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Behavior

Adopting Out Aggressive Dogs
February 17, 2016 (published)

Dog in kennel Bigstock

I recently visited with a physician friend. He had just come from the hospital after sewing up the face of a 3-year old boy who was mauled by a dog. While I do not know the particulars of this case, it brought to mind my own work with some shelters and their desire to save every single dog and cat, regardless of their aggression towards people, regardless of the animal’s physical and mental health.

What I really want to know is when did the safety of those adopting animals become less important than an aggressive pet? Why is finding a home for every animal, regardless of their temperament the most important thing? Some people assume that being alive equals quality of life. It's clear to me, as a veterinarian and dog-lover, that not only is this equation incorrect, but it also causes fear and anger to spread like a virus, amongst people and pets alike.

What to look for to protect yourself

How do you protect yourself, at least a little, from selecting an aggressive dog and all the heartache associated with it? While you may have a home with no children (or men or women), remember that you need to keep passersby safe, as well as neighbors, delivery people, and your visitors. You do not want to hear that the wind blew open your gate and your new dog mauled the little old lady next door while she was getting her newspaper, or chased a bike-riding child down the road.

There are some key phrases I look for when I am reading about an animal available for adoption. All of these phrases mean the same thing to me: “Please take this dog, even though we know he is dangerous."

  1. Not good with kids.
  2. Needs to be in a home with only women (or men)
  3. Needs some training.
  4. Needs to live with an experienced dog owner.
  5. Needs a quiet home.
  6. Needs to live on a large farm.

It is your job to ask key questions. After all, you expect to adopt a dog or cat that is not going to cause you or your family members harm, either physically and emotionally. You expect to adopt a animal that gives you joy, does not leave you living in fear in your own home.

  1. How many homes has this dog been in?
  2. Why was this animal relinquished?
  3. Has this animal bitten anyone?
  4. Is this a pet you would adopt out to someone in your family? Why or why not?
  5. Ask to talk to the prior owners.
  6. Ask to talk to the prior veterinarian.
  7. Ask around to see if the shelter/rescue has a history of adopting out aggressive animals. Ask your vet, ask your neighbor, ask the local animal control officer.
  8. Ask to see how the dog acts around men/women/kids, without the handler, although the way they act at the shelter may not be how they act at your home.

Take the time to do your homework so you don’t literally get bitten in the seat of the pants!

Back when I was still in clinical practice, I did a lot of free work for the local shelter, run by a group of well-meaning individuals. They worked with limited funds and it was staffed with mostly volunteer workers.

While we enjoyed a good relationship for most of my practice life, it fell apart over one aggressive dog. I visited this dog in the shelter to give him his vaccinations. As I reached down and touched him, he lunged at my face. As I jerked up and back, my employee pulled back on the leash and he came away with several mouthfuls of coat. And I do mean several mouthfuls: he did not just snap once, he bit continuously until he could no longer reach me. Through winter clothes, he left bruises on my breast. Sadly, the shelter workers insisted that this dog could still be safely homed; they just had to be careful about who they adopted him out to. It took several weeks and lawyers got involved, but I finally euthanized the dog. Even as I euthanized the dog, the shelter staff again told me they thought they could have found someone to take him. They just needed the ‘right’ home. I have to admit, I always wondered if ‘the right home’ was someone they did not like since they would be putting those people and their family in harm’s way. My relationship with that shelter was never the same and I never did do any dog work for them again. They only brought me cats and then, only those that were friendly.

To this day, I cannot imagine why this has been allowed to happen and continues to happen in shelters and rescues all over the world. And it happens often: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 (the last year for which statistics are available), there were 342,021 people with non-fatal dog bites treated at the emergency room. That's in addition to the 32 people who died that year from dog bites. From 2001 through 2013, the total number of people treated for dog bites is a mind-numbing 4.3 million.

That's millions of snapping teeth, terrified dogs, and damaged people (both physically and mentally).

