When Rescuers Go Too Far To Save, or Kill

Much has been said about dog-human fatalities, but much of it is centered on the breeds or breed of dog that people like to pick out as “dangerous.”  A lot of the public think that herding dogs or flock guardian types are all “dangerous.”

What most people do not realize is, many dogs can be made as dangerous as you would like by purposely  not training it, and then expecting the dog to get along perfectly with kids, or allowing children unfettered discretion to do with a dog as they please, and not supervising the children and dog.  When you place a re-homed dog into situations such as this, you are creating a recipe for disaster.

It seems that because some rescuers are aware of this, there are rescuers at each end of the spectrum. Those that want any dogs with perceived aggression put down, and those that think marginal dogs can all be “fixed.”

A recent case came to light involving a Golden Retriever Rescue Group in California.  The rescue had sent dogs to a certain dog trainer, who seemed to have done a good job rehabilitating dogs.  A volunteer of the rescue apparently found out that the trainer was “adopting” out a dog that the volunteer felt should not be adopted out, despite having been trained by the trainer.  In any event, the volunteer ended up pretending she was someone else, and managed to get the dog which was being adopted out, by subterfuge.

She then took the dog and had it killed.

Her reason was because she claimed to be protecting the rescue group “from liability” but of course, as a volunteer of the rescue, her liability would have been very limited, if any.  Needless to say, the trainer was mortified when he found out but it was too late.

According to the news report,  the volunteer was not authorized to intervene, and whether the trainer actually held title to the dog was unclear to me.   But the issue here is, there is a remarkable difference of opinion as to whether a dog is or is not dangerous.

My experience with rescued dogs (and it’s substantial)– shows that many rescuers take questionable dogs.  That is, they purposely take marginal dogs, dogs that have bitten, dogs that show outright aggression, dogs that have been in 4-5 homes and each family kicks it out for temperament issues, this type of thing.

And each rescuer that will take questionable dogs, those with questionable temperaments, believes he/she can “fix” the dog, despite not being a professional trainer or rehabilitative specialist.  “Oh, that dog is just a fear biter and I can stop that” or “Oh that dog didn’t mean to do that”, or “Oh that dog is nice, just give him a chance” etc etc.

I am not a professional trainer nor rehabilitative specialist.  But I usually can tell if a dog is questionable enough such that it would present a liability issue.  Bad health issues create excessive cost and potential temperament issues.  Being kicked out of multiple homes in a short time is a very red flag.  Having bitten on consecutive times in different homes is a huge issue.  Excessive fear or shyness is never good, growling at people (for no apparent reason)  is just plain NO.

And what about Craig’s List? Well, number One, it’s filled with animal extremists posting animals, so right off, you’re looking at a higher risk since many of them take in marginal dogs.  And Number Two, many extremists hate people, and don’t really care if an animal hurts someone.  That’s pretty obvious because they choose to take that risk when they take them in, to find the animal a home. But in the back of their mind, they want to get back at “people” for “making” the dog the way it is.  And they could be right in some cases, some dogs were made bad by people.

When I see incidents like this, where a volunteer feels she has to lie to have a dog get killed by using subterfuge, I know this is going too far.  But the rescue did not seem to care about the incident; and one of the board members then quit the rescue, because this made the rescue seem unprofessional, and that such antics made them look like a “nutcase.”  I am afraid I have to agree with that.

The volunteer was way off base, and if she felt the dog was that much of a liability, all she had to do was instruct whoever was in charge of the rescue. That’s it.  Even if the dog was that much of a hazard, the trainer and rescue would bear the blame, not the volunteer.  Now the volunteer has caused herself to look like the wing nut, the rescue looks bad because they knew nothing about it, and the trainer is beside himself.  Would you want to adopt from that rescue?  A rescue that allowed the volunteer’s actions to go unchecked even after the fact?

I am not judging the trainer or whether he did or didn’t out train the dog’s bad habits.  That’s not even a known fact. I would say that because the previous behavorist/trainer said the dog should wear a muzzle in public, it’s questionable.   But the methods used by the volunteer, and the failure of the rescue to remove the volunteer from the group speaks very loudly.  It’s almost like admitting they thought the dog was  definitely potentially dangerous,  but they let the dog go to a trainer anyway.  And that speaks as to the discretion of the rescue group itself.  Not good.  http://tinyurl.com/7rcbg7


2 thoughts on “When Rescuers Go Too Far To Save, or Kill

  1. Again I have to say THANK YOU! I have been outcast by various rescue groups because I do take dogs from the shelter, dogs with issues, & dogs that no one else wants. I am a rescuer, not a trainer or a behaviorist but I can tell after a couple of weeks at the most if a dog can be considered “adoptable” I have met 2 that didn’t fit that bill, one of which HUNTED children, he went through a solid wood door after one kid with me at the end of the leash. I took him in to have him put down & first calls went out to the whole rescue community for someone to take the dog, once I explained that the dog wasn’t available for rescue or adoption then I became the dog killing #&$%@… This dog was also a pit bull, & they have enough of an astigmatism attached to them already & there are so many GOOD ones out there why or how could I responsibly set this dog loose in the world? The second dog was a lab mix & who would suddenly go from snuggling to full on attack mode, & of course that was the final straw, now other rescuers have gone on a campaign to destroy me because I am no more than a dog killer in their eyes. I am assuming that they would’ve blamed me had one of those dogs killed someone or maimed them… Or they would’ve blamed the owners. There are many good dogs at the shelters who need homes & many more breeders then people realize who only breed for temperment & health, so my theory is work on the dogs we can save. I also work with breeders so that also makes me a rescue social outcast… Can’t win for losing sometimes….

  2. will check it out and get back to you. we do not prejudge but we can be harsh if need be. we have done rescue and are well aware of what ARs do, what AC does, and how the ploy works. The end result is they dont want people owning dogs or animals, and if owned, they want to control how you own it, and they want to control all aspects of animals in the commercial sense, until it becomes impossible to do so due to cost, controversy, and impossibility. The supreme court of the USA wont allow that, but lower courts will. Therefore it requires people to understand this stuff at a lower level.

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