Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Feral dogs

We thought we'd take a short break from Bo Fever and get serious for a moment. Here at Happy Dog Land, we always try to accentuate the positive. Dogs who are rescued through the miracle of modern grooming. Dogs who survive after being marooned like Gilligan and the Skipper on a deserted island by eating goats. Dogs who accomplish incredible feats such as dragging their masters back from the gates of Hell. You know, typical canine behavior.

But we also try to bring you some tales from the dark side, showing you how dogs (and human beings) are often put at risk by the irresponsible acts of evil and clueless people. The uncomfortable topic of feral dogs falls into that sad category.

"Feral Dog" is a term often inaccurately thrown around by journalists who read too many Jack London novels in school. In fact, there are several distinct meanings for the term. So-called "pariah dogs" such as the Dingo or the Carolina Dog, are wild canines that have lived apart from human masters for (in some cases) thousands of years. While these dogs are "feral" in the sense that they were descended from domesticated dogs sometime in the distant past, and now live by their wits in the wild, they are recognized as specific canine breeds and are now a long-term feature of their natural environment.

Truly feral dogs are abandoned house pets or the stray (unneutered or unspayed) dogs who mate and form packs in urban, semi-urban and rural environments around the world. Obviously the original owners are at fault here (for not fixing the pets, and then abandoning them) but these canine characters out of Lord of the Flies are everyone's problem. Not only do these dogs live desperate, dangerous lives, they are also in many cases a threat to human beings due to their return to wild, undomesticated behaviors.

So what can we do about feral dogs? Well, for one thing as responsible pet owners we need to ensure that (a) all of our house pets are spayed or neutered, and (b) do everything possible to prevent our pets from getting loose -- including spending adequate time training them and escape proofing our yards. But we also need to do what we can to support local agencies (such as Chicago Animal Care and Control) which do so much to help save and rehabilitate these dogs from their difficult existences and help protect human beings from dogs who have returned to a more dangerous type of life.


  1. I live close to Albany Park in Chicago and the area has NO stray dogs or dingoes. Why? It's not pretty, but the presence of Koreans ensures that the strays are removed - and recycled. It turns out that various Asian ethnic groups have no problem with recycling strays in the form of "Viagra Soup"! It's an admittedly ugly fact but Asians make themselves part of the ecosystem by this "green" behavior.

  2. Nothing wrong with eating dogs. Pigs are very smart, comparable to dogs and cats, but we eat them.