Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another interesting comment on my post "More Dead Celtic Pet Dog(s) at Dartmouth SPCA Shelter"

So today I had another interesting comment left on my post "More Dead Celtic Pet Dog(s) at Dartmouth SPCA Shelter" that I wanted to talk about because I think it raises some good ideas that I want to talk about:

I think there are good and very committed homes out there BUT they are few and far between (I am speaking to after the novelty wears off the new adoptee).

There are mostly the average homes who THINK they could handle a dog with these issues, get all excited by the hype about them and then can't or won't do what is necessary to protect the dog and the public. You must remember that if one shelter dog bites a whole "shitstorm" can occur that can end up giving the adopting shelter a bad name with the public (they adopt out aggressive dogs) and will cause other dogs with few issues to languish and perhaps die.

What some animal lovers forget is that while we are there to help animals, we are also there to serve the public. If a consensus of people who have been observing these animals have deemed them to be aggressive to the point of unadoptable, then who are we (who have maybe seen the dogs once) to judge them? It is not fair to ask shelters to take on dogs with bite history while applauding so called no-kills & rescues who will mostly refuse to take them in, or turn other happy, adoptable dogs away to warehouse one that is aggressive, while it waits for the "perfect" home.

I don't know why so many people want to label this issue in black and white. It is far from that.

Out of Province Observer.

This would seem to be a person who works or volunteers at a shelter like the previous commenter that I made observations about their comment because they say "what some animal lovers forget is that while WE are there to help animals, WE are also there to serve the public.

That is SO interesting I think - and that raises HUGE red flags for me.

There is a document that when I first read it - it really blew my mind - it was like it was articulating what I had been feeling ever since I first started to learn about what goes on in "shelters", in places that were supposed to be "preventing cruelty to animals". It is a document called "In the name of Mercy" - and it's a piece that basically started the no kill movement. It talks about how it is WRONG that shelters KILL the animals they are supposed to be saving. That it is a very lazy way to do business and that it should be STOPPED. It is a beautiful thing to read and I think it SHOULD be read by anyone even considering volunteering or working at a shelter. The link I provided is a direct link to the document. You should click on it, if you dare. I know it changed my life forever. I still remember where I was when I read it.

There's another thing about the sentence -

What some animal lovers forget is that while we are there to help animals, we are also there to serve the public.

I don't buy that.

I think that an animal shelter is NOT there to serve the public. A PET STORE is there to serve the public. A back yard breeder is there to serve the public. A puppy mill is there to serve the public. A shelter is there to serve the homeless and abandoned animals. They are NOT there to serve the public. The shelter is there to save the animals. Period. They are there to shelter the animals. Period. If the animals were not there - the shelter would not be there.

And the shelter should also be working towards making the cages empty as well - so that there are no more homeless and abandoned animals - but that's another whole thing that I won't talk about here.

So the person who left this comment and who works or volunteers at a shelter may think they have answers to this problem - but I believe they do not have the correct answers. Their answers are very wrong - for the animals.

I hope they come back and read this post and read what I've said about their comment and read the document I've provided the link to - and think about it for a little while and think about the truth of it.

The public is still very important - and the public deserves to be treated with respect and kindness and not treated like criminals and gruffness like it has been my experience that they are treated a lot of the time - adoptions should be made like true love - there is a perfect match out there for everyone - and that's why Petfinder is such a great thing - and liaising with SPCA's and shelters province wide SHOULD BE DONE and started - and would be a wonderful thing. There should be a railroad started up. There is absolutely no reason why 75% of dogs in Cape Breton die when tons of people in Halifax buy puppies at Pets Unlimited when they'd love to rescue a dog instead. It's a travesty. And unnecessary.

But the public is NOT the reason why shelters exist - and animals should NOT die because they are not 100% perfect. There are a lot of people who are willing to take less than perfect dogs. SPCA's are not pet stores - and the day people who work there start believing things like that - they should shut their doors and hang their heads IN SHAME.


  1. Anonymous8:54 PM

    Thank you for your comment. I do understand the other side of the coin and in no way do I think I know the answers. Which is why I made the comment that there is no black and white in this issue (to me at least).

    I would love to save them all. Who wouldn't? Believe me I was one of those save them all people when I started. I've had my own breakdowns, been paralyzed with grief and worry, stayed awake nights and came to the realization that I could either stop doing it and all of them could die or focus on the ones that I could help. That is not to say that I don't focus on those that I can't help. I do everything possible (within the boundaries of keeping my sanity) and sometimes miracles happen, but sometimes they don't, and at the end of the day I've got to sleep at night knowing the dogs I've put out there are not a danger to the PUBLIC. If not the end result may still be a dead dog, and a scarred (or worse) child, person etc.

