As a dog “parent” for two shelter dogs, I have long admired Ian Dunbar’s and Kelly Gorman Dunbar’s compassionate training advocacy and their wonderful columns.
I am, however, also compassionate about other animals, especially wildlife and farm animals. So, in the end, I was glad to read Gorman Dunbar’s “Solving the Mystery of Toads Galore” (The Monthly Woof, July) for two different reasons. Firstly, it was a good read! And there was enjoyable literary suspense as I raced through the story of Ivan so I could breathe a sigh of relief after finding that the frogs Ivan retrieved popped out of his mouth (overtly). But secondly, as the ramifications of this (admittedly long ago and youthful) scenario hit me, I realized her story created a perfect opportunity to discuss what seems to be a pariah opinion among dog parents and shelter dog advocates: the harm loose dogs can do to wildlife.
So, on one hand, Gorman Dunbar’s essay tone was perfectly heartwarming, and any sort of caveat tacked on would spoil it. On the other hand, I would hope Bay Woof dog lovers would extend their love and advocacy for their—our—beloved dogs to other creatures. Again, I realize and appreciate that this is a story of a first dog and first training experiences (I now may attempt to teach my current dog Zoë to retrieve food & drink!). But it also illustrates some of the issues national and local park authorities have in mind when restricting off-leash dogs. I can only say that, even dogs who do not kill wild animals, their presence can endanger animals, like the species of special interest, the burrowing owl, seasonally nesting at Chavez Park. The fact that these parks may not be pristine or originally natural habitat is not the issue; we humans have taken far too much land from all wildlife. For the burrowing owls and jackrabbits, getting “flushed” can endanger them in many was; there are breeding and feeding stresses. And these lands are now their homes.
Save the Frogs is a local advocacy group trying to prevent the extinction of “the world’s most rapidly disappearing animals.” And not under guest beds!
Alexandra Yurkovsky, Berkeley
Bay Woof’s print issue of Beast of the Bay 2017 Awards in August contained several errors. The Best Pet Photographer — SF is Hilarious Hound. Bark Stix is in Point Richmond. The Zoom Room Campbell has closed. The Paco Collars website is PacoCollars.com. Google is headquartered in Mountain View. The website for Mad Oak Bar ‘n’ Yard is MadOakBar.com. The phone number for Mission Pet Hospital is 415-552-1971.
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