Fickle bulldog owners abandoning pets around Athens

Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 7:58 AM
Last updated 8:56 AM
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WINDER, Ga. -- Bulldog owners often are drawn to their pets because of their trademark droopy jowls, wrinkled faces and sometimes-bullish demeanor, but for too many bulldog owners, that excess of character turns out to be too much to handle.

Ruth Ann Phillips talks to Clementine at her home in Winder  Kelly Lambert/Morris News Service
Kelly Lambert/Morris News Service
Ruth Ann Phillips talks to Clementine at her home in Winder

Responsible bulldog owners have to wash their dog's face folds daily, wipe their bottoms and always be on the lookout for the skin and eye irritations that the breed is prone to.

"If somebody wants a dog that they can just leave in the backyard and play with from time to time - then a bulldog is not for them," said Kelly Hollowell, a member of the Georgia English Bulldog Rescue, a network of bulldog-lovers who have taken on the task of caring for orphaned bulldogs - the iconic mascot of the University of Georgia and especially its football team.

Although bulldogs are fairly pricey - between $1,500 and $6,000 for a registered pup - some folks don't do their research before bringing one home, and they're shocked at the work and commitment their new pet demands.

Consequently, dozens of pure-bred bulldogs and bulldog mixes end up in shelters across Georgia every year, said Ruth Ann Phillips, who organizes the foster homes that make up the bulldog rescue.

If they're young and healthy, these prized dogs get adopted in record time. But by the time a bulldog reaches a shelter, it oftentimes has been neglected or has medical issues that make it nearly unadoptable.

Hollowell, Phillips and a group of other bulldog rescuers in Georgia got together in January to form Georgia English Bulldog Rescue. While lots of individuals have run bulldog rescue operations, there hasn't been an organized effort focused on rescuing and rehabilitating unadoptable bulldogs.

Phillips' Barrow County home has become ground zero for these rehabilitation projects, with four previously mistreated bulldogs now calling her living room home.

These dogs spent months locked in crates and were severely malnourished or completely bald and scabby from mange when Phillips found them. Now, they've regrown their fur and put on weight, and spend their days lounging together.

"They're all a little quirky," Phillips said. "It's like having little 2-year-olds running around all over the place. They're very sensitive, and they want your attention. If you're not paying them enough attention, they'll let you know."

Phillips' current crew of convalescing dogs have been at her home for several months, but they are almost well enough to be adopted, she said.

"We've got so many dogs in that have taken a long time to heal, that we haven't had many for adoptions lately," she said.

So far, the rescue has gotten much more business than the founders anticipated. Not only have they been finding more dogs who need help in animal shelters all over Georgia and Alabama, but overwhelmed bulldog owners have started surrendering their dogs directly to the rescue group.

"The main problems we're seeing is with the economy," Phillips said. "Like with other rescues, we've seen an increase in people who just can't care for their dogs right now. They've either had major life changes, and they've had to downsize, or they just can't handle the vet bills, because they didn't know what they were getting into."

These surrendered bulldogs usually are healthy and pretty easy to adopt out, but the increased numbers still have put a strain on the rescue's few foster homes, she said. The rescue now has a waiting list of owners who want to surrender dogs to the rescue because there are not enough foster homes available, she said.

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SayNoMore
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SayNoMore 11/09/09 - 08:58 am
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I think this is probably due

I think this is probably due in part to the UGA Bulldawg's defense this season.

Rudy4364
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Rudy4364 11/09/09 - 09:01 am
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How horrible! I would not

How horrible! I would not "surrender" my dog when my financial situation changed any more than I would "surrender" my child! I have been through hard times but managed to always provide neccisities of medical care / preventive care for my two legged child AND my four legged one. It is called sacrafice! I did without in order to give them what they needed. By the way, none of my four legged children are purebred in reality but to me I would not take a million dollars for any of them any more than I would take a million dollars for my two legged child.

