Of Dogs & Prey & Humane Violence

It’s cold here today. Single digits fahrenheit-type cold. But I my dogs are of the larger variety – a¬†German¬†shepherd mix (Lucy) and an Anatolian shepherd mix (Mica), which means they still have to occasionally venture out into the yard for personal matters.

But that’s not all they go out for. Mica has very natural guarding instincts, and he’s compulsive about keeping an eye out for interlopers at all times, while needing to know exactly where his pack members are as well. He’s always listening, watching, and looking for signs of trouble, even when he seems to be relaxed.

Lucy, is a predator, through and through. Her prey drive is equal to none, and if it’s small, has fur and runs, she’ll chase it. And catch it, and kill it if possible. She doesn’t normally eat her kills (thank goodness, what with the risk of poisoning, etc), but one afternoon, I did watch her snatch a bird right out of the air and swallow all but one wing.

I’ve seen her catch a cat, and while it did make it out of the fence, I have my doubts that it lasted long after, unfortunately. She’s killed several young rabbits, the last of which she was disappointed about when I wouldn’t let her bring her new “toy” into the house, and she’s a better mouser than a lot of cats I’ve known.

I’m home from work today, and the last time I let the dogs out, I actually had to save one mouse from Mica (I’m not sure if he’d eat one yet or not – I’m actually surprised he was playing with it, as he normally doesn’t), and dispose of a mouse carcass after Lucy had gotten it. I’m pretty sure the mouse I “saved” isn’t long for this world either though – it was moving very slow, and either Lucy had already gotten to it and just hadn’t finished it off, or it was freezing to death.

I actually have a hard time with physical violence (which is a little odd, considering what I write), so with no non-violent way to finish off the second mouse, I let him wander off to die on his own. I’m actually not really sure how to kill a mouse in a non-violent, yet quick way. Seems like the most humane thing would be to break it’s little neck, I suppose, but how?! There has to be a “best, most efficient” method, right?

I always hope that when Lucy catches a rabbit, she kills it before I get there. Because I’m not really sure how to kill a rabbit either, aside from breaking it’s neck. And it’s not so much the actual killing that I shy away from, because I’d honestly rather put an animal out of it’s misery than let it suffer a slower, painful death. What I’m most afraid of is botching the job, and causing more pain to something already scared and suffering. I want to help, not hurt, though that seems counterintuitive when you’re talking about taking a life.

Those sorts of moments are the ones where you sort of wish you’d taken your dad and grandparents up on their offer to teach you to hunt, just so you’d know what to do in situations like that. Or that you’d grown up more rural, where making sure animals were taken care of, including put down quickly when needed, was just a part of life that you learned young. It’s not fun to think about, and it’s not something one would need often, but I do think it would be a helpful “skill” to have, in those rare cases it’s warranted.

Which leaves us with another difficult question to ponder this week: if you happen upon a small animal who’s been hurt beyond repair, would you leave it to die on it’s own, or euthanize it, assuming you have a way to do so?


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One Response to Of Dogs & Prey & Humane Violence

  1. Ardee Eichelmann says:

    I have had to put several animals out of their misery and not just small ones. It is gut-wrenching every time. There are better ways than trying to break the neck of the animal in question. Just so you know.

    I am glad that my cats were always lethal when they decided to hunt. I only had one cat botch a job.(That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?)

    In my opinion it is always better to put a seriously wounded animal out of its misery but you need to know how to do it right. If it is a larger animal such as a cat or dog I do suggest taking it to a vet’s office. Around here they do not charge you for strays that have been injured. They just help them cross over, that is unless they think that they can save them. You would be amazed at animals that our local vets have saved and then turned over to animal shelters to finish healing before adoption. We have seen absolute miracles.

    If it is a possum or a raccoon well, you need to take care of business. I almost added armadillos to that list but I don’t think that they live that far north.

    Okay, this is a distressing subject to talk about after being up all night. I should have read this post on Wednesday when it came out.

    Dealing with putting down an injured animal is a hard thing to do.