    I do disagree with your comment about that we should be there "just for the animals". Our group focuses on the public as much as the animals, there is no point moving them into homes if they are not educated and permanent (best case scenario) We do focus on the public for the reasons you stated, people are tired of being treated like criminals for the offense of coming into a shelter to look for a pet. We take seminars on dealing with the PUBLIC. THEY are the ones supporting these animals with their donations, not the government. So in my mind it can't just be about the animals, it's about humane treatment of people, animals, education, support, spay/neuter assistance and so much more.

  2. yes, did you go and read the document? Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but what you're saying sounds like a list of excuses. Not every animal can be saved - but Sue Sternberg said that if you've got 15 cages and 20 dogs she's got the tools to get you out of your spot.

  3. Anonymous11:50 PM

    Yes, I've read several articles similiar to the one you have posted. I am familiar with Sue Sternberg and have gone to one of her seminars. She evaluated a few dogs right then and there (from a local shelter) and she was much harsher than I would have been and basically stated that she would not offer for adoption at her shelter an aloof rottie mix that came out on the floor who she could not get to focus on her. Almost every unneutered male dog we get in seemed pretty similar to this one to me. Unfocused, no training, exciteable, you name it. If you google you will find many similar stories as the one's below.

    I worked at a local humane society here in Colorado. … I attended Sue Sternberg’s seminar last year. I found her temperament test…educational to see a dog’s strengths and weaknesses. Yet I found her to be a very disturb sick woman. Some of the dogs (all from the shelter) that she evaluated and failed were happy-go-lucky dogs that just failed one part of the temp. test. I found her to be a woman that is very afraid of certain breeds (small and large). It appalls me that this woman goes around the country doing seminars.

    ~Lisa in Colorado
    Two years ago…a Sue Sternberg clinic was presented at a well attended conference. Sadly, I think many in attendance saw this as a way to soothe the horrid guilt that goes with the killing done every day. Others who inquired about the “what ifs” - with logical and well thought out questions were put off by Sternberg. She had dogs brought in that day from local pounds. One dog, a very timid girl, didn’t stand a chance with Sternberg. Later in the day, films were shown of the testing tactics. It was not unlike watching torture. The “testing” went on and on until a negative reaction was seen. The pressure these animals were under was inhumane. None of the dogs I’ve ever shared a home with in my lifetime would “pass.” … I see two elements here: the all-knowing Sternberg needs to be called for what she is: a greedy power-monger; and the public needs to know the real cost of “no-kill.”
    ~Marie in New Jersey

    I have been to one of Sue Sternberg’s seminars. She would have euth’d 4 out of the 5 dogs she used as demos…. Sue even said that her own 5 dogs would never have passed the test, that most of the dogs over 35 lbs. in the NE need to be euthanized, and she very much stressed that adoptions were a business, and what we wanted here was to boost our business….
    ~Mindy in New York

    Respectfully, I think it would be more irresponsible for me to make excuses for aggressive dogs than the excuses you feel that I am making.

    I think the goal of most shelters is to be no kill, but I can't help thinking that a save-everything mentality may have been the start of the McIsaac's mental illness and look at the death and suffering that it brought. I've heard people say they were in it for the money, but what mentally healthy person would want to live in squalor with feces and dead bodies?

    Once again, I'm not saying that every effort should not be made for each dog as an individual, but sometimes, there is just not going to be a happy ending.

  4. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Anonymous you stated "dead bodies" can you tell me exactly how many dead BODIES you know for a fact were there????????????? Do you even know 100% the entire "three sides" to the story (ie: yours, mine and the truth?) With media hype and preferential editing/reporting, plus the fact that nothing has been proven in a court of law, you may want to chose your words carefully! One side is ALL that has been illegally thrown out there.

  5. Anonymous12:08 PM

    You are right anonymous, I don't know I wasn't there and you are right, it is now at the point where the courts will decide what is factual.

    I'll leave this discussion now, but I do check Joan's blog often as I find it informative and since I do love animals, I wish to keep my mind open to new ideas and opinions that may help more of them find homes. In the meantime I've got a crew here who is impatiently drooling on the keyboard in anticipation of a summer swim.

    Thanks for the conversation.

  6. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Thank you Anonymous - I appreciate your response.

  7. Anonymous7:36 PM

    Question for ya- do the courts/Animal Control recognize the circumstances in which a dog bites when deciding whether or not an animal should be declared dangerous? For example, would they recognize the difference between a dog with a bite history in a shelter setting, versus a dog with a bite history who is aggressive for reasons beyond kennel stress?