Working with shelters and rescues I hear complaints from both sides of the aisle. One argument that intrigues me is the complaint about stray dogs. It seems some in rescue are so eager to criticize animal control for not dealing with the stray dog dilemma, and it is just that… a dilemma.
If animal control focuses their efforts and time returning to the old “dog catcher days,” people will have a fit, especially those in animal rights and rescue. Although this is a primary responsibility of the animal control agencies, it can’t be dealt with all too easily. Most dogs that are picked up obviously belong to someone and we would want to make sure that they are safe when the person comes looking for them. The big issue with this concept is, “Where do we put these dogs?” The shelters are already full, so adding additional dogs to the kennels would force the departments to have to kill dogs currently in their care. Remember, it’s a space issue. There are only so many kennels in each shelter, most shelters will double and triple the dogs in their kennels to avoid having to kill for space. So are we pointing fingers at the right perpetrator? I say, NO.
As is often the case, we make excuses for stupidity and this stupidity gets animals killed. If every time we see a stray dog we expect animal control to run out and pick up that pet and bring it back to the shelter, we should figure out a way to pay for the extra staff and the extra space so we don’t kill the innocent dogs currently under their control. If I had my way I would have animal control focus on the pets in their care and if a dog happens to be loose, I would hope for a concerned citizen to help out. Picking up a loose dog and checking a collar or taking the dog to a vet to scan a microchip isn’t that much work. I’ve done it and so have a lot of people that I know. Stray dogs are oftentimes dogs that just got out and need to be returned to their homes. If a dog is consistently running around it might not be a bad idea to community police the dog’s owner and explain to them the dangers and issues associated with this. Why do we always have to pass the blame? The blame for loose dogs is the fault of stupid and negligent dog owners. Not all, but most of the time this is a stupid mistake. We have people right here in my neighborhood who constantly leave their dogs outside and the dog wanders; that’s what dogs do. These are often so called “dog lovers” who feel dogs should be allowed to be dogs. That is one of the most idiotic statements that pisses me off every time I hear it. Be dogs? How does a dog just “be a dog?” By giving them freedom to run around, not train them and give them no structure. Are these people aware that dogs are a human creation? That we mutated the original dog from the wolf and by letting a dog be a dog we are undoing what the dog was bred to be. Probably not.
I’ve heard the complaint from rescues that criticize shelters for not doing anything about their overcrowding…. And now we want them to add more to the lot. Look at those who advocate for feral cat colonies, TNR, etc.; they don’t want the cats picked up, they want them released back. And yes, dogs may often pose more of a danger on society than cats, but not always. There’s no easy answer here, but simply blaming or criticizing managers, directors or employees of shelters certainly is not the answer, do something. Get off of your ass and do something constructive. And, most importantly blame the people who are to blame, not those that are trying to do something about it.