Some shelters and rescues don't even conduct due diligence. They adopt out stray animals within a few days of being found, without behavioral evaluations, vaccinations, or altering. An egregious example was seen last November when a Tennessee man was killed by a dog three hours after he'd adopted it from a shelter. The man's wife and neighbor came in to what looked like the bloodiest of crime scenes, and the dog bit them. They ran outside, the dog followed. The dog was killed by police, and sent off to be tested for rabies. The dog was sent for rabies testing because his behavior was so crazy. I don't know how this case is turning out because the county's health department isn't allowed to comment on it.

In another case, an animal behavior specialist who temperament tested a dog told the shelter that the dog, who had been returned twice for aggression, should not be adopted; and when he was adopted out, he bit a child in the face three days later. The family sued the shelter (what a surprise):

"I advised that he would not be a suitable candidate for adoption," the specialist said. "The director told me they would look for a suitable placement, and I very specifically stated he could in no way ever be adopted to a family with children or men."

I can just see the lawsuit: "We think this dog’s life is more important than people's safety, your honor. He's just letting us know that he's not in the right home yet. We'll keep trying. The families can pay for their medical treatment because we can't afford it. I am sure the boy can get enough psychiatric care to get him past this fear of dogs."

This lack of evaluation is not limited to shelters. Many rescues operate under the delusion that every animal deserves to be placed in a home, no matter what his behavior is like. Some well-meaning zealots think that any aggressive pet should be adopted out and have a chance. They are thinking of the animal and their placement success rate, not of people who would be afraid of an aggressive animal. Since when is it okay to live with an animal you're afraid of?

The other side of this coin is that every time an aggressive dog or cat is accepted into a rescue or a shelter, they take up space and resources - medical, financial - that can be used for more than one even-tempered pet that needs assistance. In general, finding a home for an aggressive animal takes more than twice the time of an animal who is even-tempered. How many adoptable, even-tempered pets are euthanized because there is no space or funds for them? Why is so much attention given to pets that cannot be safely adopted?  Any pet whose aggression is increasing is an unhappy, fearful pet. His quality of life is circling the drain. Being alive is not what matters most; it's the quality of that life.

It is up to you to look carefully and ask questions; realize that the ads with all of the cute pictures are there to tug at your heartstrings, not engage your logic. Find and use the logical part of your brain.

In addition, it is important to know that there is a honeymoon period for adopted pets when they are on their best behavior. As they become more comfortable in your home, their behavior will change. It's like the difference between the first few dates and two years of marriage: the true temperament appears. Most pets become more relaxed and happy, while a few revert to the nasty behaviors that got them to the shelter in the first place. If this happens, please don’t pass the problem on to someone else; don’t pass on the heart ache or the danger. Deal with it. Get a medical workup and if there are no physical issues, find a veterinary behaviorist. Whatever you do, do NOT look for someone else to place in danger.

22 Comments

Cat
September 14, 2017

Hallelujah!  Finally, some good down to earth advice!! I have had two aggressive lab crosses. Never again! In fact, I will never adopt again from the shelter I got the second dog from. He is a biter and was so under socialized, my family had to introduce him to sprinklers, cable boxes, strange people, etc.. When I tried to return him, the shelter said they could not take him (about a month later) because he was unfit to adopt out!  Yet he was to us...?!  Hmmm! Anyway, I now know to not even consider a dog with any known "antisocial or aggressive tendencies".  I am trying to decide whether or not to euthanize the current lab in question...   Not a nice place to be in...


Teri Ann Oursler, DVM
July 27, 2017

Tiffany, While the situation may not be the dog's fault, that will not matter if someone is seriously hurt or killed.  You have seen what this dog can do, you barely got away and you were terrified while you did it. Please don't put anyone else at risk.  He should not go to another foster family!  The guilt you will feel if someone is seriously injured or killed is horrendous and way more than the guilt of putting this dangerous dog to sleep. He is a repeat offender in the biting department.  He is not a happy dog, and he is not safe.  No one who lives with him will be happy or safe either.


