Friday, February 26, 2010

"Killer" Whales vs. "Aggressive" Dogs

By now you've heard the news reports or read the stories about the trainer who was dragged to her death by an adult Orca Whale at the Orlando Sea World earlier this week.  I was flipping through my paperwork from last year, and came across a photo of a Shelter dog that was euthanized due to intensifying agression, and I found myself wondering about the differences between Orca whales and dogs.

Tilikum, the 12,000 pound, mature, alpha male Orca whale, has been involved in three human deaths--although one of the incidents is based on circumstantial evidence. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sea World officials "said they intended to continue using Tilikum -- who delights audiences with outsized splashes -- in its performances.

The article quoted SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment President Jim Atchison, who told reporters that Tilikum has been "a part of our team and he will remain a part of our team."  Removing Tilikum from shows "would be a shame," he said.

Atchison also said, "This is really a wonderful animal and his participation in our shows, his engagement in our interactions and so forth is very important to his overall health and husbandry." This particular Orca whale has been a foundation breeder for the Sea World Orca Whale Program.

The dog pictured above, Billie Jean, is one of our "failures."  She spent months in the adoption room, without enough exercise or training.  She was adopted and/or fostered several times (three times that I know of) and was involved in an incident where she bit her handler while lunging at another dog.  The solution to Billie Jean's aggression?  Euthanization.

The solution to Tilikum's "aggression"?  New training protocols, according to news reports.

The contrast between attitudes--the ease by which we euthanize dogs that have bitten, maimed (let alone killed) a human--and attitude of the Sea World officials toward their expensive (and very dangerous) Orca whale are striking.  I realize that Orca whales are endangered, intelligent wild animals.  I realize that dogs live in much closer proximity to humans than do most Orca whales.  Still, I can't shake the feeling that we have different standards in effect.  I guess it's better to be a "killer whale" than an "aggressive dog."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Peaches Found a Home

My little BYB mama dog Chihuahua, Peaches, has found a home--with a retired couple from Missouri who winter around the "warmer" South in their motor home (I saw on the weather forecast that it was snowing in Kerrville, their next motor home stop!).  Peaches' new Mom has sent along several email updates, and I'm pleased to report that Peaches has learned to walk on a leash to do her potty business, and she is quickly transferring her bond to her new people.  Peaches even has a doggy buddy to boss around (Queen Bee dog that she is), a sweet-natured puppy mill rescue Japanese Chin named "Cappie."  Peaches new family has always had "second-hand dogs" and Peaches has big paws to fill--they recently lost their beloved "Chula," another puppy mill Chihuahua mama dog.  Peaches' new mom told me that she believes her dear Chula was nudging her from Dog Heaven to visit the particular PetsMart where I was doing an off-site with Peaches.

I'll miss my sweet love bug Peaches, but I'm sure I'll be getting regular updates!  As my daughter says, now it's time for me to go get another "new best friend."

Overheard at the Shelter's Front Desk