Shelter Pet of the Day

This dog scored very well on all aspects of her temperament test except she bit a fake hand on a stick when it tried to take her food away. She is on the kill list at NYCACC for tomorrow.

Info from the FB posting for this dog:

My name is BEVERLEY. My Animal ID # is A893048.
I am a female br brindle and white pit bull mix. The shelter thinks I am about 2 years old.

I came in the shelter as a STRAY on 04/06/2011 from NY 10040, owner surrender reason stated was STRAY.

Look 1 :Dogs eyes are averted with soft body ,wagging tail and ears back Sensitivity 1 :Dog leans in to the assessor with loose body ,wagging tail and ears back Tag 1 :Dog follows at the end of the leash with loose body ,wagging tail and ears back Squeeze 1 :Dog gently pulls back her paw Squeeze 2 1 :Dog gently pulls back her paw Food 5 :Dog freezes while baring teethe ,then bites the assess a hand Toy 1 :No interest Rawhide 1 :No interest Dog to dog 2 :Approaches the helper dog with head high ,body not stiff and ears relaxed Helper 893140

AC& C — Manhattan Animal Care Center
326 East 110th Street
New York, NY 10029
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
Shelter Hours: 8:00am to 8:00pm, 7 Days a Week
Adoption Hours: Noon to 7:00pm, 7 Days a Week
Closed on all Holidays

This shelter’s kill rate for the most recent 12 months on record was 27% for cats and dogs.

37 thoughts on “Shelter Pet of the Day

    1. Especially if I had just been picked up off the streets, probably having gone without a solid meal for awhile, and got taken to this jail. Shelter temp tests should never be used as a reason to immediately kill a dog. Resource guarding can often be rehabbed and the fact is, just because a hungry stray in a stressful shelter environment will bite a plastic hand doesn’t mean they would react the same in a normal environment with a real person.

      1. BEsides, what looks like a broom on a stick coming to hit you? An Assess-a-hand. this test is SO subjective that millions of animals get killed because of it. DON’T get me started on SS and her methods. Suffice to say I think her initials say it all.

        Also, I know people in NYC and I HIGHLY DOUBT their kill rate is that low. In fact, I know it would be disputed. And why? Cases like this dog – they aren’t killing for space, they’re killing for “incurable aggression”. So sure, when you do assinine things like this, you can tweek your stats to look really good, while all the time you are killing, killing and killing.

  1. I’m impressed with the low kill rate…they save more than MAS kills! (83% live vs 77% killed) I guess SOME evaluation is better than none?!

  2. somehow I’m betting that kill rate statistic doesn’t even include dogs deemed unadoptable through stupid vicious tests like the fake hand. So it’s probably even worse

    1. If you follow Urgent Part 2 (on FB), they do daily postings of those dogs on the kill list and so many of them are young, new to the system and no behavior/medical issues worth killing for. It’s just painful to read. I’d bet they kill much more than 27%, too.

    2. I’d also be really surprised if their actual rate was 27%, although from what I know they will adopt out dogs who fail some portions of the temperament testing. Those dogs just end up on the URGENT (read: kill list) first.

  3. It still boggles me that so many places think poking a food bowl with a rubber hand on a stick, or shoving a child-size doll at a dog can accurately test anything about their temperament in general. As if a dog can’t tell the difference between a doll and a human being.

    1. It sounds like a lot of them have been abandoned/neglected before they get to the “facility” – how can anyone do a decent evaluation without giving the animals some time to adjust a bit? In addition, if you read the volunteer comments on some of these dogs, they are very different from the “official” “test” results.

      Too many animals dying . . .

    2. Susan Sternberg will roast in hell for developing that “test” and promoting it as a way to weed out dogs to kill them. There’s a use for that test… to identify a dog’s issues to SOLVE them and make the dog MORE adoptable.

  4. I am extremely emotional about dogs and their plight and work on the front lines, but Dogs are not people that make choices in the same way people do, and aggression is not something that can be cured or trained out of a dog, but Yes, it CAN be managed.

    So many assumptions not based in fact here and unfortunately denying the behaviour or discounting it will put the dog in danger of biting someone! Identifying the trigger point and managing it is the key, making light of it will get someone bitten.

