Friday, September 11, 2009

Consequences of Irresponsible and Selfish Choices (Guest Editorial)

(Picture Left: "Dash" -- young, active, loving Boder Collie who now is victim of poor human choices and lack of acceptance of personal responsibility.)

Shellie Writes: Wednesday's post, "Unrescuing Rescue", really struck a chord with me.

The past three weeks at the shelter wher I volunteer have been a series of one failed adoption after another. There have been so many "returns-to-shelter" you would think it was the day after Christmas at Wal-Mart.

"Dash", a 10-month-old Border Collie mix (pictured) was initially adopted 6 months ago as a puppy, and has now been returned to us twice.

Three weeks ago, at opening time, an elderly woman came in walking (or being dragged by) this gorgeous dog. Once in the door, she stated, "You have to take this dog back. He's just too much for me. I'm 83, and he's just too strong for me".

When she was told that we have a waiting list for owner surrenders, she then threatened to "just turn him loose on the road". When informed that this was illegal; and that if the dog were found loose, she would be charged with abandonment, she then stated, "Then just take him and put him to sleep; I just can't handle him anymore".

So Dash was taken in and placed for adoption once more. (Incidentally, the woman's adoption application included notes from the staff that she was counselled regarding the high energy level of the breed and questioned her ability to care for the dog. It also indicated that she had had Collies for 20 years, and her previous dog had recently died; and that she assured them she could manage a high energy breed.)

Then after 10 days in the shelter, Dash was again adopted; only to be returned after one week in a home. This time the reason for his return was "nipping at the childrens' legs". On reviewing the adoption application, it again documented the counseling, specifically the possibility of "herding behavior" with children. Once again, the family assured the shelter that they were very dog-experienced and could manage this behavior.

So now we have a friendly, housebroken, intelligent dog in a cage for the simple reason that he is a dog; just doing what dogs of his breed have been doing for centuries. Now Dash is waiting hopes that somewhere there is an adult home that will provide him with the stimulation and exercise he needs. Because I am afraid that the next time will be "Strike Three----You're Out!!"


Reply: Thank you for taking the time to share with us this all too common problem of many people making selfish and ignorant choices when acquiring animals and then simply looking to "dump" the pets later without acceptance of any personal responsibility for why the adoption "didn't work."

Certainly, this is one of my biggest frustrations in the placement of animals. From senior citizens demanding puppies or adolescent pets (your story being an excellent example of this) to those with cats at home seeking Pitbulls or other breed types noted not to be genereally good with cats, to those with small kids seeking small dogs who are generally nervous around children, to those working long hours and demanding a young "Lab mix" or other active breed, yes it is all indeed a kind of nightmare that results in millions of animals being abandoned and ultimately killed annually.

If people only listened to the advice we try to give them based upon years of experience in learning which adoptions work and which adoptions don't then there would be more successful placements.

But, when its a matter of "I want what I want when I want it and no one can advise me differently" then yes, the animal is inevitably returned and all too often ends up dying for the errors of his/her human "former owners."

What a sad and really inexcusable pity -- all of it. -- PCA


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