Rescue Journal

and since i am so wound up about the devastating effects of misinformed bullshit in rescue...lets talk about the euthanization of shelter dogs.

Carol  ·  Jan. 25, 2014

how many chances do questionable dogs get?

there is a big ta-do over the recent euthanization of a 9 month old Doberman puppy. people think this was wrong. now I have never known anyone in animal welfare to kill a perfectly fine in every way adoptable dog so I know that dog had issues. what those issues were, I don't know. why that dog was not sent out to rescue? I don't know.

but I do know a couple of things just from my own personal experience. fletcher, a 6 month old pit bull puppy ripped open the belly of one of my blind dogs and during the attack, I could not get him off. I know fletcher's aggressively pushy behavior had been escalating for the previous couple of weeks as he was maturing and I was getting worried about him.

following the incident and considering the severe damage he caused to another full grown dog at only 6 months of age...I decided to euthanize him, I was responsible for him and it was my call. how many more chances should fletcher have gotten..another one? two? should I have waited until someone was dead?

oh wait! I actually did that too.

lets talk about Lance. a stray picked up in prince George so very anxious at being confined that he jumped out of the kennels. he got sent down south to another shelter here where he jumped out of those kennels too. he was put in a foster home where in his extreme anxiety he did not just sample the house, he ate it. he was then sent out to rescue so he did not have to be euth'd, he was now an unadoptable dog. here he jumped a fence and badly injured a sheep, $4000 later we now had a 10 foot fence to keep the barn guys safe but lance kept eating the house. he was good with all of the other dogs, even sharing his bed with the little ones. when he was calm and someone was with him, he was a very good dog. but one day when he was left alone and he escalated himself into full panic, and instead of just ripping apart a door, he ripped open another little dog. both he and mini me died that day.

at what point SHOULD lance been euthanized? and is this something the general public or people on the sidelines should determine? is it appropriate to leave it up to a public vote? because trust me you will get a lot of different answers. and my answer is whatever point euthanization should have been, should have been done before I finally did it.

not every dog can be saved and not every dog should be saved.

some dogs are just too messed up, some dogs pose too great of a risk, some dogs because of their problems simply will not be able to continue to live, they are going to screw up too badly. that is the really sad reality for some of them and it fucking well sucks.

sending every seriously messed up dog out to rescue is a REALLY bad idea. I learned hurt.

shelters are responsible for the animals in their care. they are the ones who know the ins and outs of the situation and they are the ones ultimately who must decide which dogs get a chance, or two or three. deciding to euthanize a messed up dog is absolutely horrible for everybody. we all REALLY want happy fairy tale endings for all of our dogs but some of them are just not going to get them.

I appreciate the care that the shelters take to really try only to send us appropriate dogs..but mistakes happen to them and to me because we all want to help these dogs so much.

I wish I could tell that to fletcher, mini and lance but I can't because they are all dead.

people have to stop beating the crap out of shelters who have to euthanize some one is doing it because it is fun, it is being done because it usually has to be done, now or later...who should decide?

well I will decide for my dogs and I will respectfully let others decide for theirs.

the euthanizing of any animal is a serious is responsible and reasonable that the people who know the animal the best, who know what possible appropriate options may or may not be available, make the decisions the best that they can. certainly well meaning people who do not know the dog well or at all are most likely not the most appropriate decision makers for any sadly screwed up dogs.

and i have one final question for everyone who bashes those that have to many are willing to risk a fletcher or lance in their home or rescue? how many are even willing to risk getting stuck for the REST OF THEIR LIVES with even moderately screwed up dogs like odie, crazy horse, puff or phoebe? all of whom frequently bite and are really difficult to manage.

the problem with humans is..we always think there is a bad guy...and there is. it is the folks that bred these dogs and allowed them to become messed up to begin is not the people who actually were trying to save them.


niki bouland

excellant post, at some point there needs to be some common sense.....and honest evaluation.


Have been in rescue for years, I could not agree more...with one caveat. You assume that shelters never euthanize a dog rather than sending him/her to rescue unless he has issues. That may be true in California but it is surely not true in Georgia. Unfortunately, here many dog with great temperament are being euthanized simply due to lack of space. Equally unfortunately, many not so good dogs are sent to rescue under the premises that every dog deserves a chance, and many rescues are not willing to euthanize a dog who is dangerous even if that would open space for a great dog who will instead be killed. It is never an easy decision but sometime it is necessary. The reality of Georgia, and the South in general, makes what you write even more compelling!



you know what I should have said in that post as far as both fletcher and lance were concerned to make it clearer?

that I could not responsibly send either of them off from saints to a home or another rescue once I was aware of the severity of their issues...I felt it was too great a risk so I opted for euthanization to keep others safe.

(people don't get that we sometimes feel we have to make these terrible decisions and still really love these dogs.)


sorry sheena, I did not mean to any way imply that fletch was sent here because of behavior issues...he was simply a 3 month old sick puppy when he was sent here. I was only using him as an example because of the aggression issues that started surfacing as he matured while he was here and how I was the one that had to make the decisions regarding his eventual death because I was the one who now knew him best. so sorry I was so muddled in not being clear about that! you guys were in no way whatsoever at fault in this. you sent me a sweet and sick puppy....what he began to grow into as he matured no one could have predicted in any way.
and oh yeah! and thx for that shitzhead by the way..he bit one of the staff today...little turd. but whatever..he is never going to kill anyone so his aggression issues are minimal to us anyway.
anyway...again, sorry for being unclear.


While I agree with you 100% I did want to just remind everyone that we did not send you Fletch because he has behavioural issues - in fact, he was quite dog and people social from the get go. (Never can tell with some of the bully dogs if they are going to remain that way) We sent him because of his chronic health problems which surfaced after his neuter. We take our aggressive or seriously problematic dogs seriously and we do not try to pawn them off on any rescue to avoid making a hard decision ourselves (except for that Shih Tzu. Sorry about that ;-P). We were all very sorry to hear about Fletch and how he turned out :(


Wonderful post !!! I agree 100% and know your job in rescue, is the hardest job of all. You make hard decisions and it takes a very strong person to do so. I really admire you for it.


Carol, not sure if this is appropriate but a few observations.

Dont fret over what you cant change. Agreed that there is a lot (too much) politics in rescue but Im not going to waste my energy fretting over it.

As a wise friend of mine (who use to be in animal control) has said on several occasions, There are worse things than death. Sometimes euthanization is the kindest thing we can do.

If people dont like you thats their problem. As long as you like yourself thats really the only thing that matters. If theyre infringing on your ability to look after the animals you are probably best off without them.

Working with volunteers is a whole lot harder than working with paid employees.