Rescue Dogs and How We Treat People

First off, before  I say anything else; I am an animal lover.

I will usually pick an animal over a human any time of the day, week or year.

However, deep down (even when I say I hate human kind) I love people too.

My heart bleeds for the homeless veterans, mentally disabled and children.

I hurt when our country and other countries have mass casualties.

I guess you could say I am a soft hearted individual.

And, although animals are my first love, because their love is so pure and unconditional; I also find love and empathy for people.

Not all people, not truly evil people (because I think people ultimately have a choice).  There are no tears for mass murderers and abusers and people of the like, but I do empathize with being human.

I understand that not everyone is ME.

Not everyone makes the same choices and decisions, not everyone tries to be as pure of heart.

I was saddened recently when some humans (proposed animal rescuers), attacked another human for not making the choice they thought he should make.

Let me Explain

The family had gotten a puppy about a month previous to this family taking in another family member.

It wasn’t part of the plan, they didn’t go out looking for a puppy knowing another human and her two dogs would be coming to live in their home.

It was an unforeseen tragedy.

They did the right thing, they took in the person and her dogs and spent days off and nights building on to the house so she and her dogs could have their own space.

They didn’t want their family and friend to be homeless, life has gotten so hard in our economy.

Then the father in the family who had spent 10 years working night shift was promoted to day work.

Instead of being able to sleep a few hours and then spend time training a puppy, he is now working upwards of 50-60 hours a week working days, evenings and consistently being on call.

Unfortunately, the puppy spends most of his time running amuck with another dog outside.  Their living conditions have significantly changed.

And, really it is no one’s fault.  Even the promotion to day work was not asked for and money was lost, but what can you do?Shelter Dog

So he placed an add on social media, with friends, looking for a good home for the puppy who is now about 6 months old.

The puppy would NEVER be dropped at a shelter or abandoned, this is not an option and in my opinion should be avoided at all cost.

The puppy is a nice puppy, but due to unforeseen life circumstances, he hasn’t gotten the training or stimulation that he needs.

Do you know that people in the “rescue” community jumped all over him, for trying to do the right thing?

People think they know all the right answers.

  • Keep the puppy!
  • Do whatever you have to…
  • Kick out family…
  • Make her get rid of her adult dogs…
  • Demand your old job back…

When really is all of that in the best needs of the puppy?

Is it not better to place a dog while he is still very young and pliable and highly adoptable?

Or would it be better to see this individual throw up a kennel run in his backyard and let the puppy rot?

Or maybe try and try again and again to make time only to  wait until he is 2 or 3 years old (having developed bad habits for 3 years) to then seek re-homing?

I Used to Be “One of Them”

I used to be one of those people or one of you in horror of the thought of “getting rid of” an animal.

A person that would chastise anyone for getting rid of or rehoming a dog, but the more time you spend in rescue, if you soften your heart and listen to the “people” and their trials and tribulations you realize not all people who rehome an animal are bad.

Some of them are even distraught, and inconsolable but feel that they have been left with no option.

Sue Sternberg taught me this because she tapes her relinquishment interviews.  Most people are truly devastated.

If you were to become homeless would you take your dog with you?

Many of you say YES!  I would have a tendency to say yes, actually.

But what if you could find your pet a warm home, with a roof, and plentiful food, and a bed?  Is it not selfish then to make that pet suffer and starve with you between meals?

What if your job required it?  Would you quit?  Do you think you would be able to make payments to survive in your living conditions for several months?

I used to think there was no reason, no reason at all for getting rid of a pet or rehoming it… but then I grew up and met people in these circumstances.

There are Bad People

There are bad people out there, who use any excuse to get rid of a pet.

  • It grew too big
  • It eats too much
  • It has accidents
  • It jumps
  • Someone in the family has allergies
  • It’s annoying
  • It’s old
  • It isn’t perfect or young anymore
  • We decided we don’t have time
  • We can’t afford to care for it and get our children new x-box games
  • We want a younger animal
  • We want a pet that matches our new carpet (yes, I have actually seen this one used).

There are people who physically abuse pets.

There are people who drop them off at shelters, with little to no excuse.

And, We May Never Knowdonation dog

We may never know which person we are dealing with; the truly distraught family, or the person simply inconvenienced.

