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Animal Rescue Shelter Adoption Pros and Cons

A Chihuahua Defending His BoneHi John,

I need you to get onto animal rescue shelters and the mistakes THEY make with far too many adoptions. So many are horrible judges of dog’s temperaments or maybe they just want to save and adopt out at any cost and the heck with temperament testing.

I board dogs, do some behaviour consults and do some rescue myself. I am seeing a few too many dogs that have come from rescues that could have and should have been identified as too unstable to sell to an unsuspecting person/family. Recently after nearly a week’s stay a dog I’d been looking after from one of these “rescues” attacked me. It turns out he’d been adopted and returned 5 TIMES and they did not put him down.

I am tired of stupid people running rescues. They love dogs beyond reason but don’t’ understand them at all.


Dear S.S.

One of my pet peeves are the rescues that claim to be “no-kill”. Those in what I call the reality dog rescue world know there is not yet any such thing as “no-kill”. Just because a group claims they’re not killing dogs doesn’t mean the same amount of dogs aren’t dying. As long as we in North America have problems with overpopulation, bad breeding and “no consequence” dog training, any claim to be a “no-kill” rescue is nothing more then a “knights in shining armor” marketing ploy. The truth is though that wherever you find a “no-kill” you will within miles find a reality rescue forced to pick up the slack.

Reality rescues are not bloodthirsty. They also share the “no-kill” rescue’s distaste for euthanizing unstable dogs and agree that euthanizing perfectly good dogs due to over population is abhorrent. They’re often made out as the bad guys because they face the detestable reality but the people that work and/or volunteer in reality rescues are the honest real knights in shining armor and most deserving of the public’s donation support and as the place to go for finding the next family pet.

Specific rescue philosophies aside, far too many rescues in general have people that as you say, “love dogs beyond reason but don’t’ understand them at all.” Many rescues are entirely run by volunteers. If they are properly funded and the funds are used wisely that’s not a problem. However, when it comes to some animal rescue groups and “wise” I have to concur with you that sometimes we end up with an oxymoron.

Rescues that aren’t budgeting for education are short changing themselves, the public, people that donate to them and ultimately the dogs. I think you’ll find the rescues you speak of aren’t making that investment.

I offer a series of workshops for rescues that help them understand specific facets of behaviour intended to positively impact the number and quality of the placements they make, but I also attend workshops all over North America. Why? Because even after 20 years, I continue to learn things that make me better at what I do, so I can help others be better at what they do.

I’m not saying loving dogs is unimportant but it’s an emotion that most can lay claim to without lifting a finger. Anyone truly committed to rescuing dogs is going to actually have to spend some time and money if they want to take it to the next level. I guarantee they will find that it will be for them as it has been for me; an investment paying incredible dividends through the knowledge I’ve been able to share with others and dogs’ lives changed.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

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