There is this constant battle between rescues and shelters that does little more than cost innocent animals their lives. I am referring mainly to the rescue groups that “rescue” pets from the shelter whose greatest risk at the shelter is adoption.
Let’s face it, there are certain breeds of dogs at the shelter that have little to no chance of getting a good forever home – the top of that list is the Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes. This is a breed that is so rampant in shelters that they account for more than 1/2 of the dogs in the shelter, yet account for less than 5% of the dog population. But since this post is not about the Pit Bulls Dilemma ( I will write about that soon), I will focus on the topic addressed here.
The simple thing to look at in shelters is who is being killed and why? Dogs that break down quickly, dogs that have human and dog reactivity issues, sick dogs, young puppies and old dogs are always on the short list to be killed at the shelter. I don’t believe the shelter is failing by making the choice to kill these dogs over other dogs; it would be worse if shelters hung onto these dogs and killed healthy adoptable pets with no issues. However, the dilemma remains that in order to work together, rescues must step outside of their comfort zones and help shelters save more lives. How do we achieve this? Rescues should, whenever possible pull dogs that are not doing well at shelters, dogs that need some training, dogs that need socialization and dogs that need basic medical care. YES, there are rescues out there doing this, and I applaud them and work with them regularly. I’m not saying that dogs that are so aggressive that they pose a liability or danger should be at the top of their list, but these dogs are the smallest percentage of dogs at the shelter. Most dogs just need some good basic structure training and dog to dog introductions. This is where “rescues” need to rescue.
Shelters don’t have the time nor the resources to train or socialize dogs. Shelters need foot traffic in order to increase adoptions. A shelter filled with pit bull mixes, old dogs and sick dogs will not attract any public traffic. On the other hand stacking a shelter like an adoption super center will bring people back and keep them coming back. I’ve written about this in both of my books: Selling Used Dogs and Desperate Dogs Determined Measures. Rescues can work with dogs, garner public support and donations and not run their rescues like a “for profit” business. For those that have never seen this, I invite you to research some less than reputable rescues that cherry pick the shelters and then plop themselves in front of Petco “selling” their dogs for a $400-$500 adoption fee. Sorry, I find this wrong. Rescues should work together with shelter and the shelter should work with the rescues.
How can the shelter work better with rescues? Some simple things; Shelters can provide behavior assessment reports, provide low cost adoption fees to rescues, have a dedicated person for rescues to work with, give rescues a definite “due out date” on dogs and work with them on logistics as well as form a cohesive relationship.
This is obviously a two-way street. It’s a highly emotional field and one that is littered with accusations of “he said – she said.” I invite everyone to put aside their egos and work together for the greater good. Don’t expect more than you could provide and show courtesy and respect even when things don’t work out well.