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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

Close confinement in animals

Published 05/09/08
By Jessica Stout, Office Generalist

Mother’s Day is upon us and I want to take a moment to welcome my newest “daughter” to the family. Born Free USA united with API focuses on exotic animals and wildlife, but I obviously do not have any of those as “children.” So I am going to digress a little and introduce you all to my new dog, Olive, because Olive makes a striking parallel to all of the animals that we work to help each day.

OliveOlive was taken from a well-publicized hoarding case in Arizona, where the conditions were much like a puppy mill: 822 dogs in a triple-wide mobile home. At the time of adoption, we were told that little Olive suffered from a form of doggie “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” and to expect a long road to recovery due to the fact that she spent the last two years in overcrowded conditions, and possibly even was stuffed in a crate with many other dogs. Sure enough, she displays everything from a fear of hands to a fear of the sound of plastic being scratched. She is literally terrified of everything after enduring terrible conditions.

These conditions were horrifying enough to turn my little dog into a tiny, shaking ball of fear. Something happened to her in that environment that has caused certain noises, smells, and movements to send her running off to hide, or freeze her in fear. If this is what those conditions have turned Olive into, then I cannot fathom what the huge numbers of other species that endure similar, often worse, treatment must face.

Consider the sheep crammed into tiny dens and forced to travel in these conditions for up to 32 days; many do not survive the journey. Or the elephants traveling with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, who are forced to endure up to 21 hours on the road, without a break, chained up inside their enclosures and standing in their own urine and feces. Many independent studies by various groups such as the Pew Farm Commission have found that the extreme impact of close confinement in animals has serious mental and physical health implications.

Still, many argue that this sort of confinement does not affect animals adversely. Those adversaries state that it is all propaganda, fueled by us “bleeding-heart animal-rights activists” to further our cause. But to them I offer a glimpse of the lingering effects that these deplorable types of conditions have had on little Olive. Conditions that will take a lifetime of healing for her to forget. Dogs such as her provide us a clear and undeniable insight into the effects these horrific acts have on the animals that face them. These situations do illicit fear, they do illicit pain, and they are completely reprehensible.

If you wish to track Olive’s rehabilitation progress, go to www.infamousolive.blogspot.com

And before I blog off, I want to take an opportunity to wish my Mom, Anne Mitchell, a Happy Mother’s Day. Eleven years ago you fueled the fire by getting me a job with the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, and 11 years later, that fire is still going strong. Thank you for your undying support. I love you.

Blogging off,


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