In light of some recent controversy, I felt the need to speak out on an issue:
In rescue, there comes a time when you have to say “enough”. Not every dog can be saved. Sometimes the only humane thing to do is say “good-bye” and send the dog on its way to the Bridge.
People are so understanding when the dog is sick and has no quality of life. The rescuer gets hugs and support. They are told that they are making the right decision. But, what if the dog isn’t physically ill? What if there is a temperament issue? What if the dog has attacked someone? What if the behavior has progressively gotten worse? Not just one random bite because you tried to take food from a resource guarder, but an unprovoked attack.
That’s where lines are drawn. People start demanding that the dog get another chance. They criticize the rescuer for rushing to judgement. They accuse them of not caring enough!
Not caring? Seriously? Rescuers devote time, energy and their hearts to the animals they save. They love each of them as if they were their own. They spend money that they don’t have to rehabilitate, transfer, feed, and house these dogs! To say that they don’t care is insane!!
A dog that attacks someone is dangerous…plain and simple! And, if the dog is a bully breed, you run into all kinds of issues (why do you think there is BSL?). Is it possible to rehabilitate a dog with a bite history? Sure. But, dogs are animals and, as such, are unpredictable. Conditions would need to be perfect in order to ensure that the behavior doesn’t return. And, we all know that there is no such thing as perfect!
Do the people that condemn the rescuer for making this decision want the dog in their home? With their family? Do they want the dog in their neighborhood? The answer, most often, is no. Of course they don’t…they don’t want the risk!
When a rescuer decides that a dog must be euthanized, know that they didn’t “give up” on the dog. Understand that a piece of them dies with the dog. Respect the decision and support the person that made it. They didn’t come to it lightly. In fact, they will probably continue to debate it in their mind long after the dog is gone.
And, remember that the rescuer is responsible for the dog, even after it has been adopted. It all comes back to them! Even if they have disclosed all information about the dog and its history (and, they don’t always get the truth from the previous owners) they can still be held accountable. All it takes is one bad outcome to shut down a rescue and then how many other dogs suffer?