Tiffany
July 27, 2017

I feel so much better after reading this. I took in a foster for a local rescue in January. He had been in the head. Since then He has is completely healed physically, but I believe he has some kind of trauma, brain damage etc from his experience. He has been increasingly aggression with other dogs and now myself. He got adopted in June they brought him back the next day because he attacked thier dog and bit one of the adults. This last weekend he tried to attack a dog at the adoption event! That night be tried to attack me. He lunged at me 3 different times before I could get back in the house.the 4th time he lunged he hit the back door trying to get at me again. I got out of it without being bit luckily but I was terrified. I immediately asked for him to have another foster home and That has not happened. He needs a medicial evaluation butt they have not approved that either. They want a 2nd round of training because "we made a commitment to him to take care of him" I have several concerns: He has already bit someone. He has on numerous occasions attacked other pets. If someone else adopts him they are at risk of getting harmed or thier pets are in jeopardy. Continuing to have him in my foster home is preventing another non aggressive dog from having a foster home. I have been really struggling with what to do with him but at the end of the day is situation is not his fault, my fault or the rescues fault. It is the person who shot him!


K
July 8, 2017

I work in a shelter that No Kill has invaded (New director) I went from being proud of the shelter I work for to being utterly embarrassed of our facilities. No Kill turns shelters into hoarding situations. Then they complain that we kill perfectly healthy, adoptable dogs. The dogs are usually half kenneled (a 4×4 enclosure) for months, until they are adopted or go so kennel crazy that Acepromazine is used, then when that doesn't work, the Coordinator puts it on the list for euthanasia. 9 times out of 10 the dog gets pulled or adopted because of a sob story and the behavior is sugar coated. Or the director flat out denies the euthanasia. They tripled the amount of animals we house, then don't staff accordingly, then complain that we aren't caring for the dogs properly. We lost our ENTIRE medical team due to them not being able to morally or mentally care for these animals. They were afraid of losing their licenses, getting in trouble with the law and couldn't stand the level of care they were able to give with such low staffing. Sick animals are placed in kennels with healthy animals, or healthy incoming animals are placed in kennels with animals that are on meds for illness. Giardia is placed anywhere, even right next door to puppies. They placed ringworm kittens in a non temperature controlled room in the middle of summer. Then used FANS for the cats, in a hot ward, aerating and growing ringworm all over the place as we don't have a place in our shelter for ringworm. We are adopting out aggressive dogs, then they blame the victims or find a scapegoat. The behavior team was told to stop some of the behavior tests. They are pressured to make these dogs available, or face losing their job and that even if they don't do well on the behavior tests, anyone can adopt it if they sign a waiver. They get away with it by signing these waivers. I was blamed for a dog biting a kid. I have no say in who becomes available. The dog in question had a history of unpredictable nature. They were going to adopt the dog to a family with young children. I was foolishly a part of that. I had no idea that an available dog would have that behavior level. I feel disgusted with myself and our facility. Many shelter workers hate it. We need to survive, need our paychecks. It is hard to find a job in animal care that pays decently. I do the job because I pray one day, this No Kill business will be seen for what it is. A dream. A Disney fantasy dream. I stay because I hope the County Supervisors will come to their senses and fire this director, although, the reality of the situation is that I will lose my job as a scapegoat. I have seen it multiple times in the 2 years of this takeover. The workers at the shelter suffer too. Our risk of being mauled has multiplied ten-fold. We actually risk our lives and limb coming to work. My kids could lose their mom. I could lose my ease of mobility. I could hands, fingers (a dog rescue pulled from us bit someones finger off). We hate it too, but we have no options. We have no one to report it to. We are the group that people call to report this type of situation. We used to shut groups down for doing this type of stuff. Our hands are tied.


