LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A Purdue University center and commercial dog breeders from southern Indiana’s Amish community are working to create standards meant to improve dogs’ well-being.
A breeder from the Daviess County town of Odon says he and others want to change the image that they’re raising unhappy and mistreated dogs.
“It was time that we as breeders recognize that there are professionals out there that can help us and we need to involve them in our businesses,” Levi Graber, who is part of the town’s Amish community and helps several breeders, told the (Lafayette) Journal & Courier. Graber contacted Purdue a few years ago looking for input on meeting the expectations of consumers.
The pilot program at Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science reviews how facilities are operated and whether dogs’ health can be made better through certain changes.
Center director Candace Croney said the program, which has both Amish and non-Amish breeders, will be used to come up with voluntary management and care standards. Eventually, she said, there will eventually be a national program for breeders.
Croney’s team monitored aspects about the dogs such as their friendliness, body conditions and housing. They were for the most part in good health physically, she said, and their behavior had the most room to be improved. Dogs at some facilities were loud and many got overexcited at the sight of people, which Croney said indicated the dogs weren’t accustomed to often seeing people.
Breeders were advised by the team to ensure that each time someone goes into the kennel area, there’s something positive for dogs, such as a treat. The team also suggested letting dogs into a yard daily to socialize and exercise.
Croney said a big impact was made by the little changes. Dogs with the most issues with behavior got calmer at the sight of people and looked better physically over four months.
“We’ve seen a very positive impact on some of the things she recommends,” Graber said. “I’ve seen more contented, happy dogs.”
Practices of breeders will be audited by a third party when the trial program ends, Croney said. If everything goes well, a certification will be given to breeders that Croney said goes beyond the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mandated standards.
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com
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