    The tempermant test is a tool. Since I was sternly taught never to approach a dog while eating I thought most dogs would fail such a test, and was very surprised to find that most dogs pass with flying colors and do not bite the hand. A dog that bites the hand that feeds them is a serious issue!

    Food bowl while it can be managed is still very serious and even the most neglected and abused dogs do not necessarily show this aggressive behaviour.

    The test is not done out of convenience or with a starving, or obviously neglected dog it is done as one additional step to provide information for new adopters. Please do not forget the public safety aspect of adopting out dogs, new owners need all of the information when choosing a new family member. I work with a community of responsible pet owners and yet accidents happen, denial of aggressive behaviour happens. I see the damage that can be done each day with each bite report, with each picture and hospital record. I do not see irresponsible owners, I do see accidents happen and a lot of denial about a dogs current triggers regardless of how they were raised or not raised, current triggers and behaviour must be addressed or there are dire consequences in the real world.

    It is important that new owners know as much information as possible. I work with 150 rescues and only one will work with foodbowl aggression, and that is one dog at a time.

    Know what traits your dog possesses. Aggression can be managed very rarely rehabilitated.
    Also, there is a big difference between food bowl aggression and resource guarding. Food bowl is the most managable, but resource guarding is more difficult as a dog will continue to reassign what is valuable to them (just an FYI)

    Identifying the rescues that work with this behaviour is important as most of them seek permanent homes that understand this behaviour as well.

    The most terrifying aggression seen in the shelter is the unpredictable dog. Great…great…great and suddenly not great and intensely aggressive. The dogs that you can identify the trigger can be managed, but I have seen the best of the best trainers work with dogs whose triggers cannot be identified. Note: these dogs often pass the temperament test. (this is why it is just a tool).

    I believe in listening to the public about their dogs, they tell the truth about the behaviour. Trust the public, give them the benefit of the doubt that they can choose for themselves, but don’t set them up to fail either by only giving them some of the information.

    1. It feels like you are preaching to the choir here.

      First of all – we do not know if she is food aggressive or resource guarding…while she is listed as an owner surrender – it says plain as day she was a stray. So there is no “public” to rely on when it comes to THIS dog. We’re talking about a STRAY. So there is no one to ‘trust’ when discussing “Beverly”…we’re relying on a plastic hand being used to try and take away her food bowl. Food from a stray – whom we do NOT know what she went through. We do not know if they allowed her time to get adjusted to her environment PRIOR to shoving a FAKE plastic hand at her to try and remove the food bowl from her.

      AND to be VERY clear here – I DO NOT LIKE THE FAKE HAND USED IN ASSESSING DOGS. While I “get it” that this is sometimes the preferred method at some shelters…there are some dogs that just don’t like plastic hands coming at them and their belongings. While shelters absolutely hate it…I prefer to risk my own hand getting bit by testing them with a real hand. I can tell when a dog is ready to bite, especially a pit bull, and know how far I can push it before I have to remove my hand and NOT get bit. I have had pit bulls before that the shelter tells me it failed the “hand test”…yet when I try with MY hand there is no problem. Someone testing ANY dog really needs to pay attention to the rest of the dog’s behavior while testing – checking for growling, baring teeth, tightening of muscles, etc. There are normally warning signs to watch for to know how far you can push a dog before it will actually bite you. AND when discussing a stray we need to account for the fact that this dog could have potentially been without food, water, shelter, treated badly while loose – and it is now in a stressful environment with yet more strangers and other dogs in an enclosed area with loud barking and such…some dogs just can’t handle the shelter environment. The only response reads: “Dog freezes while baring teethe ,then bites the assess a hand”. I have seen many, MANY dogs that people hit with items liek shovels, rakes, brooms, etc – ESPECIALLY a stray pit bull because of the general populations fear of the breed. This will result in the dog biting when something like a plastic hand is poked or shoved at the dog.

      Which leads me to the next point – WHERE was she “tested”? Inside the shelter? Outside away from the insanity of the shelter enviornment? After going on a nice walk with a staffer or volunteer? NONE of those questions are answered in the ‘testing’ resulted. AND, all of those play a factor in how the dog will react during something like a fake hand test. If it was her first meal of the day she could quite possibly be hungry and not like plastic hands shoved at her.