Lali Espinosa
June 28, 2017

I feel much better after reading this article. My family has always had dogs in the family, since they were puppies. Growing up I learned a lot about puppy mils and buying a puppy from a breeder for a high price never seemed to make sense to me when there were so many puppies and dogs in need at the shelter. My first visit to the shelter, they pushed the idea of adopting a dog instead of a puppy, and it makes sense, they are probably the ones most in need since most people want puppies. We found a small tiny pit mix, who seemed cute enough. We took her out and she started barking aggressively at other dogs, and I knew right away that it was not in play, but because she was wagging her tail (which I know dogs can do when either angry or happy), the volunteer kept saying "but look she's wagging her tail and just wants to play". This right away let me know the volunteer knew either nothing about dogs, or was trying to trick me. I'll go with didn't know anything, because I don't think she was trying to screw anyone over, she was just trying to adopt out the dogs which I understand. They euthanize a lot of dogs. We decided to put a hold on her anyway, because I felt confident I could help her with the dog aggression as long as she wasn't aggressive with me. The second day we went to visit her (we needed to wait 5 days before bringing her home), I walked her around and she bit my arms while I was seated with her, and she was growling while she did it. I looked at the volunteer and she said "she's just hyper", and once again I figured I was being bias and not giving the dog a chance. When we put her back in a cage with another dog, she snapped at the dog and bit her and the volunteer said "she just likes to bully her cagemate sometimes, she's bossy." Again here are signs that I registered, but I had never personally seen a dog like that, and trusted the shelter. I just kept thinking: they wouldn't give me a dangerous dog. The following day I went to visit her, she attacked me. This time there was no excuse of her being "hyper" or "she's just a puppy". She was a two year old stray, and she lunged at me and went for my ankles and then my body, ripping up my shirt. She was medium sized so luckily not super dangerous but I was alarmed. They asked me if I still wanted her, and I said "I don't think so", then they did a quick two second behavior test and saw the same thing I saw and recommended I pick another dog since she would not be good with children. The following days I was really depressed, because this was my only real experience with a shelter, and I blamed myself. Now I blame the shelter for not properly assessing her and examining her tendencies. I know the shelter means well and they are over-packed and busy and don't have the time to see if a dog is aggressive, but now I am afraid of adopting a dog from the shelter. I may go back for a puppy, but even then now I'm wary because they were trying to give me a "ready to go" 4 month old lab pit mix that was covered in fleas, mostly bones, and hiding and cowering in a corner. Now I'm worried I might go home with a puppy that has distemper. Anyway, I apologize this got so long but short end of it, I appreciate this article and I agree that shelters should be more cautious of adopting out aggressive dogs, and stop keeping them in favor of other dogs that are being put down.


Rebecca
May 15, 2017

One of the dogs I had to take back is the "SHELTER'S" best! I saw that and in 4 mths the dog has had a lot of aggression training or she has turned into wonder dog!


Debra Kimble
November 23, 2016

I was recently injured by a German Shepherd at a shelter. During my inquiry about him, I told a shelter manager that I was in search of a dog that would become a service dog. I have an implant in my stomach (similar to a pacemaker). I was also very clear that the dog I adopted would spend a lot of time with  myself, my son, and my 4 year old grandson. In addition, because it would be a service dog, it would be regularly in public. I was also totally up front that I lived in a different state and the dog would be in an airport and on a plane within 48 hours. At this point, they did state that they would recommend cargo vs. the cabin. Perhaps that was code for "beware of this dog in public". I explained that Southwest Airlines only allows dogs in the cabin, and they were just indifferent to that. Fast forward to our meeting with the dog. They first put us, meaning myself, my daughter (7 months pregnant), son in law, and 5 YEAR OLD granddaughter in an outdoor meeting area. We seemed to wait a long time for this meet and greet, and they told us that they had only "certain" staff members that could introduce Joey Ramone, which was the dogs name. Perhaps another secret code? When we finally met, we spent a short time with him in an outdoor cage surrounded by chain link fencing. He  seemed a little nervous but I didn't know what is normal or not for a shelter dog. He did, during that time run to the edge of the fencing in a pacing type behavior, while barking as other dogs walked by. The staff stated that he was a little bit "dog reactive". I took "dog reactive" to mean he would simply be a barker etc., and I'm convinced that is exactly what they hoped I would continue to think based on the entire interaction. Since a service dog is such a long term unique situation, I wanted a little more time with him, so they had me walk Joey Ramone outside the caged area. They suggested that just me, not my family take him for this walk. I didn't think much of it at the time, but the shelter staff member had me double leash him, even wrapping the leash several times around my arm...clearly a bad idea. As we walked out a side door, within about one minute, Joey Ramone saw a Newfoundland across the way, and he took off like a five hundred pound rocket. I was pulled to the ground extremely hard and unbelievably fast. He pulled the leashes off my arms and Joey Ramone attacked the other dog in a way that someone's imagination couldn't conjure up. This was not a dog fight that most have witnessed at some point in life. This Shepherd was in no way a "potential pet, and he was not simply "dog reactive." This dog was violent and the attack was a vicious,vicious scene. I have since spoken to the shelter who denies any knowledge that Joey Ramone had any behavior issues prior to that incident. They claim that the dog just "snapped" but they admit that he did attack 5 or 6 more dogs right after that incident and was ultimately euthanized. Do dogs generally just "snap" like that?


