breathe deeply...think clearly...and open up our rescue minds.
Carol · Nov. 24, 2014
hysteria sometimes runs rampant in rescue....we hear something from someone and we tell someone else and suddenly the floodgates open and all kinds of assumptions and opinions flow... drowning all rational thought and critical thinking skills out.
you can tell folks that the internet is not always the best and most accurate source of information...and intellectually they know this. but when the witch hunt is on to knock down a rescue..it suddenly becomes as true as can possibly be.
i read some of these posts and see so much incorrect, misused, misinformed, inflammatory information...this current example is of a rescue with outside kenneled dogs who bark and howl for long periods day and night driving the neighbors insane.
now it is no longer about a rescue who is not respectful of the neighbors needs for some peace and quiet..it has become about abuse and neglect, poor adoption and fostering policies. people who obviously know little about housing large groups of dogs suggest that because the dogs are noisy, they are being neglected and abused.
how many folks have been to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah..one of the largest and most respected animal sanctuaries/animal advocacy groups in north america? i worked there for a couple of weeks just before i opened saints on a job trial. it is a very noisy place AND the staff and volunteers are NOT allowed to stop the dogs from barking, from howling, from fence fighting or digging holes. do you know why they are not allowed to interfer? because all of those things are normal dog behaviors that most dogs actually enjoy. shelter dogs confined to single or communal kennels are on their own to amuse themselves for many hours a day. at Best Friends..the staff are there from 9 am til 5 pm and they have an average of 30 dogs to spend time with and care for in an 8 hour day. from 5 pm until 9am the next morning the dogs are on their own for the rest of the night and early morning day. even if you were a very great and dedicated shelter the MOST walks a dog is going to get is 4 one hour walks/one on onetime every day...and even that is a great big stretch. each dog has 20 hours a day to fill up...why not make some noise to liven up the day. Best Friends lets them do dog stuff including making noise because they do not have any neighbors to bug. but no one accuses best friends of neglecting or abusing animals because they live in kennels..some communally, some in isolation...some have access to indoor runs..communally or in isolation...some live in pens with dog houses communally or in isolation, most of them barking their fool heads off...BECAUSE..... Best Friends houses a great many homeless dogs with time and space and staff and hours in a day..stretched to maximum use caring for all of those homeless dogs.
does being on your own for 20 hours a day kind of suck?..sure it does. but that is the reality for most homeless dogs in good shelters...they get good food, clean dry beds, maybe some toys and friends to play with if they are lucky. they get good medical care, a few hours of intermittent walks or attention each day and then they are on their own until the next the day.
this is what happens to dogs not lucky enough to have good homes but lucky enough to at least have a shelter home and not be sick, abused or starving out on the street. and that is why we actually search for homes for them because living in a shelter may be ok but it ain't all that great AND some other poor helpless dog would like a vacated shelter space to get off the street and into at least some kind and compassionate care.
anyway..my point is..it is fine and dandy to sit in a computer chair 400 miles away from the action with one or two or 3 rescue dogs and tell everyone who will read your words everything that is horribly wrong with a shelter.
Best Friends might tell you that i am wrong because i do not let our dogs bark continuously, i don't like them digging holes and i hate the 6 am howling chorus that they all love so well so i sleep even in the heat of the summer with all doors and windows closed to keep the din IN.
i get the dogs like all these things but since our dogs have someone around them 24/7 i think they can find other fun things that do not bug me so much to do.
respectfully, from the dog point of view...dogs speak..they have voices they like to use just like i do. and they actually speak far less in a day than i do. however..in concern for my ears and my neighbors sanity...i make them be quiet for predictable long periods by making them stay inside and refusing to let visitors on site when i need the dogs to be quiet for awhile.
everyone has an opinion about everything..people who do not run or work in shelters have no idea what sheltering dogs really means. people who have experience with one or two dogs at a time, do not understand what 10 or 12 dogs together might mean. people who actually don't do rescue have no idea what challenges rescues/shelters face in caring for many animals that other people tossed away.
the shelter experience ain't all roses and champagne..not for the people on the front lines and not for the animals either. we all have to make compromises and concessions on the ideals that all of us want to live up to...but good luck with that.
does that make it neglect or abuse?...sometimes. rescues can and do suck if the basic needs of the animals are not met. but if that is the case, then you ask the authorities to investigate, not throw out all kinds of real or imaginary accusations on a rescue forum.
no one who works, lives and breathes in any kind of shelter or rescue is going to say it is easy. that it can be perfect in every way because that is just utterly stupid. the dogs do not have homes fer chrissakes..they are living in a shelter that struggles with space and budget constraints..sometimes facilities are poorly planned due to idealistic head in the cloud dreams and not so much on the realities of a bunch of bored dogs hanging out in shelters waiting for good homes to arrive...life in the sun is kind of on hold.
honestly..most folks in rescue really are doing the best that they can with what god gave them for smarts, what they learned from experience, from trial and error, and from learning from others (if they are open to learning anything at all, sadly some folks think it is better to already know it all.)...very few are in it because they get a kick out of making unhappy dogs.
if we just stop taking personal pot shots...concentrate on talking about issues..like the challenges in shelter housing of multiple homeless dogs..all of us might learn something new. if not actual solutions..maybe just understanding how complicated are some of these issues.