Love Will Find a Way…most often to perdition:

When I was a young shelter manager a woman came into our shelter looking for an abused dog. She said she wanted one that we were going to kill so she could rehabilitate it and find it a good home. I told her absolutely not and to get the heck out of my shelter. There were several reasons I was incensed at her suggestion.

  1. There are only so many homes to go around in any community. Saving a dog with a problem that you cannot fix does not change this. Meaning there is a saturation point beyond which things get worse, not better. The chief problem is that not many people can handle a single dog – which is why so many people take dogs to shelters. Even fewer people can handle two dogs and very, very few can handle three or more. If this woman rehabbed this dog and put it back into the community, we would have to kill some perfectly adoptable dog for want of a home.
  2. The woman wanted this animal to experiment with. The particular one she chose was a generally terrified animal. That means that as she played at animal behaviorist, the dog would be scared each and every day of its life.
  3. She had no experience at rehabilitating any dog or even a background in training. She had simply hit on the idea that she would like to manipulate reality to “fix” problem dogs. It was all vanity.
  4. I used to kill dogs as a regular part of my job. I also had to make the pick as to which ones had a chance at adoption and which ones didn’t. I always tried to pick the best and the brightest – the ones who stood the best chance of adapting to a new home. The reality is that the majority of dogs killed would have made fine pets. Imagine being in a situation where a complete amateur takes a dog that has serious problems and forces you to look into the eyes of five or six perfectly normal dogs as you kill them. That is literally an abomination – and it happens all the time.
  5. Some shelter workers do not understand the harsh numbers of their own business. They actually fib, conceal the truth and outright lie to get a dog into a home. “Of course he’s houstrained” is a typical deception. Their immediate evasion of death for that dog causes a domino effect in the community. To quote Abraham Lincoln, you can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time. Eventually this kind of strategy becomes known throughout the community and overall interaction with the shelter declines, which means adoptions decline.

In our modern world of rescue there are many people just like this woman. Their emotional drive to save an animal leads them into a cul-de-sac. Their only solution is to “save the dog from Death Row” as if that magically insures a beneficial outcome for the dog or the new adopters. Some dogs stay in “rescue” for years before someone finally takes them – warts and all. All that time is wasted and the new owners get a dog that will return to the reason it was at jeopardy in the first place. Then they will either become long-suffering fools or take the dog back where they got it – or dump it somewhere else.

3 thoughts on “Love Will Find a Way…most often to perdition:

  1. I appreciate these posts on the harsh realities for shelter dogs and the people who work with them. I can only hope that greater awareness of this situation will guide people into more responsible behavior.

  2. I meet people every day who have either been lied to by the rescue organization or become convinced that enough love will be able to fix whatever is wrong with the dog. I often suspect too that the increase in no kill rescues and the new trend to feral cat colonies allows more people to abandon their animals with less guilt thereby increasing the problem.

  3. I am quite certain from having done dog rescue over 20 years, taking 3 personal dogs through CGC certification, and rehabbing a dangerous male APBT (with a pro guiding the sessions)… that rescue groups are mostly about ‘saving dogs. They are not about rehabilitationg them (basic commands and stop ordinary jumping up on people or house soiling, etc.), but about having the stories and memories of the saved dogs. The dogs are kept from death, but a recently abandoned dog that had a good disposition and had actually learned commands will die. That’s because rescue women (it is seldom men) select the pitiable and ‘helpless’ dogs to “save” rather than take out the ones likely to make a fast adjustment to a new home and get adopted fast at the outset. Yes… I do advocate for the pitiful ones to die first and do all possible to help the healthy and reasonably well-adjusted ones. Save the good ones and do not scold oneself for walking away from the pitiable ones.

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