Kerrin Hoban, DVM
November 19, 2016

For B.  with the German Shepherd mentioned in the last post.  If you keep your dog, train him to wear a good quality basket muzzle and put that on him at all times if there is anyone present besides yourself and other people he is safe with.  Train him to walk on a Gentle Leader, or use a close fitting collar and short leash and a basket muzzle.  You will be much more comfortable if you know he can't bite anyone.   A proper fitting basket muzzle can be worn all waking hours unless the dog is crated/kenneled or being fed.


KaD
November 18, 2016

I wonder if these people realize they can go to jail for adopting out dogs that harm people: https://dogbitelaw.com/adoption-organization-liability-for-dog-bites/the-legal-duties-of-a-transferor. (Editor's note: This message was edited to remove language that could be construed as offensive.)


B
October 28, 2016

Thank you for posting this article. I never realized how common my situation is. I adopted a beautiful GSD dog from a shelter 4 years ago. When I got him, he was 70lbs - 30lbs underweight - and clearly exhausted of dealing with life. He was found on the street and adopted out by an elderly woman, who the shelter told me at the time of adoption could "no longer handle him." made sense to me, an elderly lady and a huge 6 year old dog that needs exercise? Why did she think she's be able to "handle" him? He walked slowly over to me and laid on my feet - something the shelter personnel told me had never happened. And tbh, I believe that. I took him home, and he started eating again (he lost the weight because after his owner relinquished him he was too depressed to eat). A few months after adopting him, he started lunging at runners on the sidewalk - the first time, he managed to grab and rip the runner's shorts. I called the shelter about hip issues I found out he had (the shelter told me he had a thorough evaluation and his hips were perfect) and mentioned the incident. At this time, months after adopting, they mentioned that aggressive behavior towards men was why he was relinquished - but the shelter staff thought that since he was so sweet there, it must have been the owner's fault because she was too high-strung. I was furious - now what do I do about this dog who has bonded with me, that I can't relinquish because I know he could cause harm to another family - if he didn't die of starvation in the meantime? Throughout the coming few years, and after aggressive dog training, it became clear he has fear based aggression, and was likely brought up in an environment with an abusive male. I love my dog so, so much, but years later I am battling with whether I should put him down or not. He has never drawn blood on anyone, but has given a friend a warning bite, and men in my family have received warning nips on their pants for anything from giving me a hug to walking too close to me. He lunges at men walking down the street if I don't notice them fast enough, which doesn't result in a bite, but understandably scares the men, and scares me too. I have to be 100% on, all the time, when outside of my house, and the anxiety after 4 years is getting difficult to manage. The dreams of taking him to dog-friendly areas for a fun visit are just that - dreams that I know will never happen. He loves me so much, and my immediate family  and is so gentle with them, so it hurts to even think about this. Any advice from the DVM's would be extremely helpful.


V
April 15, 2016

SPCA Norwich NY:  Called me one night to come and take this sweet dog before he was Heart Stuck in the morning.  He was so friendly and sweet and had no aggression issues they said.  He also had no shots at all and had been at the shelter for 4 months.  So I went down and picked this dog up.  I was bitten, bruised, my neighbor was trapped by this dog in a building - he wouldn't let her move.  He ripped into my arms, legs and body.  The SPCA had no response when I confronted them.  I was so worried about Rabies.  They and the county Health department laughed.  The Rabies coordinator for the county said to me "Rabies does not exist in present day."  So yes.  I think a lot od these shelters are basically allowing lethal animals to leave with unsuspecting caring people without a second thought.  It should be against the law and have some sort of penalty attached for the shelter allowing animals out like this.  But once again, these shelters seem to be above the law.  Nothing is ever their fault and accountability does not exist for them.


