Rescues and shelters that “rescue responsibly” are bombarded by people who can be extreme and want every dog saved, every time and at any cost. The honest truth is you can not save them all, nor should you.
Resources for rescue are not endless, and they only exist because of the rescue’s supporters. Decisions are made every day by a rescue on how and when to spend those supportive donation resources. They not only have an obligation to the dogs in their care, but they also have an obligation to be stewards of the resources their supporters have supplied them and to use them in the best way possible and where they will have the most significant impact.
Countless well-behaved dogs are being euthanized in shelters daily. The question is: should rescues invest time, effort, and money into several dogs with good temperaments and good behavior or use that same time, effort and money to save one dog with a severe aggressive behavior issue? For most people, that decision is pretty straightforward. Still, some have a "save them all" perspective and do not understand the resources it takes for a dog like this to be rehabilitated if they even can be rehabilitated. Or how a rescue will be able to find a home with the experience needed to manage severe aggressive behavior issues and guarantee that they will never happen again. There are those who “think” every dog should be saved, regardless of the incident. They have all the advice to give, but are they willing to take in the dog? See the dog through training? Manage the behavior the dog is exhibiting or changing their whole lifestyle for the benefit of this dog? Be liable for the dog? No, they are not.
Victim blaming can run rampant and does. When a dog bites, everyone tries to find why the dog bit, and usually, for the dog, there is a reason; it just might not be a good, acceptable reason. Humans are the actual cause of these types of situations. Many dogs that bite come from poor breeding practices, poor nutritional care, lack of veterinary care, proper training, socialization, and management. Humans are responsible for properly caring for the dogs they bring into their lives, but there is a lack of dog care knowledge amongst dog owners. When there is a tragedy, the dog pays the ultimate price because of a human error. It will always be a human error at fault, but that won’t change anything once there is a tragedy and there’s no going back after it happens.
Dog Bites and Liability
Dog bites are not created equal. There are those dogs that can be rehabilitated, retrained, and safely placed into responsible homes with minimal management; there are those that can never be rehabilitated, or placed safely. When an incident is documented, and a human has required medical attention and/or hospitalization, or another dog is dead, you have profound legal implications. These incidents are not something to be taken lightly. Liability is the part that some “rescues” and “save them all people” ignore when trying to justify saving a dog like this. Full disclosure is required, and typically a dog such as this will have been declared legally dangerous. This disclosure brings legal requirements that must be met. The probability an adopter that has not yet been found will have the resources or the ability to provide such conditions for a dog they have not even met yet are slim to none. The rescue would also have to meet these requirements as well while rehabilitating and housing this dog. No rescue that chooses to take in dogs like this is going to be eligible for insurance.
The legalities don’t stop there, no matter how many release papers you sign, IF anything ever were to happen again if you place a dog that has severely bitten, maimed, or killed and you know what that dog is capable of and has previously done, and you place that dog into another home, the legal responsibility is still yours. Lawsuits are rampant in today’s world. In cases like these, past behavior is indicative of future behavior. Everything a rescue or owner has worked for could be gone.
Suppressing Behavior and Sanctuaries
When rescues choose to take in these types of dogs, you will find that they are typically "rehabilitated" with negative training, shock collars, particularly inboard and train facilities where no one sees what they are doing to the dog. Making the dog suppress the behavior appears as if the behavior has been corrected, gone away, until one day the dog explodes. When that doesn’t work, they may try to send them off to a sanctuary, and there are good ones out there, but there are also bad ones who just warehouse dogs. Being alive isn’t all that matters, quality of life matters so much more. Is it fair to these dogs to have to live a life of isolation or with a poor quality of life? Dogs live in the moment and live for attention; being alive without the quality of life can make them even more unstable, unpredictable, and miserable.
At the End of the Day
Rescue is not easy. These are decisions no one ever wants to make, they are hard to make, and they hurt you deep in your soul because rescue is here to save them but, sometimes letting them go is the kindest decision that can be made that will give them peace and put their demons to rest.