I've been in animal rescue and worked professionally with animals since the mid nineties. I fought to save as many animals as I could and continue to do so. I work 24/7, have no days off, and haven't had a vacation in 12 years. I take small dogs with fear aggression, but those animals are not exposed to the public, any volunteer, or any visitor. I mention that, not to toot my own horn, but to establish my dedication to the cause. I, like anyone in animal rescue, dreams of saving every animal, but the reality is, we just can't.
At some point, some people in the rescue world decided that, contrary to obvious evidence, every dog can be rehabilitated. They also have demonstrated that the safety of the rescue workers, new pet parents, and the general public be damned, as long as that animal lives. They came to the conclusion that quantity of life is greater than the quality of life, often at the detriment of the animal himself. While still alive, dogs with bite histories are often kept in the shelter for an indeterminate amount of time.
Some shelters and rescues have gone so far as to hide the bite history. Consider the following. The top paragraph is the public listing to encourage the adoption of Hershey, while the second is a true representation offered to a potential holding facility.
Cherryland Humane Society February 25, 2018
I'm ready for you.....are you ready for me? So questions HERSHEY! I'm a youngish (2 1/2 years old) lab mix and I am looking for a kind of calm, laid back home and best friend I can really connect with. So, I know most of the basic commands and like interacting with people but can be kind of anxious so that's why I am looking for someone to compliment my loving, gentle personality and who would love to have me as their only pet. I am continuing to work on my self-confidence and perhaps could use your help! Let's get together!
My name is , I am the Animal Behaviorist at the Cherryland Humane Society in Traverse City, Michigan. Best Friends, recommended that we reach out to you regarding a dog we currently have, Hershey, we are running out of options for him.
Hershey has extreme anxiety and with medication and behavior modification, it does not seem to help. We have had him for 7 months. He is very protective of his people to the point of stranger aggression as well as dog aggression. Hershey has a few bites on his record towards people and dogs. In Hershey's calm state he is affectionate, playful, loving, and kind of a goofball. Hershey can redirect his anxiety into aggression towards his person/handler. He has been returned twice and returned by a foster, which did not work out after almost a month.
We would appreciate any advice or assistance in finding Hershey an alternate place to live, as we are unable to adopt him out. Thank you, Animal Behaviorist / Enrichment Coordinator Cherryland Humane Society...
"He has a few bites on his record towards people and dogs.....He has been returned twice, and returned by a foster.." At what point do we say "enough is enough?"
If Hershey is not adoptable, and unable to be fostered because of his aggression, you know what his daily life will consist of? Living alone in a 4 foot x 8 foot cell. You know what we call that? Prison. Animal cruelty. Selfishness.
How can we tell the public that chaining animals is cruelty when we keep an animal in a small kennel for a perpetual amount of time? Who is going to play with a dog that bites? If even the shelter staff doesn't feel safe enough to interact or foster the dog, why on earth are we expecting someone else to?
Just because the dog is warm and well fed, does not mean he enjoys his life in a prison cell. Doesn't his quality of life count for something?
While Hershey lives a sad existence. a kennel is taken up that could be used to save countless adoptable animals. Instead those animals are turned away to be abandoned or given away because the owner needs to "get rid of" the pet.
We have lost all common sense, traded reality for a dream, and forgotten that the pet's best interest is paramount. Sometimes that means letting the animal go. Not every animal can be rehabilitated. Even Cesar Milan and his Dog Psychology Center have proven that.
In 2015, Alison Bitney, a critical care nurse was allegedly attacked by Gus the dog just 6 days after he was released from Milan's Dog Psychology Center. Bitney claimed she suffered “disfiguring open wounds, deep muscle and tendon lacerations” and bone fractures from the September 23 attack. Bitney claims the dog had an “extensive history of vicious and unprovoked attacks on individuals and animals,” and that in 2013 the dog was impounded in Texas after attacking a trainer. Before brutally attacking Texas trainer, Amber Rickles, the dog had been surrendered to a shelter by a woman claiming he was “nervous, growling and doesn’t like children.” Believing the dog to be rehabilitated by "The Dog Whisperer", the dog was released.
We, as animal rescuers, have a duty to keep the shelter staff, volunteers, and public, safe. Sometimes that means making hard decisions. As difficult as that is, when we became rescuers, that was one of the responsibilities we took on. We have to have the courage and common sense to accept that.