, and socializing for the dogs; some who provide transportation services, moving dogs to available foster homes, or in the best case scenario, transporting dogs long-distance from foster to permanent adoptive homes; and donors, people who have or have had coonhounds and want to help.

I asked, and got permission to transport this dog to the West Coast coordinator for the group – who is already hosting a dozen or so equally needy hounds! She operates a boarding and daycare facility, so it’s not like her home is buried under hounds, but still – that’s a lot of extra work.

So, I’m going to make a donation to the group, and I’ve offered to help transport dogs when I can. And I’d certainly like to help publicize the group; they do amazing work. Their good-news stories appear daily on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/90624386172/). And I’d also recommend these dogs to anyone looking for their next dog; they may not all be as calm as the famous Maddie the Coonhound (http://maddieonthings.com/) but they are smart, funny dogs who do mellow after those first couple of years. 

Comments (7)

And I am going to do just that! After 14 wonderful years with my sweet Redbone, Phoenix, I am getting another coonie today! A Bluetick named Sadie. I can hardly wait. I am getting her from a rural kill shelter where she was picked up as a stray. She is a year old. :)

Posted by: Pegster57 | May 15, 2014 8:17 AM    Report this comment

Anna Nirva, there is nothing wrong with speaking the truth. I live in an area where coon hunting is very popular and where hounds often get "dumped" in the woods, because they are not a "good hunting dog". Sad but true. We have three hounds currently, one full blooded redbone, one full blooded bluetick, and one redbone (possibly mixed) that was a "dump" dog that had been shot and was almost starved to the point of death. At 24# on the date of intake at the shelter. We were just going to foster Fred, but he quickly stole out hearts and we adopted him. I do need to add that my husband and teenage sons are active coonhunters and belong to a Hunting Club as well. Not all hunters behave in such a cruel, heartless manner. A lot of hunters treat their dogs like family, as do we. I do wish that everyone who loves dogs in general would just foster a hound. They would see that they will never find a more loyal, loving, spirited dog. They are very easily trained and ours do very well living inside.

Posted by: Lindsay Smith | March 26, 2014 7:41 PM    Report this comment

I rescued a Redbone from a box outside our mall 13 yrs ago. I had never heard of coonhounds before this. I've had experienced many different sizes and breeds of dogs over the yrs, some purebreds, others mutts, and hands down, NO second thoughts, this is the BEST dog I've had the pleasure and privilege of belonging to! Smart, well behaved, easy to train, and personality? Man, not a day goes by that 'Jake' doesn't make us laugh!

Posted by: kat the coonlover | March 18, 2014 10:38 AM    Report this comment

3 of my dogs are a hound / rottweiler mix and all have that hound howl and bark. Plus OMG can they run and chase something. I live in the county just outside city limits where they have room to run and howl. Some people often criticize me for having 3 hounds because of the noise. I think they are great dogs and wouldn't give them up for anything. I used to worry about my neighbors complaining about the howling but they all say that they know when something is around and are less worried about the coyotes in the area.

Hounds of all breeds are great dogs! Very loving and loyal on their own but combined with the Rottweiler they are even more so. And a little drool never hurt anyone.

Posted by: sjones612 | March 18, 2014 9:52 AM    Report this comment

Nancy or post editor -- our Coonhound Companions organization tries to stay out of hunting politics. We have hunters on our core team. I should not have written these words:

after the hunting season ends

Would you please delete them? I would appreciate it.

Posted by: Anna Nirva | March 18, 2014 9:47 AM    Report this comment

Thank you, Nancy, for networking to rescue a healthy, adoptable coonhound from needless euthanasia, and then writing about it.

The hounds are frequently overlooked by adopters. Please visit www.coonhoundcompanions.com to learn more about pet coonhounds and foxhounds. Visit our Facebook page and like it. We share the message widely that coonhounds and foxhounds should be accepted indoors to be family companions, just like those popular large-breed hunting dogs (retrievers, pointers, etc.). These sweet long-eared hounds generally have excellent social skills with people and other dogs (but may need to be socialized with cats) and while many individuals may be loud, some are not. Many hounds in shelters are failed or older hunting dogs and some do not vocalize at all, except possibly when trailing a scent (or dinner)! In some regions of North America, such as the southeast and south, where coonhounds originate, shelters and pounds are overpopulated with hounds after the hunting season ends and many of their voices are stilled forever, because like the shelter you write about, management believes adopters will not want them. But some people love hound-song, like me.

See our Resources > Poster Downloads page to read about our free shelter poster program. We would be delighted to send a laminated set to your shelter. Some urban shelters report that average adoption waits for coonhounds are reduced by weeks.

Posted by: Anna Nirva | March 18, 2014 8:14 AM    Report this comment

No breed is for everyone- but as a primarily hound rescue, we know that hounds of all flavors are the best-kept secret in the dog world. These are GREAT dogs!

Posted by: London Sanctuary | March 17, 2014 9:08 PM    Report this comment

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