      To be VERY clear – I currently have a male pit that is food aggressive…and the more animals/kids around him while he’s eating the worse he is. A little bit about his background – he was an only dog until he was 4 yrs old, at what point he was thrust in a situation with 2 young kids that he’s never been around, plus he was moved from the only home he ever knew to an environment that was completely foreign to him AND his owner was dumb pit bull owner that believed in training the dog by beating it into submission, espcially enjoyed ‘messing’ with the dog with things like brooms, vacuum cleanners, etc. – just because the young, VERY dumb male (the owner that is) thought it was funny to see the dog react this way…not realizing what would ultimately happen. Additionally the owner was quite poor and could only afford to feed his dog occassionally, so OF COURSE he’s going to guard his food and be aggressive when approached with something like a fake plastic hand, or someone that he thinks is going to take his food away.

      I have worked with this dog repeatedly, so he is now comfortable in knowing that he WILL be fed twice a day at a specific time. I also have used brooms & vacuum cleaners around him in the way they were meant to be used (as cleaning tools) – at first he attacked anything like a vacuum or broom while I was using it. I would firmly tell him no and keep cleaning. He is now fine around cleaning tools. He is also getting better about the food since he’s on a schedule and KNOWS that he WILL be fed at specific times.

      The ‘owner’ did not disclose much of this information to me. I spent more time talking to the owner after I got the dog than I did at the initial evaluation because of the issues that came up while working with the dog. The ‘stuff’ the owner did was NOT disclosed at the beginning – even though I was VERY thorough in my initial evaluation of the dog. So your ‘trust’ the owner bit makes me leery that you are promoting it so much. Especially when dealing with pits…not many owner are going to admit to beating the dog with a broom or baseball bat as their training method – they’ll just tell you that they never took the dog to obedience classes..and when pressed to see how they trained the dog (if at all) they do not want to disclose some information because it makes them look bad. This does a MAJOR disservice to the dog because it doesn’t give a rescuer the entire story to knwo just what they are working with.

      Now back to Beverly – with exception of the stupid plastic hand she was fine with all other ‘testing’ they put her through. Yet, in her picture while her ears are perked up (quite possibly because someone was trying to get her attention)…I still can see that she has her tail tucked between her legs, and her muscles appear tense around her front legs. So she doesn’t appear to be comfortable in her surroundings. Maybe the photo was taken right after they shoved a plastic hand at her? Again – we do not know.

      I also note in the ‘notes’ that at one test she had her eyes averted – yet her body was soft, tail was wagging, and her ears were “back”. This sounds like a dog that doesn’t know her ‘place’ in the chain of things. Is she supposed to be completely comfortable in a shelter – no I don’t think so…not many dogs are. ANd, again, I had a dog just like that and once I began training her the FIRST thing I did was work on the eye contact…once she got that part down the rest was easy sailing. We just had to establish I was alpha and she needed to watch ME to get her information on what to do next. So that is kind of a moot point here. It doesn’t mean she is going to bite someone, she just needs someone familiar with the breed to understand her and be able to work with her in the correct manner.

      While I understand that the temperment test is “just a tool” – too many shelter rely on that for deciding if a dog should be put up for adoption of just killed. There are many other factors that should be taken into consideration. We don’t knwo if a guy or girl preformed the tests – the dog may have had an abusive owner that was a guy and if a guy did the testing then it would automatically be flawed from the start. That is one of the resons that I ALWAYS ask the shelter to have one guy and one girl perform the test and compare the results. Many shelter are unable to do this due to staffing issues, but to me is VERY important because if the dog had an owner that was a male and was abused it is going to act differently with a male than a female.

      I think this dog is fine…she just needs stability and to be gotten out of the shelter and into a home that understands the breed – and either the person is a trainer and can workw ith teh dog themselves, or someone that will work with a trainer to correct any behavior issues that are present, or may present themselves AFTER she has been removed from the shelter.

      Again – I have had many dogs that after leaving the shelter THEN they exhibit behaviors that weren’t present while in the shelter. Many of them have problems due to improper (or no) socialization…and it hasn’t appeared to be a problem until AFTER they have gotten into my homes, or one of my client’s homes. But all issues are ones that can be worked with and fixed so that the dog is fine and there are no problems.