Sally J. Foote, DVM
March 22, 2016

What is a fact are the bite statistics, the increase in shelters homing aggressive dogs than in years past, dogs who are aggressive will always know the power of the bite.  That dog has a higher likelihood of biting than another dog without a history of biting. No matter how well controlled the home, there is still risk.  Why are the shelter boards not taking the advice of the veterinarian?  IMO this is the question that must be answered. I support all veterinarians who end their relationship with rescues and shelters that do not take their advice on euthanasia of biting, aggressive animals.


Susan Porter
March 2, 2016

I would go so far as to say that if a rescue organization brags that they do not euthanize then don't get a dog from them. At least pay to have an independent, trained behaviorist perform a comprehensive behavior test to look for the 13 types of aggression before completing an adoption. Rescue organizations who do not euthanize aggressive dogs are passing them on to naive adopters. I know this because there is a certain percentage of aggressive dogs who bite in the population and many of them end up in rescue because their former owners are passing them on rather than doing the responsible thing. I volunteered for a San Francisco Bay Area rescue group for 5 years. I quit because the group became more and more fanatical and was actively promoting the adoption of aggressive dogs. I was actually pushed out because I refused to air-brush the biographies of these dogs and refused to play any role in promoting their adoption. Six other volunteers were pushed out of the group the same year for the same reason. Rescue groups like this tarnish the reputation of all rescue groups. When searching for a dog, I highly recommend that people go to county shelters rather than private rescue groups. This is because the shelters do behavior testing and do not risk liability by adopting out aggressive dogs. If you are bitten by a dog you have adopted from a rescue group, pursue legal action. Things won't change otherwise.


Susan Konecny
February 26, 2016

As a shelter veterinarian I have encountered many different animals and many different opinions. Dogs that are aggressive should never be adopted to anyone unless they are fully aware and accepting of the dog's history, behavior or handling needs AND have the ability to provide the dog with a reasonable quality of life that will not jeopardize human safety.  These conditions occur only rarely. That being said, please don't confuse  the "no kill" belief with this subject. No kill is about ending shelter killing of animals for space and convenience. It is not about keeping every single animal alive regardless of dangerous behavior. The no-kill shelter I worked at for several years did not adopt out any animal deemed unadoptable due to aggression (by a group of several educated individuals, including the executive director, shelter manager and veterinarian). These cases were never taken lightly. So please remember that these two issues are not one and the same. We can choose to be part of the solution (through education and rational discourse) or part of the problem.


Shanna Compton, DVM
February 25, 2016

Thank you, Dr. Oursler, for a well-written and informative article.  I think that many of the comments below, other than the one by "Nobody Special," show how important this topic is.  When I see clients who are afraid of their own pets (usually dogs, rarely cats) then I wonder why on earth they keep them.  Part of having a pet is the joy of interacting with it -- why on earth would you want to interact with a frightening being?


Merritt Clifton
February 24, 2016

From the opening of the first U.S. shelter that adopted out dogs in 1858 until 1988,  no former shelter dog is known to have ever killed anyone.  Newly rehomed wolf hybrids killed two children in 1988 and 1989,  after which the sheltering community became much more careful.  The next fatality inflicted by a shelter dog came in 2000,  when a pit bull killed an adopter's roommate.  Two more fatalities occurred by 2010.  From 2010 to present,  however,  40 rehomed dogs have killed people,  of whom more than 30 of the dogs were pit bulls,  and only two were not pits,  bull mastiffs,  or Rottweilers in predominant configuration.  All of this is recklessly squandering the good reputation for doing safe adoptions that thousands of shelters developed over more than 150 years.


