Best Friends Blog
 

Update from Dogtown

To those of you who have been following the recent sad incident at Dogtown, we promised an update and we are ready to share that with you.

Our Dogtown caregivers, team leaders and managers have combed the miles of dog area fencing–identifying, and prioritizing areas that will be reinforced to prevent any chance of a repeat of the unprecedented tearing of holes in three runs in one night that resulted in the death of one of our dogs, Beans.

Normal procedures call for double fencing between runs where behavior indicates that there might be the potential for aggression between neighboring dogs. Going forward, we will make selected areas extra secure. To that end, we will begin to install 9 and 10-gauge, 1”x 1” fencing which is very thick, durable and is used commonly at other animal facilities to house larger species of animals. Early last week the first roll of fencing (one of many to come) arrived, and our maintenance crew has begun installation.

Additionally, we are in the process of hiring two new night security positions. Until we fill both positions, security night shifts are being filled by Dogtown staff.

As for Tug and Denzel, they are doing very well. Many thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts for their rapid recovery. One of our caregivers has noticed that Denzel is back to his old goofy self, wagging his tail and playing with caregivers.

Although we will never know what happened that night, we do know that our policies and procedures will change as we take a fresh look at our animal care facilities and how we evolve the Dogtown environment to meet the needs of our ever-changing animal population.

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  • RIP Crayola

    And now, a week later…another Best Friends dog killed by dog attack-Crayola, and if he hadn’t been a guardian angel would the majority of the public have found out?..probably not…which leads me to wonder how many dogs are dying at Best Friends for reasons they should not be. I just don’t understand what is going on. I have always supported Best Friends but I fear now they are too big and too many of their dogs are in danger. This is at least 3 dogs being attacked and killed in less than 6 months….that is too much. Although my rescue is not as big as Best Friends it is not small, and in over 12 years no dog has ever been killed by another.

  • RIP Abby

    I am just wondering why, again, within, what a couple months, a puppy has now succumb to being attacked by her runmates. And while I realize accidents happen, I feel the size of Best Friends is almost endangering the dogs. Why are the dog interactions not being managed better? RIP Abby

  • Drdoolittle2800

    Patty, BFAS is new to this very specialized discipline. I would encourage you and the senior staff at BFAS to bring together those of us who have been dealing with the most extreme behavioral challenges for years. We aren’t well known but we are very experienced and have a lot to offer to those smart enough to seek the help.

    I’m not suggesting a fancy conference on the order of NMHP 2010. Rather, a simple get together at Angel Canyon where we exchange ideas and work “hands-on” with examples. We can all learn from one another.

    I get the sense that BFAS does not consider itself in need of help. This very incident proves that thought wrong. Mistakes happen, but this was never seen coming. I would classify this as a rookie error. There are many of us around the country who deal with court-ordered animals and it’s time our expertise be shared with groups like yours brave enough to venture in.

    Patty, my thanks to BFAS and the others who took on Vick The Monster’s beautiful dogs. But help is out here and mainstream shelters and rescue groups need that help. BFAS could be a real leader in documenting our work and getting it out to them. Lone rehabbers like me can’t do much in that regard. We need the support BFAS brings to the table.

    We await your contact…

    • Patty

      Thanks so much Dr. for your concern and offer of advice. We actually do seek out advice quite frequently in order to enhance the care of the animals that come to Best Friends.
      We consult on a regular basis with licensed veterinarians, board certified behaviorists, certified trainers, and leaders of shelter and humane organizations, as we believe that an environment of sharing stimulates the growth of new ideas. Speaking from experience, we do have quite a knowledge base as we care for a substantial dog population at Best Friends and have worked with court ordered and behaviorally challenged dogs since our inception.

      This most recent event presents as an anomaly for all of us who work here day in and out with upwards of 450 dogs every single day. I am sure you can imagine the scope of our operation as we take on mostly animals that would otherwise have been euthanized in our nation’s shelters. The animals here are behaviorally and/or medically challenged needing one on one care every single day. Our care of the animals is something we never take lightly.

      So , the short answer is, absolutely please come to Best Friends. I would be happy to show you our sanctuary in it’s entirety and I am more than happy to hear what you may have by way of advice. Being a fellow rescuer, you and I both know that we are in this together and the more we put our our energy towards life saving measures, the animals will only benefit.

      Take care,
      Patty

      • Drdoolittle2800

        Patty, this is not the right forum for a further terchnical discussion of the challenges of rehabbing violent dogs. I don’t use the moniker of rescuer – I, and the rehabbers I represent collectively, are very experienced at rehabilitating dogs that make most of Vick’s dogs look tame. We are rehabilitation experts (rehabbers).

        Your made this statement:

        “We consult on a regular basis with licensed veterinarians, board certified behaviorists, certified trainers, and leaders of shelter and humane organizations.”

        It is this very group of industry insiders you cite that forms the wall of arrogance preventing our expertise from being utilized. The time is almost at hand when the public will no longer tolerate the needless destruction of the millions of cats and dogs every year by industry insiders in industry facilities.

        Every time I try to reach out to bring us together I get the same tired response – come out here and we’ll show you rookies how to do it. Your “offer” sounds disappointingly familiar.

        The industry desperately needs our help – it just doesn’t know it yet. I am approaching Best Friends to REACH OUT TO US because BFAS seems to be willing to try working with the growing challenge of “dangerous dogs”.