      The biggest problems I see are people that have absolutely no knowledge of dogs and how to gauge their body to watch for certain things that can indicated a problem. The majority of the public, even many dog owners, don’t know how to ‘read’ their dogs. It isn’t necessarily their fault (dog or owner) – not everybody has been taught how to read a dogs body language. I have even dealt with people that have had dogs their whole life and STILL don’t understand how to read their dog. They see a pit bull barking and instantly think it’s going to attack them – they fail to notice that the dogs ears are perked up, it’s tail is wagging, and it’s body is relaxed. It’s because they dont’ KNOW how or what to watch for. That’s when it comes in handy to promote ANYONE who gets a dog as a pet to work with a trainer, even if just for basic obedience. Many times in a basic obedience class the trainer can identify potential problems and they can work something out with the owner to have one-on-one training to work on those additional issues before they become a problem.

      The rest of her results seem that she doesn’t have too many other issues. She is obviously not other dog aggressive, as she didn’t even really pay attention to the other dog presented during her testing, but this doesn’t mean that once in a home she won’t show any aggression to other dogs, cats or kids. I have found that many times while in the shelter there is so much going on that the dog does not act like it would once removed from the environment.

      I have had many successes in taking dogs that other people would deem aggressive and managed to work with the dog to completely remove aggression issues. Other times there are some dogs that just don’t like cats (or kids) and again this won’t always rear it’s ugly head until AFTER adoption. While aggression can be controlled and managed – in some cases it is possible to train them so that the aggression is no longer an issue.

      My point is that we are dealing with a stray in an unfamiliar surrounding. The behaviors that are seen in the shelter dont’ always indicate what behaviors will be seen after the dog is removed from the shelter and placed in a home. That is why I completely believe in shelters promoting new adopters to enroll the dog in basic obedience classes – regardless of breed, age, temperment, etc. The dog always needs time to get adjusted to their new surrounding prior to taking the classes, unless there are known issue that need to be dealt with. I have had older couples come to me for training – they’ve had dogs all their life and still don’t know how to read the dogs body language!

      Beverly looks like a great candidate for any home. But she would benefit greatly if placed with someone who understands the breed and is willing to work with a trainer for at least basic obedience. I wish I had room for her, but I have a potential dog that will be taking the ‘extra’ space I do have…and I can’t commit to adoption, as I need to leave a space open for when I get those vicious doggies! I REALLY hope someone gets her out though. She looks like a sweetie and so deserves a chance at life!

      1. When trained to perform the test the points above are described in detail as to the prep of the dog prior to the test.

        I fear you are not giving the testers enough credit and your shelter experience has been with a less than progressive shelter (just speculating here)

        I have followed a two year study of at risk dogs at Longmont Humane Society in Colorado. Dogs that tested poorly were slotted for the study and appropriate homes were selected and they worked through desensitizing and positive reinforcement training equally.
        All of the dogs (All 200 dogs) showed increased aggression overtime that needed to be managed. I am not an expert and the longer I am in the field the more that I realize can be learned, but your personal experience seems to address one dog at a time, which is why individuals and rescues alike need to be identified in each community to work with these dogs.

        Further assessment outside of the shelter in a foster home is recommended, but most municipal shelters are temporary holding facilities and not long term rehabilitation centers, they can offer a glimpse to help place appropriately. Offering the dogs a starting point of what they are capable of when under stress that should not be ignored or glossed over with speculation of their past experience.

        Identify the limitations of the community and filling the gaps is essential for a succesful rescue program. Does this entirely fall on the municipal shelter that is in charge of public safety or are they simply the originating intake agency?

        I am merely debating the points because this seems one sided on the board, and I am offering a different opinion.

        I am offering a glimpse of the other side of a mass holding facility that is charged with enforcement and public health and safety. A glimpse at how we are trying to improve and be full disclosure and welcoming. Each shelter begins with a starting point.

        Note, I am speaking from a progressive shelter, but it has taken a long time to bring the staff, municipal shelter and rescues together.

        While I may be rambling a bit, I just want as much information given to owners without apologies made about abuse and neglect that gloss over aggression and can pose a danger to good hearted dog owners.