Marc Brown
February 23, 2016

How interesting that a couple of amateur 'nobody specials' stop by to say this vet must have some distorted view due to 'a trauma'. I wonder how many degrees these commenters have in animal behavior, behavioral biology and human psychology. I'm betting none. This blog post describes the daily reality in shelters. Maudlin sentimental staff and volunteers with no credentials or experience that matter satisfy dysfunctional ego needs by jumping on the barricades for dogs that are severely dangerous. Dogs that have attacked -- not bitten, but attacked -- shelter staff are excused by some weird, amateur-invented depth psychology, while many non-dangerous dogs are put down to keep space for these attacking dogs. Shelter work has become a highly dysfunctional subculture that is endangering the whole enterprise of sheltering and rehoming dogs. Real psychology predicts that lying and cheating only work for awhile, then they backfire. And indeed...more and more people are refusing to even look at shelter dogs because they know they can't trust a shelter to be honest with them. And so the casualties aren't only human. They are also the many normal shelter dogs that are put down to keep space for the vicious ones, the normal dogs that no one dares to take home because shelters so often lie, and the many animals that end up attacked, mauled or killed because maudlin shelter staff insisted on rehoming a known aggressive dog. This attitude has nothing to do with caring about animals, including the aggressive dogs. It's all about a misguided ego-trip that is good for no one at all and is actively bad for animals.


Joanie
February 23, 2016

Awesome. The craziness of overlooking aggression in dogs, especially the largest and most tenacious bully breeds that have the greatest strength has got to be stopped. So many vets stay silent and don't speak out. The AVMA research is old and muddled with unfactual opinions with pitbull advocates as the authors. Facts are facts. Dogs that are temperament tested or have a history of aggression should not be adopted out. Thank you for standing strong as you might of saved the life of some dogs and a human being.


Kelly
February 23, 2016

Great post!  As a shelter worker in my local municipal shelter I have seen first hand how the zealots of "no kill" have put the agenda of "saving shelter animals" above the safety of the public. Dogs that have been deemed to be potentially dangerous by the behavior staff, that are released to "rescue groups" that have bitten people within minutes of leaving the shelter in the shelter parking lot - yet the excuse I hear again and again is that they are "only stressed by the shelter" - as if "stress" will never happen again in the animal's lifetime - how about the "stress" of a knock on the door by a delivery person, or the "stress" of having a kid ride his bike down the street?  "yes I want to adopt the dog that bites people for coming within 5 feet of it" - said NO ADOPTER EVER. I have seen time again and again that dogs that pose a significant potential for harm are released to a rescue group ONLY to be posted the next day as "available for adoption" to any unsuspecting family. The shelter deludes itself that the rescue will do diligent training and adoption screening, the public is too trusting and naive on reading dogs - and unfortunately it will not only result in someone getting seriously mauled but as a side note, may also cause the public to seek out buying dogs from breeders as they learn of more & more horror stories from dogs adopted from shelters & rescues. "No Kill" and their kool-aid drinking supporters are their own worst enemies, I would no longer recommend to a friend that they walk into a shelter or rescue and adopt a dog - it is just not safe. 


Shelter Vet
February 23, 2016

As a vet in a shelter setting, I agree completely with this blog post.  We often have to look for a medical reason animals with behavior issues shouldn't be adopted out because a small set of people was able to handle the animal.  Rescue groups often take very aggressive animals as well, and I always fear what will happen in their next destination(s).  We have to remember that the general public is not made up of people who understand animal body language and can address behavior issues. Most people think they can brush off, "he doesn't get along with _____" because if the problem was serious the dog wouldn't be adoptable.  And most people forget that dogs can cause serious injuries.


Phyllis DeGioia
February 23, 2016

Nobody, her experience has certainly affected her point of view. That's what blogs do: they provide the author's point of view and experiences. Dr. Oursler has had two traumatic events along this line: disagreeing with her local rescue group, and fostering an aggressive dog who bit her son, so she has an opinion on the topic that she is sharing. Phyllis DeGioia, Editor of VetzInsight


Nobody special
February 22, 2016

Much as I respect the posts on this blog, and recognize that some individuals/groups may place animals in homes without doing proper due diligence ... Nonetheless, I think the author has experienced a traumatic event and should acknowledge that it may have affected her perspective. She is not an unbiased observer in this instance.



 
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