Animal lovers protest in front of a Las Vegas shelter run by the Animal Foundation

NEWS AND OPINION: This is about a dog but it could equally be about a cat. The same issue of rescue animal character assessment by shelter staff presents itself all the time. The picture shows a group of animal lovers protesting in front of an animal shelter run by an organisation called the Animal Foundation. As I recall, this is a very large shelter. The Animal Foundation runs the Las Vegas, Nevada, public shelter under contract with the local authority.

Animal lovers protest in front of the Las Vegas shelter run by the Animal Foundation
Animal lovers protest in front of the Las Vegas shelter run by the Animal Foundation. Image: From Nathan Winograd’s website and email. I don’t know the photographer.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The reason why the protest happened is because the shelter wanted to put down a dog, Chaze, whereas an animal rescue group, Home 4 Spot, wanted to take the dog out of the shelter and look after him because they felt that he could be adopted whereas the shelter listed the dog for humane euthanasia on the basis that they were unadoptable. Home 4 Spot works with the Animal Foundation or they did until this dispute. Diana England of Home 4 Spot says that The Animal Foundation has terminated their agreement because of the pressure she applies to the foundation to get the dog out.

It’s a rather strange story because the shelter refused to give up the dog to this rescue organisation to give the dog a chance. They would rather kill the dog.

The reason they say for their decision is that The Animal Foundation “has a responsibility to the community not to release dogs that are presented, in multiple instances, to be dangerous”. They feel that this particular dog is dangerous based upon “a behaviour assessment” and “notes from the person who reported finding the dog, and notes from Animal Protection Officers.”

The dispute between two rescue groups is about whether an individual dog is adoptable or unadoptable based upon an assessment of their behaviour. And how many times have we seen that problem re-enacted?

The problem probably boils down to the fact that it is problematic to assess a dog’s suitability to be adopted based on behaviour in unsettled conditions because their behavior can be dictated by human-created circumstances that are stressful and which leads to the dog responding in way which makes them unadoptable.

As I understand it, one reason why Chaze was assessed as being unadoptable is because he tried to wrestle away from a snare. This would imply that the dog’s inappropriate behaviour was caused by human behaviour that was deemed necessary at the time but which negatively affected Chaze’s behavior. Chaze is scared of leashes and snares.

Another party involved in this dispute, Chris Modgling, with The Doggie Task Force made a record of his attempts to save Chaze.

Modgling said that Chaze had jumped into a stranger’s car on Sunday as volunteer rescuers tried to trap him. The dog appeared to be friendly to the man. He says that the “dog would actually come up to him, eat out of his hand, he had been able to pet it but the minute he would see a leash or anything in relation, the dog would get scared and ran away.”

This, by the way is or was a German Shepherd. I say “was” because I suspect that Chaze has been euthanised by now.

The protesters feel that a mistake has been made. They feel that the dog doesn’t deserve to be euthanised if it hasn’t taken place already. A classic case which illustrates diverging opinion on the character of a rescue animal and how it affects their life chances.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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