There was a recent online article condemning temperament tests for dogs at animal shelter. The link to the article is here:
My response is below:
While I agree with the notion that bad temperament tests are deadly to dogs, I disagree with those that say “there in no place for temperament testing in our shelter system.” There are plenty of things that, when done wrong, are dangerous and even deadly to animals at risk in our nations shelters; namely surgeries and over-vaccination. What we need to focus on is fair temperament testing and not throwing the baby out with the bath water.
I have seen the temperament test which various municipalities use and to say that they are anything less than substandard is an understatement. There is a great benefit to performing adequate temperament tests on shelter animals as it helps with placing them into permanent homes and gives a potential adopter the insight needed to consider a pet. For example a person would be reluctant to adopt a large breed dog i.e. a pit bull thinking it may be dangerous to family members. Instead this family may opt for a smaller Chihuahua that may prove more aggressive than a pit bull. Furthermore, those animals that are deemed as “behaviorally challenged” should be (and in most shelters are) available to rescues. It is these animals that need a rescue to step up for them and help them. If there is ever a need for a rescue it is to save sick, behaviorally challenged and un-adoptable animals from the shelters and work to get them into homes. Oftentimes rescues simply take animals from shelters that are at risk of nothing more than adoption.
If temperament tests were so negative, inconclusive and unnecessary, I wonder why so many times the question in rescue emails and threads is “how is this dog with other dogs, how about cats? Is he good with children? Does he have any issues?” Understandably untrained shelter staff is not suited to testing these animals, but currently the ones testing these animals are people who have absolutely no skill in the matter.
I’ve done hundreds of temperament tests on dogs at municipal shelters using a structurally solid 30 temperament test guide that Bound Angels has available on www.boundangels.org . Any dog that has had issues was noted as such and placed for adoption or placement into training to help with their issues. Of these all were adopted because of their temperament test, not the opposite.
Again, we should focus on making fair temperament tests available and seeing to it that those who give the tests are qualified to do so. Discrediting the idea of temperament testing by shelters gives people just another reason not to go to a shelter to adopt a pet in need, and this is the classic example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.