This was Linda. She spent five months with a Colorado rescue group, living with and playing with other dogs without incident.
After adoption, the family, who had her for one year, surrendered Linda to a local pound. The family claimed she had incidents with other dogs. The rescue group which originally placed her wanted her back. The pound said no. They ultimately did return her — in a garbage bag.
Since the mid-1990s, I have been working to make it illegal for pounds to kill animals when qualified rescue groups are willing to save them. Such laws have saved over 1,000,000 animals, who otherwise would have been killed. But not in Colorado. And not in other places.
And unfortunately, with the growing success of the No Kill movement, regressive national and state groups and the pounds they enable are fighting back and growing more vindictive; calling on pounds to kill more dogs under the guise of “concerning behavior,” telling rescue groups not to bother saving them (or refusing to let them do so), and even telling people to kill their own dogs.
I am not suggesting that shelters adopt out dogs declared “dangerous” with indifference to public safety. I am, however, suggesting that these groups are killing dogs by falsely labeling them as “aggressive” and denying rescue groups the ability to help them.
I am also suggesting that they are promoting a very dangerous idea for those dogs who do have challenges; the idea that dogs who have suffered trauma, abuse, neglect, or have a genetic predisposition to fear should not be rehabilitated, treated with kindness, compassion, and given the opportunity to heal, but killed, despite scholarship and evidence to the contrary.
Helping these dogs is our duty as a society; a duty that is compounded by the fact that we — as humans — are often responsible for their condition through our neglect, abuse, and undersocialization. This is true even if their behavioral pathology is not related to outside factors (such as abuse) because there is a solution.
Rest in peace Linda. The pound failed you. The State of Colorado failed you. The movement that was supposed to protect you failed you. And the groups that fundraise by promising to help you, but choose to further harm you, failed you.
They also failed the rescue group that tried to save Linda. Which is another reason we need rescue rights laws across the country. Animal rescuers are already donating their time, their energy, their resources and their love to make our world a better place. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice their emotional well-being, too.
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