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|J Kaufman [ Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:00 am ]
New center offers help for dogs consumed by fear
The Associated Press[AP via FortWayne.com]
LOS ANGELES (AP) — People want their dog to be a friend, not afraid.
But sometimes, fear grips dogs so tightly they shake, cower, bite, growl or pee. It can be constant, painful and hard to overcome. Such dread can consume a dog when it's freed from a cage at a puppy mill or hoarder's home because that's the only life the dog has ever known.
Until now, it was up to animal shelters to ease the fears, knowing if they didn't, euthanasia was the likely alternative. But this week, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opens its Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J.
It's a two-year research project being financed by the ASPCA.
For now, dogs seized from puppy mills and hoarders will be the primary patients, said Kristen Collins, ASPCA's director of anti-cruelty behavior rehabilitation and director of the center. It will also include some dogs that have been confined for long stretches as evidence in court cases.
The center will only be able to handle about 400 dogs during the project's two scheduled years, so it won't take an immediate burden off shelters, Collins said, but if researchers can come up with new ways to ease fear, anxiety and shyness in abused dogs, it could have a widespread impact.
And success could mean another phase in the study, to include fighting dogs, or even cats, Collins said.
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