Question of the day: If there is growing concern over how those in agriculture care for their animals, why do so many stray dogs and cats end up on the farmer’s doorstep?
I cannot tell you how many times I arrive at a farmstead to be greeted by a wagging tale of a farm dog. Inevitably, during my conversation with the farmer I find that one if not more of his dogs, “just showed up here one day and never left.”
Many of these animals find their way to the farm from the city. That is a broad over-generalization, but I have proof.
My first encounter of a stray dog at my homestead came in the form of a small terrier. Now, these dogs are not your common farm dog. Therefore, I deduced by observing it through the window of my front door that someone from the city dropped it off. Then I cracked open the door and my assumption was confirmed. The little dog ran right past me and took its place on my couch.
It was a cool dog. It could do tricks with a Frisbee complete with flips before catching it. My daughters could not image what type of individual would dump this sweet, talented, fun dog on a remote gravel road. We posted signs and her picture on Facebook, but there was no response.
We have two dogs of our own, a chocolate lab and an Australian shepherd, adding one more dog to the mix was not going to work out—especially an indoor dog. So, our family searched until we found someone willing to take Bella (you cannot live in a house of girls without naming it). She stayed with us for two months.
I often wonder what would happen if we in animal agriculture got tired of our animals. What if our children no longer found their livestock “fun”? What if we could no longer pay to feed them? What if we just no longer wanted them? Would we load them up in the stock trailer, drive to the nearest city, open the back gate, run them out, all while hoping someone would take them in, and care of them?
No. The farmer understands the sacrifice in both time and money to care for an animal. The farmer understands the responsibility to provide shelter, food and water for those entrusted to his or her care. And, frankly, so do consumers. Otherwise, why would so many try to find a nice farmer to leave their beloved pet with?
On behalf of the farmer, I have one request—the next time you as a pet owner choose to leave an animal on a rural road hoping that a nice farm family will care for it, at least attach a tag with a name on it. Because we in rural America have a life-long bond with our farm dogs and we like to call them by name.