The man with the puppy I mentioned, didn’t actually post all of his personal drama, about taking in homeless family or job and life situations changing.  After all that is no one’s business; he was simply looking for someone to love his puppy.

But the truth is we, who are in this business,  are there for the animal, and we are not there to make anyone feel guilty.

Having worked in the animal shelter and animal control world for many years I have seen what refusing to take an animal or guilt-ing someone into feeling bad does.

They make take the animal with them… but then they might take it home and kill it.

Throw it out the window.

Release it on a mountain.

I have heard of people being denied relinquishment who take the animal home and just beat it to death.

Wouldn’t it just be kinder on everyone to welcome any animal with open arms?

I Hate Blame and Guilt

I have gotten to the point in my career where I hate blame and guilt.

All it does is fill me with anger and raise my blood pressure.

I hate blaming an owner for their dog’s behavior.

I hate trying to make owners feel guilty when a behavior modification program doesn’t work.

Sometimes it is the humans fault, I agree.

But sometimes it is not.

And guilt and blame often only means that bad people take it out on the good animals.

Plus it Makes You Unhappy

If you can find some forgiveness in your heart it gives you peace.

I don’t want the bad people to take one moment of my life wasted on unkind feelings that do nothing to them, but ruin my day.

If you blame the world and everyone you become jaded and are therefore unable to help anyone, especially yourself.

I have seen way too many people become jaded in this industry, because heartless things make you sad.

Death makes you sad.

But when you can kiss the dying abused head and find solace in that moment that the animal was finally loved, you can let go of the hate.

The Truth is Hard

03-12-2011 10;54;33AMNot every dog is fit for every home.

I have another client who adopted 4 dogs.  Most got along until the recent acquisition of the fourth.  He instigates fighting among all of them!

There have been lacerations and surgeries on almost all of them since he came into their home.

Yet, they are pushed by others into keeping them.

I can’t make the decision for them, but I think the 4th dog would be happier in a home where he was the only pet.

And, I think if they want a 4th dog in their home they can find the right one… unless they keep this one too long.

If he stays too long, he conditions the other dogs to go into fight or flight at the sign of a new arrival.

What do you think?

Should they be guilted into keeping him until one of the dogs possibly loses a life?

Or should he be placed in a home where he can be king.

Again, I can only give them options.

But I believe not all dogs are right for every home.

I have 2 difficult dogs that would not do well in every situation, but are happy healthy pets with me.

If I were to become homeless… I would struggle with what is right.

I would never take my dogs or cat to a shelter, but I might entertain the idea of letting someone I know give them a good life.

I know this is a very difficult, very emotionally heated subject.

What do you think?

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One Comment

  1. Constance says:

    I have fostered and trained dogs for over 35 years and I’ve always been of the rewards works better philosophy. I do know that there are dogs that are genuine pariah dogs (those that cannot be with other dogs). They’ve been brought to me for training and evaluation and I’ve watched them pick fights with other dogs and when the other dog retaliated, the instigator acted like it was the one being picked on. I make very sure that the dog is placed with someone who totally understands the the dog must be the only dog. However, I’ve also had some of those same dogs live in harmony with cats, it just can’t do other dogs. Everybody is happy. Rehoming an animal is tough, very tough but sometimes necessary for whatever reason but it’s the same situation when someone brings in a dog that is ready to die but the owner cannot let go. The OWNER cannot let go. Some dogs in the wild will leave the pack to go die. One owner went out, found the dog for the 3rd time and brought it in to the vet for us to heal it again. You cannot tell an owner to let the dog go but what we did do was ask the owner to set aside his feelings and consider what the dog would want. Does he want to continue to be in pain or agony and keep trying to run away from an owner who isn’t listening to what the dog wants? In any situation whether euthanasia or rehoming, the very best thing the owner can do is set aside their own feelings and consider the dog’s feelings. Will it be in a better place with no pain or will it be in a better place where someone can spend the time and care for the dog that it needs? These are the questions we ask owners and that people should consider.
    One owner admitted that she wasn’t ready to let go. A week later she brought the dog in and its cancer had progressed in that week so severely that the owner was upset she hadn’t brought her in earlier. What an owner needs to also understand is that they will always question (even after the animal is gone to a new home or to death) whether they did it too soon or left it too late.


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