Lynda Raffard is responsible for the health and well being of four children, 30-plus dairy cows, two dogs, two horses, a few barn cats, several chickens and a handful of goats. She is not, however, responsible enough to “adopt” a dog from a shelter. Why? Because the dog will not sleep “with the family.” Rural and farm properties are not always a fit for re-homing a dog, says Manitoba Mutts, a dog rescue shelter.
Never mind that the dog would have access to a garage, barn and insulated dog house. Never mind that the dog would spend nearly every waking minute with a human at its side (much unlike the city-dwelling dog that is alone for a huge chunk of each day). Never mind that the dog will be active, and capable of fulfilling all the necessary activities that make dogs dogs, like running, walking, sniffing, rolling, herding, hunting, digging and more. No, a rural or farm-based home is simply too risky, says an organization that is “desperately in need” of finding homes for dogs and cats.
A representative with Manitoba Mutts, says via email, “We do only adopt to homes where the dog will be indoors with the family to sleep, spend time with them, and when home alone. Unfortunately we see lots of dogs come from outdoor situations that were not so great, so we want to ensure their safety by making sure they are indoor animals, spending time outdoors with their family.”
This isn’t just a Manitoba Mutts policy, either. The Winnipeg Humane Society has a similar one, with some exceptions, as do many other dog rescue associations across Canada.
I’d argue that a dog on the farm leads a great life, just as good if not better than a dog kept in the city. By Houston’s own logic, city dwellers shouldn’t be allowed to adopt either — just recently, six dogs died of heatstroke after being left in the car of a dog walker. (How many farmers require the services of a dog walker? Just putting that out there).
Having criteria before a dog or pet is placed in a home makes sense, (though, really, we’re talking about animals here. They are property, not people), but to institute a blanket policy because of some “not so great” experiences is simply short-sighted and, frankly, upholds a double standard.
And did you catch that I mentioned Raffard is a dairy farmer? She is. She cares for over 30 1,500-pound dairy cows — fine-tuned milk makers that require constant care, precision feeding and protection of their health and well being. In return, they produce litres of milk for us to enjoy fresh, or as cheese and yogurt. Raffard is not just capable of caring for animals, she does it for a living and on a far greater scale than caring for a pet.
She’ll find a new dog, you can be sure of that. And that dog will live a wonderful life on the farm, doted on by four kids and allowed to run and truly be a dog every single day. How many urban dwellers can promise that?
Colleen Holloway is the marketing and PR manager for Manitoba Mutts. I spoke with her about this situation, one, she says, is the result of a volunteer who was too quick to turn an applicant away without due process. For that, they have apologized.
Holloway says that Manitoba Mutts is proud of its track record of having placed approximately 70 dogs on farms or rural properties in the last two years. She says that the organization considers rural- and farm-based adoptions on a case by case basis; there are no absolutes. In the case above, the request by Ms. Raffard should have been taken to management to review.
The organization’s stated policy on placing dogs, both urban and rural, is this:
-4 dog per household limit.
-no sleeping outside and therefore must have access to a heated barn, garage, other proper shelter, not a heated dog house
-Must interact with people in a positive manner daily
-Must not have short fur if being adopted as a working dog during the day to withstand the elements
-Must not be running at large while people are away from the property
-All animals in the adopters care must be fixed unless reasonable reasons are given as to why not.
-Have good references