        A true experience. 9 puppies taking down and mauling an 11 year old girl. The action of these puppies is real and can not be discounted. The puppies wiggled and wagged during their entire rabies impound, but do you discount this violent behaviour?

        Note: I owned my pittie buddies first and now have rotts because I was seeking a less active breed. I love these dogs too.

      2. yer just doing it wrong… using it to identify issues to solve.

        the point of the test is to push the dog until it reacts.. and then use that as an excuse to kill it.

    2. dodgedog: You a Sternberg spy or something? I have taken in hundreds of dogs who failed this STUPIDass test – and they never had a problem. And for your info, “these dogs” as you put it can be rehabbed if they do have a problem. Honestly, I think your phishing here.

      1. Sue Sternberg is a bit extreme for me. A Sternberg spy? No, just speaking from a shelter environment of herd health and public safety.

        I work with all the rescues in my community, have highly trained staff and a behaviorist that is certified through my state. I am fortunate to have the flexibility to continue learning in the field, but feel the need for more information on this board from the other side.

        This shelter does need to come forth with full disclosure as a starting point. A closed mystery shrouded Animal Care and Control is not a good thing, but be ready when they come forth to do that “Don’t shoot the Shelter”

  5. The puppies were exhibiting pack behaviour – I have even seen that kind of thing here, with dogs that are NOT aggressive under any other circumstances – wait, let me clarify: if two dogs get over-aroused,other dogs will join in. That is PACK BEHAVIOUR. I appreciate your distance from SS. Extreme is a word, but not one I would use. At any rate, I have been to SS seminars, and she has openly stated that she is “the Hitler of dogs” and no dogs over 40 pounds should ever find homes, the rest euthanized. Further, her protocols in her seminar did nothing to “prep” an animal for the testing. They were simply taken out of their kennels and tested. Now, your shelter may be way more progressive but you are still using her protocols. IMHO, these protocols are killing excuse-adjusters. Dogs behave in many different ways for many different reasons. Yes, the shelter is a temp. holding facility, but that doesn’t excuse killing a dog for being afraid, confused, starving, defensive. These responses are common to ALL dogs at one time or another, and should not be considered for ‘short-listing’ an animal, and then even worse, as in the case of NYCACC, adjusting your stats to show how wonderful you are! Sorry, that doesn’t fly for me any way you slice it.

    The puppy incident is unfortunate – what kind and what age were these pups, and how old the girl??? Where were her parent(s)??? See, the dogs are not necessarily responsible all the time. They are acting like dogs. If we want animals to act like us, get married or go to a Toys’r’us. The real world doesn’t come with guarantees on anything.

  6. I don’t think our opinions are that far apart. The test “should” be used as a tool as to whether adoption or rescue is appropriate. As for the fail and die scenario, I can see that is how this test could be used inappropriately and by Sue even intended.

    The pups were 10 weeks old and I do understand that pack behaviour took over, but is that an excuse for such little bite inhibition on a human? (really a question)

    So many here are No Kill Equation advocates. Can I ask sincerely what is to be done with aggressive dogs (not scared, not from a starved or abused situation), but dogs we can’t touch that come in as strays of which have no way to be deemed dangerous in a court of law??? Rescues won’t touch them, the behaviourist can often explain the behaviour, but without and owner willing to work with the dog or a rescue prepared to handle the dog what should a shelter do? (once again really reaching for ideas)

    1. No, I agree, that is not an excuse for lack of bite inhibition. Unfortunately, not having all the info on that situation, I cannot comment on what went wrong. I doubt that an entire litter of pups was “innately” dangerously aggressive. There IS alot to nurture vs. nature, imho. We once took in a Chi who was absolutely vicious. He peeled the back of my hand like a grape on one occasion! And that wasn’t the only time he got me. BUT, after years of working with him, he settled down. Yes, we had to remember his triggers etc., but it was worth it to see him become a happy little boy. That is what WE do here at WHSInc. HOWEVER, I realize we are one of the few who do this sort of thing.

      I can’t say to your last question that dogs like this should not be euth’d. HOWEVER, my caveat is to give the animal a bit of time and try to assess his M.O. I know shelters don’t always have that luxury of time, but some dogs are really worth the effort.

