Talking Points

Avoid Shelter Dogs: ‘They’re Given up for a Reason’ – Who’s Saying This?

I think I spend too much time listening to experienced, caring dog owners.

Yes, I may spend *some* of my time reporting on the horrific abuses that dogs endure but the large majority of time is spent discussing dogs or writing about dogs with people who know a bit about dogs. I think I need to try and change that. I think I need to see if it is possible to get a more rounded idea how less savvy dog folk think and speak because if I don’t, I’m going to worry.

I’m going to worry because I’ve seen far too many statements like this one on a very popular Internet forum:

"First, I wouldn’t recommend a rescue centre as the dogs there may have been abandoned for a reason. OK, there are good dogs too, but there is that risk.

Go for a dog with a known placid temperament. Small dogs tend to be aggressive as well as large ones."

I’d love to tell you it was a one off, statements like this, but it’s not. I’ve seen it and heard it expressed in too many different places now. And, hang on to your hats, this is an opinion coming from DOG OWNERS! Aren't dog owners supposed to care about dogs?

Thousands of dogs like Erin are in shelter through no fault of their own.

The world wide web has been a ray of light in many respects in terms of helping dog owners, novice and experienced, share information, learn more and generally up their game in the dog ownership stakes. Would-be dog owners have been able to benefit even more, many dog owners go in to the role with a head full of information gained from the Net – some of it good, some of it not so and, sadly, some of it absolutely, positively RUBBISH!

We have a problem.

Sorry, more to the point; rescue dogs have a problem.

Sorry, more to the point again; the image of rescue and dog adoption has a problem.

Some people, dog lovers many of them, are more than willing to share a common myth, that rescue dogs are homeless through some fault of their own, with anyone who tells them they're thinking of adopting a dog.

It seems no matter what you tell them, they simply won’t have it any other way – ‘you need to be careful of rescue dogs because you never know why they got given up in their first place’. Or, ‘you need to steer clear of a rescue dog if you’ve got children, you never know if they might just snap at any point.’

Give me strength. How maddening is this?

If a child loses his or her parents in a motor crash, that child potentially has no family fall back on. That child potentially ends up needing to be adopted to a new family. That child may very well be a future prime minister, president or yes, maybe an axe murderer – but one thing he or she is not is ‘deserving’ of their plight of being family-less. Dogs, as most of us know, are absolutely no different. Dog abandonment is an OWNER problem that is passed on to the dog.

Dogs need homes, not stigma.

Jasmine is a dog who needs a home. Was it her fault she ended up in this situation? Absolutely not!

Yes, without doubt, there are ‘problem’ dogs in rescue. But here’s the great big smiley face about that particular problem: If you are a novice dog owner looking for your ideal dog and if you have decided to look past the stupid, ridiculous, outdated, moronic myths about shelter dogs, you will find that the rescue is pretty keen that any dog it may be prepared to let you spend the rest of its life with should not end up back in their care within a few weeks. On that basis, they make it their business to evaluate the qualities and weaknesses of all the dogs in their care and they go out of their way to ensure that you get matched with the RIGHT dog for you.

This is, when you think about it, one HELL of an advantage. When you really consider it, this is like going to a fine art dealer who knows and accepts you are wet behind the ears but who is STILL 100% committed to making sure that you leave the shop with the very finest piece, perfectly tailored to YOU and YOUR lifestyle. Strangely, what they are NOT doing is trying to ‘fit you up’ with a timebomb, ready to ‘blow’ at any time.

So please, if you ever hear anyone remotely utter any of these myths about shelter dogs somehow being responsible for their own homelessness, try and put over the real story. Rescue dogs are – after all – just dogs. They are NO different anatomically, chemically or neurologically than any other random dog produced by anyone, anywhere. They’re dogs – they behave like dogs, in other words they are the product of their environment, upbringing and the result of effort put it by their human carers.

Let’s look at this way.

If you come to my Reliant Robin dealership and I sell you a battered old motor that’s been round the block a few times, you can still drive it home and get much great use from it – if you look after it of course.

If you come to my Aston Martin dealership and wrap your brand new sportscar round the first tree you encounter on your journey home, who’s fault is that? Mine or yours?

Why do we constantly excuse humans for the behaviour of their dogs?

There is simply no such thing as a foolproof dog or a dog who can not behave disorderly in certain circumstances – all dogs are capable. But what is absolutely not fair is to point an accusing finger at the 100,000 dogs who have no home and make gigantically misinformed statements about giving them a wide birth on the basis of ‘needing to ask yourself why or how they ended up in rescue’. After all, the Aston Martin didn’t get wrapped around a tree because it was a bad car, now did it?

Adopt a Dog.

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Avoid Shelter Dogs: ‘They’re Given up for a Reason’ – Who’s Saying This?
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