What Kind of "Injuries, Illness or Behavior"?

The Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) has been handling hundreds of dogs seized as part of a multi-state dogfighting bust this year. HSMO took the dogs seized in MO and IL. 100 dogs seized in other states were sent to other rescues. Some of the HSMO dogs have been released to rescue groups or foster homes but the numbers don’t seem to add up:

  • 120+ dogs placed in foster homes (or scheduled for placement last week)
  • 117 dogs awaiting placement
  • 2/3 of the dogs “tested well for nonaggression and adoptablility”
  • 160 dogs killed “because of injuries, illness or behavior”

If we add together 120(+), 117 and 160, that comes out to approximately 400 dogs. If 2/3 of those tested as adoptable, that would be approximately 132 that didn’t test well. Perhaps we could toss in another 28 that were medically hopeless and suffering (“injuries, illness”?) and that would make it 160.

But hold on. That would mean that every single dog who did not test well for adoptability was killed. In other words, the evaluations were used as a pass/fail determiner of life or death. Is this “rescue” for these dogs?

I consider this Maddie’s Fund page on behavioral evaluations to be the gold standard. It is very detailed and outlines fair evaluations for shelter dogs as an initial step toward determining their future path. Sadly, there are some aggressive dogs who do not respond to training and drug therapy and will have to be euthanized because no sanctuary option exists. Of course some dogs will respond to behavioral modification training and drug therapy and will be able to be adopted out eventually. But not if they are denied that chance. The fact that every single dog who did not test well for adoptability was killed by HSMO leads me to believe that none were given the opportunity for behavior modification.

If the evaluation is used as a pass/fail justification for killing, one has to question the value of the test. To my mind, it would be akin to getting a suicidal person to sit down with a therapist and after the first hour the therapist says, “Sorry but you failed, you’ll have to be killed”. Is that such a great service to have offered the suicidal individual?

I’m not arguing that every dog of these 400 absolutely should have been saved regardless of circumstances. While I wish that every dog who could not be rehabbed had a guaranteed place for life in a wonderful sanctuary, I know that’s not the reality. But I absolutely believe that every dog deserves a chance. The behavioral evaluation is an excellent start if it is used properly as a guide to which direction the dog needs to be headed next. If it’s used merely as a killing tool, then what’s the point? Surely no one thinks we pushed for individual evaluations for every bust dog just for the sake of the evaluations themselves? They are a tool for determining the needs of the dog and what type of rehab may be fitting. Using them as a pass/fail is nothing short of a disgrace.

A “fair evaluation” means a qualified individual testing the dog to determine what, if any, special needs must be addressed in training. Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.

Thank you EmilyS for sending me the link to the AP article.

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