      I guess my final answer to the final question is when they can clone nutcases like me, problem solved. :-) I have rarely had a dog here who was deemed aggressive by the shelter that actually wasn’t all that bad; I have had it the other way ’round more often.

    2. Dogedog, I boarded a husky/akita mix named Shadow for a young couple. Their first month’s board went to pay the cost of his neuter (a condition of boarding) they paid his second month, and then relinquished him the fourth month after they couldn’t afford to pay the third month’s boarding costs. I trained him as a sled dog, he was marginal, but he relaxed more with exercise.
      But he climbed the fence, put holes in three of my other dogs, ate through the chicken wire and killed the last of my chickens (four birds that had to be at least seven years old) and then headed for the cow paddock. He tore my cow’s ear, she and her yearling calf were standing back-to-back with the dog circling when I finally got there.
      The dog came running right up to me, took a biscuit, and let me put him on a lead. I put him on a chain in a pen and spent the next two days trying to repair/clean-up the messes he’d made.
      My vet recommended that I NOT return the dog to the rescue that I volunteered for. (He was very smart, very athletic, and had a hairline trigger that seemed to snap without much warning.)
      I took him to Animal Control and had him killed. Yes, he perhaps could have been *managed* but obviously not by me! I have too many other animals that depend on me and I cannot invest in one that is a danger to all the rest. He needed a VERY diligent and savvy home, preferably one that didn’t have other animals. The chances of my finding that *perfect home* were slim to none. I made the decision to have him killed and save our community from future trouble. Yes, I am a no-kill advocate. Yes, I still remember and mourn the death of Shadow. I failed him.
      I currently have 17 foster dogs. Not too many people are jumping to adopt them! Many would be considered unadoptable by our local Animal Control. But I don’t think they deserve to die.
      We all just do the best we can. Although I question if MAS is even trying. Pepper makes more than my hubby…never mind how much I lose trying to save all these others!
      p.s. I have another dog, a feral, that is NOT available for adoption. She’s come a long way baby, but she is not safe with the general public, so she’s in sanctuary with me for the rest of her natural life. She’s put holes in a few of my other dogs too…but it wasn’t the same. I trust her. She is honest. Also, she has survived many horrible experiences and I have promised to protect her from humankind for the rest of our lives.

      1. LynnO

        Not sure how I missed this earlier. Thank you for this very honest post.

        We mourn the loss of many an aggressive dog that are court ordered to die. Some dogs thrive in the structured shelter environment and take to individuals or even all of the staff, so we mourn those dogs and make their life as happy and enriched as possible while not forgetting that they will not be released.

        I do not expect the staff to euthanize when this happens and I assist our vet at these times to show compassion to the people as well as the dogs.

  7. I really appreciate this discussion. Thank you all for sharing. Since we all seem to think that not evaluating at all is a bad thing, would any of you be interested in evaluating which is worse, no evaluation at all, or a false or negative evaluation to justify killing and therefore fudge the true kill rate?
    Seems to me that open admission no-kill facilities have proven that less than 3% of animals taken in are not worthy of life. (I get the whole herd health and public safety argument–I think it sucks, but I get it.)
    I realize neither policy (kill em all vs test em to justify killing em) is the best. But is there a lesser of two evils here?
    I also understand that the average pet owner and the typical adopter (is there such a person!?) Shouldn’t be expected to cope with or manage a *problem* dog…I think that’s why so many end up at Animal Control facilities! But it’s these very average folk who often CREATE the problem dog in the first place!
    I understand cherry picking the best and most adoptable. I see why rescues were lined up to *save* the puppy mill King Charles Spaniels! I saw those dollar signs floating in their rescue plans.
    But nobody is going to make money spending two weeks or two years rehabbing a pitty with fear or food aggression issues. Should these animals die because they are not cost effective?!
    I rescue sled dogs. They don’t always make easy pets. They are often created for work, and if they are not worked, they can be a problem pet. There are those who create for fun, and then throw away the ones that are less adept at working…even though these very dogs are often the ones that would make the best pets!
    I believe there is a person for every pet. We just don’t do a very good job of sharing appropriately, and we need to take LIFELONG responsibility for every life we help create.
    Sorry, I’m rambling. But I really appreciate being able to read and discuss this stuff. It’s nice to know that others care and are working towards improvements.