        I’ve tried with the famous industry behaviorists like ASPCA’s Dr. Emily Weiss, Boston’s Dr. Sheila Segurson, Minnesota’s Dr. Petra Mertens and gotten nothing beyond a pat on the head.

        I’ve tried reaching out to industry trainers like San Francisco’s Jean Donaldson, and even BFAS’ trainer in its fledgling (and now failing) Community Training Partners Program. Once again nothing but the standard condescending pat on the head.

        That’s why I’m reaching out to BFAS through you. One last try.

        Make no mistake, howver, I am not begging to come see how the “experts” do it. Myself, Alan Papszycki, Steve Markwell, Brandi Tracy, Robert Cabral, and sveral others can run circles around all of you institutional rehabbers. We do it best because this is all we do. We are light years ahead of BFAS, BAD RAP, ASPCA, etc because we we have a singular focus and purpose.

        My original comment was a simple attempt to COME TOGETHER to share – a two-way street. We can’t just drop what we’re doing and come out there to see what you’re doing. Did it occur to you to help us accomplish that?

        We don’t need your advice, believe me. As arrogant as that sounds you need to look beyond the walls of your compound and see that there are some real successful huge operations in place that dwarf what BFAS is doing with aggressive animals.

        Let’s talk offline and I’ll share all this and show you that there is phenomenal expertise and resources available beyond your wildest dreams! What we rehabbers need is national exposure that BFAS can provide. What we don’t need is BFAS’ advice. To show that that is not some empty arrogant chest pounding, I offer this one short video of Alan Papszycki’s operation in New York called Spirit Dog Rescue (link follows). Now compare what he does with your operation and your eyes will be opened. Then I’d like to introduce you to my other firends like Steve and Brandi and Chris. Patty, please email me so we can take this to the next level away from public view. I’m at drdoolittle2800 AT gmail DOT com (get the code?).

        Link to video = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BUAFmyPDbc

      • Fluffysmom2121

        You should take him up on this Patty. He obviously knows more than you and the sad excuses you have as trainers.

  • EmilyS

    So I don’t understand what happened to the fencing that was purchased/put up when BF first got the Vick dogs, I believe using the money he was fined (it was $20k/dog for the “sanctuary” dogs that would be living at BF forever)? I remember there was quite a bit of coverage about that in your own videos.

    Can you tell us whether the dogs chewed through, or dug under, the fences to get at each other? This has never been clarified, as far as I can tell.

  • Megatron1220

    So sorry to hear that this happened. I’ve been volunteering with the dogs at my local municipal shelter for 6 years, and one thing that I’ve learned is that when you are dealing with large numbers of animals, crazy things happen. It is simply impossible to plan for every eventuality when you are working with animals with their own wills– you can never see into their heads and perfectly predict what they are going to decide to do. All you can do is your best. There is simply no way that this one incident can outweigh the enormous amount of good you have done for so many animals. I am confident you will be able to learn from this and move forward in a positive way. Best of luck!

  • ThePookinator

    At my local home supply store, they had a problem with thefts of products from their outdoor areas. These items were fenced with standard chain link, but the thieves easily sliced through that. So they replaced the chain link with welded steel security fencing.

    Welded steel fencing can be obtained with very small apertures, so that dogs would not be able to get a grip using their teeth (and even if they could get a grip, some grades of this fence are so strong that you need a torch to cut through it].

    I would recommend that instead of refencing the dangerous dogs in with more livestock fencing, you acknowledge their physical strength and determination and use something more appropriate like welded steel. it is expensive, but surely the Vick’s settlement money should cover it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad this is being done. Hopefully things like this can now be minimized.

  • save them

    Thank you for the update. By trying to do what is necessary to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again you have reinforced the belief in me that overall Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a great place for animals who have no other option. You stepped up to the plate . I love the episodes of Dogtown and wish you had more. Keep on doing what is right for the animals. I am glad there is a place like Best Friends for the animals that have no other place to go.

  • Lovefelines2003

    Thank you Lillysmom – the site is beautiful and I was honored to sign the guest book.

  • lillysmom

    Thanks for the update. I am very glad to hear Denzel and Tug are doing well.
    Beans loss was exteremly shocking and sad but we know he is now at the Rainbow Bridge. I had contacted Best Frinds and got permission to create Beans a rainbow residency at our site. This is the link if you would like to see it or sign his guest book :
    http://rainbowsbridge.com/residents/BEANS003/Resident.htm

    • Ronda

      Thank you so much for adding him to the Bridge. I’ve just visited….

  • Becky Dodge

    Thanks for the update. It sounds as if you are making the changes that this incident has unfortunately shown are necessary.

    I’m especially glad to hear the both Tug and Denzel are recovering and are on the way back. Hearing that Denzel is again acting the way he did before this happened is especially gratifying.

    My best to all of you and my appreciation again for the update and the continued work with these two and the other animals at BF.

  • Julie

    Thank you for the update

  • Lovefelines2003

    Excellent news – thank you Patty for this update. Glad to hear that Tug and Denzel are bouncing back……I assume there was a lovely goodbye to Beans at Angels Rest? Would like to pay my respects when visiting…….

  • maybe you guys can install cameras around the dog areas so you will always know if something is going on.

    • Fluffysmom2121

      Yes, why not spend a little of the money you got for the Vick Pits on the dogs. You are only doing this because of the public out cry over the death of Beans. Shame on you.