Yesterday dog walker Emma Paulsen learned her fate after 6 dogs died in her care back in May 2014. She was handed 6 months in prison, cannot own pets for 10 years, and she can never care for other people's pets. For more details regarding this tragedy, please visit the following LINK.
The Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid Facebook page blew up with many heated comments from concerned citizens. I read them all and felt your anger, exasperation and also your empathy for the dogs and the families affected. A few of you thought outside the box and also expressed concern on how this life-altering event would affect Ms. Paulsen herself.
In my 15 years working in the pet industry, one thing I have learned is that sometimes people do dumb things. I don't know if it's lack of intelligence, a simple trip up in judgement, having a bad day, mental health issues, or what causes us to make these awful errors in judgement at times. But I know I am left scratching my head a lot of the time.
When I was in pet care I had employees make decisions that I simply could never wrap my head around. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself "Really? Are you kidding me?". Oh, and don't get me wrong, I made mistakes too. One thing that I do know from experience is that taking accountability for your actions can make all the difference. The mistakes we made in my pet care business (yes, we made them as we are human) were ALWAYS taken responsibility for. We cared and we did everything in our power to make something right when we had done something wrong (whether by accident or poor judgement). We then worked very hard to ensure that we learned from that error and that it was never repeated.
It makes me sad that news reports indicate that Paulsen has not apologized, nor shown any form of remorse for her actions. If she had, I think more of the public would not only feel that stinging anger regarding what happened, but also a little bit of pity for someone having taken such an awful wrong turn in life.
Please, if we can take one positive thing from the tragedy that happened to these dogs, let it be for us to make better choices overall and to educate others to do the same. Here are some of my ideas:
1. Screen your potential pet care providers. Don't just ask them if they are licenced, insured, bonded, and pet first aid trained. Be sure to actually SEE the paperwork. Their insurance could have expired. They could have taken Pet First Aid 12 years ago. The possibilities are endless. Do your due diligence and check references. *Please note: the owners should take no blame for what happened. They did the best they could with the knowledge that they had at the time.
2. Think twice about the decisions you are making about your pet's care. If you have to question your judgement it's likely for a reason. Prevention is power! Always think about the possible outcome of your actions.
3. Educate yourself. Do you know how long a dog can be left in a vehicle? Do you know the signs of heat stroke? Does your breed of animal overheat quicker than most? Know the risks, take the precautions, and know how to act if you need to.
4. Talk about it. The more we talk about things, the more people know about them. The more we will remember. Don't let this tragedy fade into the past, keep it at the forefront of your mind so that we can ensure that moving ahead we continue to have higher expectations of ourselves and of others.
5. Follow the Facebook page "The Brookswood 6", set up by the owners of the dogs who perished in this tragedy. Help them heal, support them, and learn from them.
We can and we will all do better for our animals. RIP sweet pups.
Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid
Contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org