In my line of work, I get all kinds of calls, so, nothing really surprises me any more. The call I got today was really sad, totally preventable, and potentially, life-threatening.
The call was from a friend, and past executive with the HSUS, who was looking for some help for a shelter. The animal enclosures, like so many I see, was made from chain-link fence fabric. That kind of fencing works well for me to keep unwanted groundhogs out of my garden, but, it does not work so well in a shelter for separating dogs.
Fence fighting happens when one dog can see, or contact, another dog through a fence, and most often, chain-link fence is the culprit. I recommend to my clients that the walls between the kennel stalls be made solid to four feet above the floor, minimum. Doing so, prevents not only fence fighting, but, when installed properly, solid partitions prevent cross-contamination of bodily fluids and cleaning water between kennels.
Todays call was all about fence fighting. Two dogs, each enclosed in their own kennel, began fighting through the chain-link enclosure, and so, one of the dogs lost his tongue! A tongue is crucial to sustain life for a dog. Without it, he will not be able to drink, eat, swallow, and, so much more.
As I am writing this, an oral surgeon is on his way to meet with this dog in hopes for a resolve. Say a prayer for both the surgeon and his patient. I am hoping for some encouraging news in the coming days. This was not the fault of the dog, but, was the fault of how the enclosures were made.
This story is so sad, as it was totally preventable. Kennel enclosures should never allow one dog to contact a neighboring dog, especially in a shelter or working dog setting. Stories like this are why using a Kennel Designer or consultant is so important. There are so many tricks to the trade, so to speak. Things that the average architect has no experience dealing with. I know hundreds of stories like this, and, they all too often break my heart.
Craig L. McAllester