You all know that Pets Alive often goes head to head with shelters that are still practicing archaic policies that result in the killing of perfectly healthy and adoptable dogs and cats.
Everyone knows by now about our experience with the ASPCA as we tried to save Oreo, a dog that suffered a life of cruelty and brutality. She was thrown off a six story building, had surgery, recovered, and then was killed by the ASPCA – even though we agreed to take her here.
We then went after the Jersey Shore Animal Center for their ridiculous policy of killing all FIV+ kittens and cats. We all know FIV+ cats can live perfectly normal and happy lives. It is also VERY difficult to spread, and kittens who test positive, often test negative for the disease after a retest once they are six months old.
We have gone after hoarders, the CACC, publicly denounced shelter directors that kill animals rather than take alternate options for them. We fight against archaic policies that result in animal deaths and we argue with shelters that want to kill dogs and cats rather than develop programs to help them get adopted.
We don’t just FIGHT and yell though. We work with shelters that WANT help and we try to take in their overflow, show them how to develop programs to get more adoptions, we help train their staff and we give them our policies, adoption contracts – anything that can help them get on their feet and stop the killing.
So we are no strangers to both fighting the injustice, and helping those that want to be helped.
Recently we came across Katie — just another dog in a long line of dogs that were abandoned. Katie’s story is a little different though.
Some volunteers of Pets Alive were alerted to Katie. She is a female pit bull mix, about a year old. She was left in the freezing cold, tied to a tree. They went out, got her, brought her home and tried to find her a forever home.
Well it turns out Katie doesn’t like other animals. She has to be an only dog.
All our volunteers are volunteers because they love animals, which means that most of them HAVE animals. Fostering her was quickly not becoming an option.
Dog aggressive dogs are difficult to adopt.
Many people have other dogs already, or they at least want to be able to take their dog to the dog park or other places.
Pit bulls can also be difficult to adopt. Pit bulls still have that terrible stigma that they are “vicious baby killers”. The reality is that pit bulls are one of the very FIRST family dogs (Petey from the little rascals was a pit) and they are some of the best dogs you can get for kids. Really! They usually love children and are VERY social dogs.
So here we have Katie. Doesn’t like other dogs. And a pittie.
Let’s put aside the pittie thing because for once that doesn’t come into play here believe it or not!
Enter the Port Jervis Humane Society.
They agree to take in Katie.
I want to start by saying there is a great person there. Lisa who works there helped Katie in a million ways and really worked with our volunteers on trying to save Katie. Lisa was a total love and really kind and friendly and offered every bit of assistance that she could.
Our volunteers are overjoyed.
They promise to continue to network Katie, and work as hard as they can to find her a home.
Our volunteers are good on their promise.
I see their Facebook pages every day – dozens and dozens of them posting for her, calling all their friends, trying to find her a home.
And they do!
Three different families step up and say “I’m interested! I will go and meet Katie and see if she is a good dog for me”.
They call the Port Jervis Humane Society, and the director, Bill, has decided that Katie is “unadoptable”. She is dog aggressive he says and therefore she can not be adopted. She can only be placed back in the owners hands, or a rescue may pull her, or she can be killed there, but she can never be adopted.
We have three potential adopters.
We have a dog that wants to go home.
and we have….
a shelter director that says she should die instead of letting her be adopted.
What did I miss?
Wait, let me go back and re-read that, surely I missed something.
::running finger over text as I read to be sure to not miss any words::
I got it.
Bill thinks that Katie has to be taken by ANOTHER shelter or rescue, or she needs to die because she doesn’t like other dogs.
So our volunteers, pause, get silent, and say, “um…why?”
He says “shelter liability”.
There it is!!
Bill will not adopt out a dog because he tells people that the shelter is liable if that dog eats another dog sometime in the future after they are adopted.
OK, and most people will hear that, indeed our own volunteers did, and they go “OH. How awful”.
Wait, don’t go away on me now.
Bill – that is total MALARKY!
How do you sleep at night throwing out such utter nonsense?
Your shelter is liable?
I just snorted milk out my nose.
What law school did you go to, Bill?
Can you show me where it says that anywhere?
Are you trying to get us to believe that if you adopt out a dog, and that dog bites another dog, that the owner of the other dog will find out where the dog was adopted from and come back and sue YOU?
How then can Pets Alive adopt out dogs with bite histories on HUMANS? Dogs that actually bit HUMANS. We adopt THEM out (relax everyone, we offer full disclosure on all our dogs, no one would adopt a dog with a bite history without being made very aware of it).
How could we do that?
How come we haven’t been sued before?
And what if one of our cats scratch someone?
We might have to start declawing every cat so that we aren’t liable, or maybe we need to euthanize them all so that we don’t get sued if they scratch someone. Better off dead than a chance of us getting sued. I mean, what if that cat scratch gets INFECTED???? ::SHUDDER::
And Bill – OMG!!! Bill, we better attach catheters to ALL our dogs. What if one of our dogs urinates on someone’s couch?!! We might be liable Bill! We might get sued for the cost of that couch!
I am terrified at the thought of what would happen if a dog jumped up on someone’s car and scratched the paint. OMG. I might get sued and I might be liable for the cost of the car.
I think I better just kill all the dogs and cats here. I really can’t take the chance that any of the above can happen.
Doesn’t all this seem ridiculous?
But this happens every day. Saying a dog that is dog aggressive and therefore unadoptable is saying the same thing as all the above that “seem” more ridiculous to you all, but it isn’t.
Look, ANYONE can sue anyone else over ANYTHING. You don’t even have to be sane. You can be a complete nutjob and sue your neighbor for something you invented in your head. You won’t WIN, but you can sue. One more thing, Bill. If you DID get sued…there is ONE thing that works in our favor. That dogs are considered “property”.
So even if Katie actually KILLED another dog sometime in the future (which would be utterly horrible and I’m certainly not in support of that and would be horrified at the thought) all you could be sued for was the “value”of that “property”. So someone could sue you over the VALUE of their dead dog. The “replacement value”. See? Archaic laws and rules and policies are still on the books. This is one of them. That our dogs are just “property”. In this particular case though, if you’re so worried about your liability, then you only have to worry about the “value” of the dog. What they paid for it. That is “IF” they manage to win such a case. And again, why would it be against YOU as the shelter, and not the OWNER of the dog?
Your argument really holds no water.
It is absurd.
So are your policies.
Get over them now.
Adopt dogs that are dog aggressive.
Explain the dog needs to always be kept on a leash and in a yard.
We have adopted HUNDREDS of dog aggressive dogs.
Know how many times we have been sued?
Choose LIFE Bill.
Choose HOMES over death.
If people are knocking on your door to take home a dog and give it a good life, LET THAT DOG GO HOME.
We took Katie here to Pets Alive.
Thank you for housing her until a “rescue” could come and get her.
Today she has an adoption appointment.
Wish her well.
Next time, consider BEING that rescue.
Adopt her out.
Oh…by the way. I just came back from the kennel.
Katie was just adopted.
Here she is about to go home – to her new LIFE.
– See more at: http://petsalive.com/blog/2011/01/29/a-note-to-shelter-directors-choose-life/