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Disturbing BCSPCA?


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As tragic as this situation sounds, what I saw in the article was that the dog had a bite/aggression history before going to the shelter, bit shelter staff 4 times and then bit the adopter twice during the handover.

The shelter rep talked about having a "moral obligation to protect staff and the public." They also faced the very real threat of legal liability that could potentially have ended up with the facility being shut down if there was a pattern of their adopting dogs with known bite histories out that went on to injure others after adoption.

There's not enough information in the article to know whether the adopters had enough experience to be equipped to work effectively with the dog, or even if the collie rescue was. It doesn't say whether the behavior specialist was called in before or after the final incident took place.

The border collie rescue I volunteer with rarely accepts dogs with known bite histories (unless it's minor nipping) because of the daunting liability issues involved if the dog would ever go on to injure someone else. And we have people who've been fostering difficult dogs, a certified behavior consultant and a veterinarian among our volunteer resources. Still, we'll occasionally end up with a dog that bites and have been faced with the truly gut wrenching decision to euthanize a few dogs because of bites after they're in rescue. No one who does rescue wants to ever have to make that decision and every time I've known it to happen I've been thankful I'm not one of the board of directors who had to.

I guess this case would have to be taken in the context of how many dogs they euthanize on a regular basis and for what reasons. There are some high kill shelters that don't have the resources to cope with the number of even highly adoptable dogs in their care, and a dog with a bite history isn't readily adoptable. At the other end of the spectrum are rescues that are selective in the dogs accepted into their programs and have the resources to offer behavior modification and to maintain the dogs in rescue as long as it takes to find suitable adopters, even if it means the dogs are in rescue for years or even for the remainder of their lifetimes. (The one I volunteer with doesn't accept dogs with bite histories but also doesn't turn dogs away for health reasons or because of age. Some essentially become hospice dogs and others rack up thousands in medical care.) I'm sure there's a pretty wide range in between. 

Honestly, with the minimal information available in this article, I'd have to say the outcome was heartbreaking but understandable.

Regarding their training standards, accreditation and referrals, there isn't enough information in the link for me to form any opinions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would have to agree with Gentlelake, there just is not enough information about the severity of the bite history. Shelters when adopting walk a fine line and cant win, they get bad press in a case like this, but on the other side shelters have been publicly lambasted for adopting dogs out that have gone on and bitten. The rescue I used to volunteer with would take border collies that had bitten but were very careful to understand the context of the bite before agreeing to take them on. There was a scary incident where a dog who we knew had shown aggression but the rescue boss had evaluated him a year earlier and thought in a new home he would be fine, first family would not agree to give him up then, but a year later they realized they could not cope, his first night with an experienced fosterer he went for her, her forearm needed surgery. We all still believe that if he had come into rescue a year earlier at 18 months he would have been fine, but another year in his original home made things worse and had a very sad ending. 

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