Animal shelters in delicate position | AspenTimes.com

Animal shelters in delicate position

Dear Editor:I am saddened to read about the controversy at Colorado Animal REscue regarding the “Katrina dogs.” I believe that everyone involved is trying to do their best for the animals but that when emotions run high, sometimes we can lose sight of our goals.All animal shelters are in a delicate position in that they want to find homes for all homeless pets but some animals are simply not safe to place in the community. Colorado Animal REscue has procedures in place to temperament-test all dogs that come through the shelter. This test involves petting, checking teeth, handling, a hug, reaction to a fast moving object, possession issues, reaction to a stranger, and cats. No dog is temperament-tested until after the length of time it needs to settle into its new environment; that might be a day, a week, or in the case of special-needs dogs, even more.The temperament test is performed because all of the actions above will happen in a pet’s home. The shelter needs to be sure that when these things happen, people and animals in and around that home will be safe.The question all shelter staff must ask themselves is, “Would I want my next-door neighbor to have this dog?” If the answer is no, the dog must not go into a home. While there are sanctuaries that will take aggressive dogs and maintain them for life, decent ones are few and far between and almost always full.The reality is that some dogs are not suitable for adoption and must be euthanized. This is never an easy decision! It is hard on everyone involved and at the core of the oxymoron of shelter work. Some dogs are saved, and some are killed. The emotional burden on all is extreme, but we must maintain sight of the goal. The goal is that adopting a shelter dog should be a surefire way of finding a great pet for life. If errors are made, we must err on the side of safety!I have been involved with Colorado Animal REscue since its construction and am the chair of the Problems and Solutions Committee. This committee was originally called the Euthanasia Committee, but as we worked through various situations we discovered that we could, more often than not, come up with solutions other than euthanasia. In some cases there is no other option, but whenever possible we find other solutions. No one wants to kill dogs. We all love dogs! We also have a responsibility to you, the public, to be sure that the dogs you adopt are friendly and safe. Laura Van DyneCarbondale