Friday, October 15, 2010

Re-Homing Dogs Might Be Best Left To Professionals..

.. or perhaps the best alternative is to just keep your dog.

The Daily Bark is about a dog named Topaz, whose family gave her up when they had to move and for some reason thought they couldn't take her.  News sources do not reveal why.  Maybe they couldn't afford to put her on a plane, maybe the apartment they looked at said no dogs.  Whatever the reason, they found a new home for her.  They did not surrender her to a breed-specific rescue or a shelter, probably with the mistaken idea that if they did that, the dog would die.

Turns out, she might have died anyway.

Flash forward four years after the original owners gave her up, and a lady named Diane Stess-Kirschner found the little Lhasa Apso dirty and distressed, wandering alone.  She picked the dog up and took her in for a vet check, only to have the vet discover the dog had a microchip.  The microchip information still linked her to her original family.

Stess-Kirschner used Facebook to search for the family after internet searches turned up nothing.  Seconds later, Topaz's original owner sent a message back asking about Topaz.  Stess-Kirschner had the dog cleaned up and groomed, and bought her a plane ticket to California, to her original owners, who decided that they wanted her back.

They learned a lesson everyone who even thinks about obtaining a dog should know:  You have no idea what actually happens to a dog once you decide to get rid of it.  Many shelter dogs are surrendered by home 3 or 4, and by that time, nobody knows who original owners were, or what reason home #2 had for giving her up, or even how many homes they've gone through.  You might think you've given the dog to a great home that will love her forever, but the truth is, now that you've "gotten rid" of the dog, the chances of it landing in a shelter have just skyrocketed.  Topaz was lucky.  Most of them end up put to sleep.

I had just this argument with a lady one day in the store, and I was not sorry for the distress I caused her.  She stood in front of the puppy window while her teenaged daughter threw a temper tantrum about wanting a puppy she had only laid eyes on 10 minutes before, and she told me, "I've already gotten her three dogs that I got rid of because she wouldn't take care of them."  Her daughter was doing things like stomping her Ugg booted feet and screeching things such as, "I don't CARE!  Mooo OOOM!  I WANT her!  I don't CARE!  You HAVE to get her for me!"

I was aghast.  I couldn't believe she'd thrown away three dogs.  What lesson was that teaching her daughter about the value of life?  These are the types of people who can't believe it when their kid ends up terminating an unwanted secret pregnancy by throwing the minutes-old infant in a dumpster.  And they wonder why.  Anyway I decided right then and there that she wans't getting one of my dogs, because we all know what the outcome would have been.  Insipid Teenaged Daughter would have ceased to care about the puppy by week four, and when "You have to take care of your dog," was used as a reason for Insipid Teenaged Daughter to not go somewhere Stupid Parent didn't want her to go instead of "Because I'm your mother and I said so, damnit," the response would have been, "I don't want that dog."  And out the door the dog would have gone, supposedly to teach Insipid Teenaged Daughter a lesson about responsibility that would have been best taught when she was 5 using inanimate possessions in her room, not with a live being.

I was still mulling over how to get out of selling her dog when my loud mouth did the job for me.  I went to the register and told someone, I don't even remember who at this point, about what I'd just heard.  Something to the effect of, "This stupid woman has thrown away three dogs because her stupid daughter won't take care of them and she's about to try and do it again!"

Well, her son was standing nearby and heard me say it, and told Stupid Parent, who hunted me down to inform me that, "I cared about EVERY SINGLE ONE of my dogs!  I cared enough to find them good homes instead of taking them to a shelter!  I demand an apology!"

My response?  "No, you did not care, or you would not have given them up in the first place.  And there's no guarantee that any of those dogs aren't dead right now because you didn't care."

Well she certainly didn't like that and stormed out in a huff and probably called the owner to tell him what a horrible person I was for telling her the truth she didn't want to hear about herself and what she'd done.  But it's true.  Once you give a dog up, you have no idea what happens to it.  People lose touch, or never bother to touch base ever again.  Granted, finding a home for a dog yourself is a much better alternative to just dumping it in the street, but as Topaz's story shows, there's no saying that won't happen to the dog in a few years anyway.

Keep the dog.  There is very rarely a circumstance that really requires you to give up an animal, if you're just willing to put a little effort into it.  If you're truly concerned enough that the dog gets a good home that you won't let a rescue or a shelter find it for you, then you know in your heart you should keep the dog.


  1. Even though I am heavily involved in rescue, when neighbors come up to me and ask if I can help them "get rid of" their dogs... I still hesitate, and cringe.

    I just don't understand this mentality of "its too hard, it has to go" because taking care of three dogs + 1 foster IS HARD. I changed my entire life for them. And they aren't going anywhere.

    Most people want to throw their unwanteds at me and never look back.
    Craigslist is a creepy place to rehome a pet. Petfinder's classifieds give me the same creepy vibe. And most rescues are so overwhelmed because most people aren't rescuing due to money issues that they turn down more dogs than historically they did.

    It really is EASIER to keep the dog!

  2. Craigslist is just creepy period. The "exotic massage" ads all over it put me off right away, and then even more after that chick was killed by the guy who answered the ad for her "massage services." I once saw an ad for like 300 pounds of chicken. No lie. The first thing I thought was that someone who worked at Perdue was stealing meat. 300 pounds? Really? Sounds all kinds of receiving stolen property to me. Does Cragislist have any type of moderation at all? 'Cuz I thought live animals were not ever supposed to be there for any reason, and yet there they are. On another blog I follow, people were in an uproar because they had placed "Free To Good Homes" kittens ads on Craigslist, only to find out later that the lady who showed up to give their kittens good homes was actually turning around and re-selling them to make a profit. Well what do you expect when you try to re-home animals via Craigslist?! They're lucky that lady got them, and not dog fighting rings looking for bait animals.