Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No More Rattlesnake Training?

I noted in yesterday's paper that the county has shut down all the rattlesnake aversion classes because possessing rattlesnakes is against the law (and apparently has been for some time. Why are they choosing this particular moment to start enforcing it?) According to the article, some people are concerned about inhumane treatment of the snakes, who are muzzled or de-fanged; and others are concerned about inhumane treatment of the dogs, who are fitted with an E-collar and given a mild shock if they show interest in the snake.

I did get some negative comments from a couple of people that I told about Caitlin's lesson. Both of them asked whether I thought she had been psychologically damaged by the trauma of a shock collar, and assured me that such punitive measures should never in any circumstances be used on a dog.

Caitlin didn't appear the least bit stressed by the training--she was wagging her tail happily as she returned to me--and she isn't showing any signs of post-traumatic stress disorder now. I wouldn't want to use something as aversive as a shock collar on a day-to-day basis for training my dog. But I wouldn't totally discount their usefulness in some situations. As long as they are used carefully by people who have been properly trained, I think they are a legitimate tool. Effective rattlesnake aversion training could save a dog's life.

Val, one of the big German Shepherds that Caitlin likes to herd, wears an E-collar. He weighs 105 pounds, and his owner is a not-very-large woman. She considers the collar her insurance that she can control him. I agree with her. A dog like Val could easily injure or kill another dog or a person. His own life would probably be forfeit if he did.

I would like to hear other opinions on this subject.