Have you been following the articles about a potentially dog aggressive at the Healdsburg Shelter? Raise your hand if you want that dog living next door to you. Not even Douglas Keane, the celebrity chef fighting for his release, wants to keep him. He is just willing to pay for his rehabilitation and hopes he can then be adopted … to someone else.
Then if an incident occurs, it can be blamed on the new owners, who obviously didn’t manage him properly! Do you want to be that person? And if he does hurt someone’s pet, who will be blamed? We know we live in a lawsuit happy society — and someone will be held responsible. Given how we will sue over everything, asking Keane to have a million dollar insurance policy and to sign an indemnity paper to protect the shelter doesn’t seem excessive at all — it’s good business sense.
Making a dog with known defects available for adoption has its risks. Shelters want to disclose known issues, such as medical and temperament, so that the right home can be found. But that opens us up to liability and the risks have to be weighed carefully. Our responsibility to our community is to only put safe animals out there. Doing anything less not only puts others at risk, but it damages the reputation of the shelter and therefore hurts all future animals in our care.
For every person that has a bad experience with an adoption animal like a medical nightmare or a huge temperament issue, we have lost not just that family as future adopters but many more. It used to be said we’ve lost at least 30 others as they share their frustration with friends and co-workers.
Today with Facebook and Twitter, it’s more like we’ve lost 300 potential homes as the stereotype of shelter animals as somehow “damaged” or “problems” circulates. Making one adoption and losing 300 is not a particularly good business model.
Putting up problem animals not only hurts the shelter, it hurts that breed’s reputation. We certainly don’t need any more stories about killer bully breeds in the media. Goodness knows they already have a huge stigma to fight. In fact, it’s getting more and more difficult to place a pitbull even when they are really nice and passed the temperament tests with flying colors. Ask Blaze (nice adult male), Cassie (young girl we treated for demodex mange), or Orion (a three-legged sweetie) — three super nice pits that have been up for adoption at our shelter for quite a while.
If there are not homes for the nice ones, how can you justify the time and money to rehabilitate a questionable one? To what end? We endorse BADRAP’s (a pitbull advocacy group) mantra of making sure every dog we put up for adoption is an “ambassador of the breed”. We’re actively trying to change people’s perception of the pitbull and have to make sure our dogs represent the best.
When we recently had a mastiff surrendered for biting a person, we actually had a call from the Mastiff rescue group worried that we might try to “rehabilitate” the dog and put it back out in the community. They don’t want dogs like that tarnishing the name of their beloved breed!
I don’t know anything more about Cash or his specific situation other than what has been written in the paper so I’m not speaking with any inside knowledge. And without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to really know which way the dog will go. I just support and applaud a shelter that’s willing to stand up to the pressure of the “no-kill” movement and say, “this dog is not safe.” It’s not easy to do — no one likes euthanizing animals — trust me on that. But it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe. When your neighbors bring home a shelter dog you will thank us for that!