Broken and crushed legs, sliced-open abdomens and punctured lungs. Dogs lying mangled and dying on the surgery table -- all in the pursuit of sport.

If these dogs were pit bulls used for dog fighting or Labradors used for bird hunting they would be protected under our state humane and animal cruelty laws. Unfortunately, these dogs are bear hounds used for bear hunting and are exempt from protection.

I have been a veterinarian for over 20 years in Wisconsin. I have been involved with many animal abuse cases, but nothing compares to the mauled dogs and painful deaths that come through my clinic in the late summer and fall during the bear hound training and hunting season. These dogs pursue and tree bears. If the bear doesn’t or can’t be treed, they often turn and fight. The damage done when a 350-pound bear bites, shakes and throws a hound is extreme.

The very small group of people who participate in this sport are well organized and politically active. They link to other sportsman’s groups and protest any reform. Sportsman groups and the public would be appalled if they knew the real plight of these dogs.

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Many states have banned using hounds for bear hunting. They aren’t necessary to maintain suitable wildlife numbers. It’s time for this cruelty to stop. 

-- Joe Bodewes, Hazlehurst

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