The vast numbers of complaints I’ve had about this post intrigue me. I wonder how many people actually read the whole thing, and how many made up their minds about what I was going to say based on the title and just skipped the 500 words to fire off a comment.
So I’m adding some clarification upfront. I love dogs. I have a shelter dog whom I love dearly. I think people who are prepared to have a shelter dog should definitely get one. But I think the world needs to see shelters as more than just the puppy clearance rack. Because I know too many people who DON’T love dogs but get a shelter dog anyway. And they treat them cruelly. That’s my point.
And for all of you who assume I’m not a dog person, I suggest you read some of the entries archived here about Casey.
For years I’ve heard people begging and pleading for people to adopt shelter dogs and save them from certain death. I can’t even bear to recount the sad-eyed photos and adverts I’ve seen pleading on behalf of these woeful creatures. The mere thought of them makes me want to vomit from choked-on tears. I cannot bear it.
I’ve long been an advocate of people getting “wanted” dogs from a reputable breeder.
Now, more than ever, I am pleading with the general population to NOT ADOPT A SHELTER DOG.
We adopted a shelter dog three weeks ago. Gob (pronounced as the Biblical character of suffering) is the new light of my life. Every day he surprises me with a new quirk to his personality. His obvious sense of humour makes me laugh. His bottomless wellspring of affection melts my heart every time he springs into my lap for a round of wiggly cuddling and kissing.
But he has problems. He has abandonment issues, insecurities and an obvious lame back leg. Each little quirk is like a shadow of the horrors he lived in the the long hard months before being literally pulled off death row by Kimber’s Kritters. Being Gob’s parent takes a lot of work. It takes a person like me who is definitely a dog person, who relates to dogs the way others relate to children.
Today Gob ate something he shouldn’t have and while waiting for the vet’s office to open I perused the internet to see if this was common and if I should be worried. (Yes. No. And he’s okay.) But in the reading I saw several people bemoaning the horrible dogs they got from a shelter because they wanted a dog but didn’t want to spend a lot of money.
There’s apparently this misconception out there that a shelter dog is like the Wal-Mart version of the family puppy. You can’t afford the boutique thing? You think paying more than a thousand dollars for a dog is wrong? Well just get you down to the pound and pick out one of those cheap fellas! You can get yerself a fine dog for fifty bucks!
No. Just. No. It doesn’t work like that. It shouldn’t work like that.
Shelter dogs are expensive.
It may not cost a lot to acquire one, but it could well cost much more over the life span of the dog. There are veterinary expenses, training expenses and the inevitable cost of the things in your home the dog just might destroy before he gets housetrained, chew-trained and cured of anxiety.
If you adopt a shelter dog and it doesn’t work out, you may be killing it faster than it would have been killed without your ‘help’.
Thousands of shelter dogs are short-placed every year. That means that someone adopts them, takes them home for a few days and then realises they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew. So the dog is taken back to the shelter from whence it came. In many cases these dogs are then considered unplaceable and bumped up the kill list. It would have been kinder for the poor thing to have been left alone instead of being taken to a new “home” where the anxieties were ratcheted up.
So please. I beg you.
Unless you are very much aware of what you are getting into, don’t get a puppy from the pound. They deserve better. And from what I’ve read, in many of the cases of bad short placements, death would be better than the false reprieve these animals get from cheap, unprepared folks who want a family pet complete with shortcuts.