    1. You know Lynn, that IS a very GOOD question. Personally, and I may be living in my own little world here, I don’t believe in the either/or arguments. The lesser of two evils is still evil. I like to change the questions or the way they are framed, so that nobody loses or, if you like, the evil is expunged. Unfortunately not many people can do this (I am not even sure why or how I can do it!?!?!). But lookey here: we don’t do this with humans (ok, with politicians, but are they REALLY human? lol), we help them overcome, we do everything we can to make their experience of life better. Yes, we lock up the ones who are certifiable and perhaps that is the only option in either case. But I always look for a different way to phrase these questions, so that everybody lives.

      1. Yes Morgana, I hear and agree. However, by definition then, ANY shelter worker or volunteer who participates in any fashion at a facility that kills animals is therefore evil. And THAT is where we really disconnect, is it not?!
        Because some of them are trying. Some of them are fudging the numbers to save their jobs. Some of them are doing the CYA dance. Some of them are working hard to save lives and improve the system. But, bottom line: if they kill *needlessly* they are evil!?!
        Local Animal Control kills for free at the owner’s request. They try really hard to save the dogs that are relinquished, but if the owner comes in and asks that their young healthy pet be killed, they will do it. It will show up on their records as owner requested and they won’t be to blame.
        I wonder sometimes if they actually talk with relinquishers to try and get them to request death instead of adoption.
        Locally they now kill for health and behavior way more often than they kill for space. Again, it’s a way to fudge the numbers in their favor so they don’t look so bad.
        Dunno, I just get so tired of fighting. Can’t we all just get along and help the animals? But, well, I guess the answer is no because HSUS and the other big groups make money by promoting judgment and death.

      2. Lynn: Let’s qualify these terms: yes, the lesser of two evils is still evil, but I am not talking about the biblical evil. Can we get past that? We disconnect as you put it, less than you think. Lat’s say BAD CHOICE instead of EVIL. Two bad choices are still bad choices – somebody loses. See? I try to re-frame it so that someone – or everyone in the case of animal rescue – can win once in a while.

      3. I know we are on a tangent, but it is a good one.

        I understand that life is precious in all forms. I believe that municipal working with Humane Societies and rescues that specialize is essential, but there are the dogs that don’t fall into any of the categories mentioned….I for one will keep searching and even have a “Good Citizens Program” for the scared dogs that are still at risk but come around, but once again I digress. You see I have had to work my way up through the bureaucracy , cut through the red tape and go to bat for many a dog you mention like Beverly. I do like to be the devil’s advocate though to show what even Progressive Shelter Director’s face daily before the progress starts.

        I remember when rescues were the enemy to the director I worked for a long time ago, I said I would make things different, and I am.

        On the stats, that is disheartening the numbers game that is played. I list the live release rate and the adoption rate, more as an indicator to all of the issues still faced and the deficits that animal control is working to change. I do not blame the public, I love the public and work with compassion towards humans and animals.

        Once again stats are important, but only a tool. Adoption rates make it seem as though certain pets never existed and that irks me, even our court ordered vicious dogs are treated with compassion and respect in our care.

        Yes I am ranting, thanks for allowing a shelter director to speak here without slamming me,,,well not too bad. lol I might be an asset here if you’re open.

    1. She isn’t on their pet harbor page anymore so unless someone pulled her she is dead now.


  8. I too, had to kill a couple of dogs here some years ago, as they led the pack in killing an elderly beagle. I cannot allow that here, although fight break out now and then, the litmus is for what reason, how much damage and likelihood of recurrence. I also totally embrace the NoKillEquation.

    1. In my 20 years in the field owners will lie on behalf of their dog not the other way around….very few people will ask you to euthanize for convenience. Most owners will actually surrender their dying animal even if it is suffering because they just can’t make the decision themselves, we make sure they understand that we will euthanize their suffering animal.

      Isn’t that one of those myths created by bad shelters to blame the public,,,,I believe this is more myth than fact.

