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?
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 Know
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
Not 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?
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.