HotFoot
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HotFoot 11/09/09 - 09:10 am
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Ms. Hollowell says, "If

Ms. Hollowell says, "If somebody wants a dog that they can just leave in the backyard and play with from time to time - then a bulldog is not for them." I've got news for you: NO DOG does well under those circumstances. If any Bulldog (or any breed, mixes included) guardian is reading this and contemplating surrendering their animal to Animal Control, you need to know this: Owner Surrenders are the first to be euthanized. There is no provision for holding the dog for 6 days or whatever because that is designed to give the guardians of lost dogs a chance to locate them at the pound. When the guardian doesn't want them, they are totally vulnerable. At least try to contact a breed rescue, like the one in the article, and if your dog is a mix, contact other local rescue organizations FIRST. Don't take your dog to the pound assuming someone will adopt and love him. That is delusional and self-serving.

willienelson
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willienelson 11/09/09 - 09:31 am
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Saynomore, you are wrong,

Saynomore, you are wrong, sir. And I don't find that comment funny or in good taste. To suggest that UGA even has a defense is a slap in the face to defensive coordinators and you should apologize!

jack
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jack 11/09/09 - 12:16 pm
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Seems thos "dawg" fans ain't

Seems thos "dawg" fans ain't too much into keeping up with their "dawgs" when the going ain't ging their way. I have an English bull dog and yes, she has to be maintained properly and doesn't seem to be too bright when it comes to "potty" training, and thinks my seat o the couch is hers when I ain't in it, but is the sweetest dog any one could ever own. I love my dawg and I ain't even a bull dawg fan-I went to a real school-NC State, but can't find a wolf to own.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 11/09/09 - 12:20 pm
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A number and e-mail address

A number and e-mail address would be nice for those interested in adoption. I had a Bulldog for 11 years. He was a joy to take care of even in his old age when he required lots of attention.

sassylassie
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sassylassie 11/09/09 - 01:29 pm
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God bless these rescuers and

God bless these rescuers and the foster parents who keep them until a suitable home is found!!!!!! Rants to the people who get these beautiful creatures then don't want them anymore because they actually require time, effort, and money to care for!! I would never abandon my pets. They're part of the family. WHere I go, they go. What people fail to realize is that animals form a bond with their owners. How selfish of the past owners to dump them off on someone else. But thank God the rescue teams are there to make sure these beautfiul creatures are OK!

emergencyfan
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emergencyfan 11/09/09 - 03:12 pm
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Georgia English Bulldog

Georgia English Bulldog Rescue
http://anthonymurrell.com/

pommom38
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pommom38 11/09/09 - 05:01 pm
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Why all the uproar? Dogs are

Why all the uproar? Dogs are surrendered on a daily basis. Am glad the dawgs have a rescue group helping out, just as other breed's do.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/09/09 - 05:07 pm
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Y'all listen to what HotFoot

Y'all listen to what HotFoot said and notice the link EmergencyFan gave. Save our bulldogs...all pets actually.

mable8
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mable8 11/09/09 - 08:26 pm
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"fickle" bull dog owners

"fickle" bull dog owners aren't the only ones who abandon their pets; they abandon all other breeds as well--especially the large dogs. Anyone who is this fickle should never own a pet of any kind because these people show themselves to be irresponsible.

jedex6
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jedex6 11/10/09 - 12:31 am
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As if I needed another reason

As if I needed another reason to a complete misanthrope.

scbabyphat
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scbabyphat 11/10/09 - 01:31 am
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I have 5 dogs who rely on me

I have 5 dogs who rely on me for food, shelter, love and medical attention and I'd rather starve than to put them to sleep just because I'm having it hard. Oh yeah and 4 cats...

TechLover
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TechLover 11/10/09 - 08:59 am
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On the other hand, all the

On the other hand, all the yellow jackets in our yard are doing just fine.

corgimom
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corgimom 11/10/09 - 04:52 pm
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People often get dogs not

People often get dogs not realizing that they are a 365 day a year commitment. They are also very expensive, and people don't take that into account when they buy a dog. Then they don't have the time to socialize them properly, so when they act like the untrained dogs that they are, the owner gets rid of it.

shadypines
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shadypines 11/13/09 - 04:39 pm
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People also need to remember

People also need to remember that there is a BIG difference between surrendering a dog to "Animal Control" and surrendering a dog to an "Animal Shelter". I was employed at a Humane Society shelter, and when owners surrendered their pets, those animals (if they were healthy and had good temperment) were generally adopted out very quickly to new families. Even elderly dogs had a good chance at being adopted if they had previously been someone's pet. Animal Control (especially the one here in Augusta) is notorious for euthanizing most of the animals that come to the shelter within just a few days of their arrival. Many of the dogs that are taken to Animal Control are strays and they have medical issues because they've never been cared for. Long story short, please think of adopting a pet rather than purchasing one. If you are patient, most of the time you can find whatever breed you're looking for from a shelter or a rescue, and those dogs are in much greater need of a home than the ones from breeders. Breeders will always find buyers. And remember: Mutts need love too!

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