      1. One person I personally know who lied when surrendering a pet to the shelter for euthanasia did so because of finances. The owner was either unable or unwilling to spend money on a pet she let roam unattended who got hit by a car. Upon surrender, the owner told the shelter that the pet had been taken to the vet and the vet said the pet was medically hopeless. I have no idea if the shelter had a vet to consult with before euthanasia because who knows if the pet maybe had only a broken leg or what the truth was.

  9. Wow, a lot of good discussion going on here! I enjoyed reading it all and seeing how different people think. I hope that this kind of discussion will happen more often here. Also it is nice to see a shelter director here that is so open and caring.

  10. Morgana, I like BAD CHOICE way better than evil! Thanks. My daddy used to point out that two wrongs don’t make a right. And two bad choices certainly don’t cancel each other out either!
    Using this new frame of reference…It might be a bad choice to send Beverly out to a greenhorn home that has never owned a pit before. But I personally think doing that would be a WAY better choice than killing her today (or tomorrow, or the day after.) My sick and twisted security mantra in this fabulous world of rescue has always been: *we can always kill them tomorrow if we need to* It’s sorta a glass-half-empty version of the Alanon creed: *Just for Today!*
    Dogedog, I agree that very few owners will lie about the need to have their dog killed. But it also irks me no end when *shelters* take the animal without saying a word, and move them directly to the kill room after they’ve gotten the legal signature proving they’ve been relinquished and the *shelter* then has the right to kill without question.
    In that case, it is the *shelter* that is lying! And the public loves it because they go home thinking about Sparky in a new loving home…when the truth is that Sparky is neurotic, afraid of strangers, not housetrained, or list your set of typical criteria here…
    I’m not saying Sparky can’t be saved. But I am saying that most Animal Control facilities really don’t want Sparky going back out the door because they’ll likely have more noise complaints, more bite paperwork to file, and continuing *issues* unless they find a miracle worker to foster Sparky or a dream adopter. (There are some…Morgana and I are not the only ones who choose the hard cases!)
    I once had a dog musher friend say to me: “No, don’t take that dog, we want you to have a really good dog.” (Hint: these are the perfect words to make me snatch the dog and run!)
    I still regret that another musher friend of mine had two white(ish) sled dog pups. (I had tried to limit myself by only accepting white dogs…another rather failed policy, oh well.) But he said: “Wait, let me keep them for a while.” Six months later, he presented me with a single young dog. When I asked about her brother he said: “He wasn’t very good.” AKA he’d killed the brother as he considered the dog’s life to be not worth living, or perhaps my time not worth investing in the second dog. I HATE it when other people make these sorts of choice “for my own good!”
    The sister has been adopted once, and came back. She runs lead, but she has temperament and work ethic issues. She won’t be a winning sled dog. She doesn’t have enough coat to be a comfortable outside dog. But unlike her brother, she’s not dead. I hope and pray that this is better?!? How much quality of life is required for a dog to be happy? Not much. Could she be happier? Certainly. Perhaps I shall submit her as a Shelter Pet of the Day. She’s got it as good as she’s going to get it here from me. I’d LOVE to pass her on to somebody who could do better!

    1. When we go through the surrender to us, we thoroughly go through the fact that we cannot guarantee adoption. I think these surrenders are where we show immense compassion and professionalism. We are very clear about euthanasia, most owners tell us they understand, but do not want to hear it, they understand what will be done, but just can’t hear the words and then sign. They do however listen when we discuss the health issue they cannot manage, and if we have other options (which while I don’t the community of great rescues do), we offer to take the time to make the calls to give the animal every chance if their is something that can be done. The flip side is that even the coldest person at the counter should not be judged, often we do not get to see the struggle they suffered making that difficult decision prior to gearing up to stand in front of us and ask for this service or surrender.

      We also have a vet community that if a life saving procedure can be done (even an organ transplant or other things that are so cost prohibitive I doubt many if any could do), the vet will refuse to euthanize and send the owner away guilty and the pet suffering, they come running to us guilt ridden and desperate. I love our vets, but this stance isn’t the high road at all, and no I am not a vet, but this doesn’t sit well in my gut. Since I see more than my share of suffering, I don’t know how you can turn your back on those suffering. (that is unacceptable !!)

      I agree that the information of what is going to happen is important even if the owner surrendering does not want to hear it, it needs to be said and delivered with compassion.

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