8.06.2014

Dear Rescue Groups and Shelters:

Dear Rescue Groups and Shelters who don't behavior assess, and truck dogs in from The South:
I know you mean well. I really, really know you mean well. These dogs would be likely euthanized if not sent north. I get it. However, every time you send a semi-feral dog ill-suited to the city and that dog ends up in Boston, Cambridge, NY, Portland, Somerville, and other congested areas, a fairy looses it's wings.
Every time you send a dog who should not be around children to a family with kids, someone gets hurt: either the family gets heartbroken when they have to re-home it or put it on drugs just so it can get through the day, or a kid gets bit.
Behavior assessment isn't the end all, but something needs to happen. You can start by not trucking sick and behaviorally unsound dogs into the state and giving them to well intending people who just want a family pet. Bring us your dogs that can survive in the city- legitimately survive in the city. I know they exist. I've met them. But the dogs who can't make it in the city should maybe NOT GO TO THE CITY, and you need to be honest about that.
I have to serve by a code of ethics as part of my certification, and many rescue groups do as well. Then, there are the ones who just need to get dogs out, and put them wherever. When it doesn't work out, those groups are unable to help an emotionally invested family, and that's totally, completely, absolutely unethical. A dog isn't saved because it's not in the shelter - a dog is saved when it can thrive and cope. Some of the "placements" and "matching" that is done is absolutely not in the interest of saving the dog. They are holding on by a thread, and these owners are trying their best. Sometimes that isn't good enough, and in many cases, that's back on you.
Love,
Every dog trainer and behavior specialist who has to tell a family with kids two weeks after getting the dog that it is not suited to be in the city, can't be around kids, needs meds, and a lot more work than was ever expected, or that their beloved pet needs to be rehomed because it can't cut it in the city even with all the training and management in the world.
PS - Let's work together and figure this out.
PPS: There are GREAT rescues who can totally ignore this.

Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA