We get a lot of calls for help through the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter Community Outreach Program, but this week I got one of the toughest. The obviously distraught, obviously desperate owner needed help finding a home for his dog. The dog was showing aggressive behavior and the family feared for their children.
Hit one. As we continued to talk, they explained that the dog also didn’t get along with the other animals. Hit two. And finally, the dog had bitten someone in an incident. Hit three.
Each blow makes my heart sink even more.
Between each strike, the family described a dog with wonderful qualities: very well trained, perfectly groomed and a wonderful companion. If only he could find a home without other animals, without children, with someone who understands him, they are sure he would be okay.
There must be options, right?
And that’s the way it is for too many dogs… 80 percent wonderful, but the remaining 20 percent potentially dangerous.
Whenever a call like this comes in, I want to have a solution for the family. Just like when an aggressive dog enters the shelter, we want a solution. We want that magical place where dogs can be “fixed”, where they can be “saved”, where we can feel good sending them, knowing that they will not hurt anyone and that they will be happy. The sad reality is that we are looking for a miracle, not a probable one.
So I get stronger and have the most heartbreaking and uncomfortable discussion you can have with a pet owner. “I am really sorry.” “I wish I could offer you a better solution. “The chances of finding a home for your dog are almost non-existent. Because of his history and behavior, he is fundamentally unadoptable. Rescues will not support dogs with a history of biting. If he were to be placed in a shelter, his final days will be filled with stress and fear, which is sure to exacerbate the behavior problems.
If you were to find a home for her in some way, you could still be held legally responsible if someone or another pet was injured as a result of their behavior. If you can’t fix these issues at home with a trainer, the nicest thing you can do is euthanize your pet.
This is called behavioral euthanasia and for some dogs it is the only option, the last resort. It’s not bad, but it’s heartbreaking and devastating. It’s even worse when an owner contacts their vet or clinic and is refused for refusing to euthanize healthy animals. A family may have to contact several vets in order to find help.
I believe that animal welfare and the medical community have a responsibility to ensure that the decision is not made recklessly or irresponsibly, but we also have a responsibility to provide humane options when children or animals family are in danger.
When we stigmatize the decision or force families to do something that is already incredibly difficult, we increase the chances that the situation will not be handled responsibly.
We are increasing the chances that these dangerous dogs will be released and brought to the shelter as stray. We increase the chances that the family will lie or downplay the dog’s problems in order to find a placement. We increase the chances of someone getting hurt.
If you are trying to figure out what to do about your dog’s behavioral issues, your first step is a visit to your vet to rule out any medical issues that may be contributing to his behavior.
If the behavior persists, I always recommend a trainer or behaviorist as the next step. Most behavioral problems can be resolved through these avenues. Behavioral euthanasia should only be considered when aggressive behavior endangers other animals or people.
If, after trying everything, a family still faces behavioral euthanasia, they should be treated with the same grace and respect that we give to a family who has lost a pet due to illness or illness. age. Making and acting on the decision to let go of a loved pet in order to protect others is one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner can face.
Shelter needs: Dry food for cats and kittens, canned food for cats and kittens, new fleece blankets, cheese slices, hot dogs, drying sheets, hand sanitizer, hand soap and cleaning wipes.
To submit an adoption form for one of the Pets of the Week or another animal at the shelter, visit https://southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org/forms/adoption-questionnaire.
For more information on SJRAS, call (856) 691-1500 or visit southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org or SJRASVineland on Facebook.
CATS OF THE WEEK
Orli, about 9 months old, is a stunning house panther ready for her home!
Yoshi is a wonderful boy who is as sweet as he is handsome!
Pocus has come a long way! She loves animals and is really adorable. She’s been at the shelter for too long! She needs a home of her own!
Mr. Meowgi is a shy young guy who is absolutely gorgeous and has the cutest pink nose.
Portobello, a 3 year old girl, is the cutest and very photogenic girl.
Jemma is a sweet girl who is looking for some love and would make an amazing best friend.
DOGS OF THE WEEK
The A is a 2-year-old sweet kernel blend. She is lively, friendly and fun to be around and will make a pleasant and dedicated companion. She calms down very well after her initial arousal when she meets you.
Funky is a super fun and friendly 3 year old bully breed. He is easy going, very affectionate and loves attention. Funky is comedic and loves to play. He is a young, intelligent and cheerful dog.
Tater Tot is cute and sweet and small, a 23 pound mixed breed.
Marlon is a beautiful 3 year old core mix, which is a nice medium size at 45 pounds. It’s lively and fun but sets up nicely after playtime is over.
Biggie is a fun and friendly 5 year old American Bulldog mix. At 98 pounds, he’s a big boy who could use good long walks every day. He knows how to “sit”, “paw” and “lie down” and learns very quickly. Biggie is playful and affectionate.
Valentina rayne is a 2 year old small / medium shepherd mix that weighs 50 pounds. She is lively and friendly and walks quite well on a leash. Valentina loves to play fetch and is intelligent and eager to please.
Cuco is a beautiful 8 year old puppy with an easy going personality. Cuco has long awaited a loving home forever. Find out, he might just be your perfect match!
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