• George Halet

    October 8, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    My favorite dogs to interact with as a shelter volunteer are the bully dogs, for their goofiness and confidence. I had a couple back when I lived in the country in Canada and they were so much fun.
    However, knowing what I know now, especially thanks to watching Foundation 4.0, I would be much more careful about adopting another pittie – due to the higher consequences of errors. I don’t love them any less, but I respect the need for skilled handling more.

    I spent a week at Best Friends in Kanab last year and, if I were a dog, it’s not a bad place to be, with plentiful volunteers for walks and big outdoor runs. I would prefer it to being isolated in a suburban home, as happens to so many of my neighbors’ dogs.

    BFAS is a pretty effective publicity machine and they must have made compromises to have achieved that. On the other hand, besides running the sanctuary, they are driving for all shelters to achieve “no kill” (> 90%) status by 2025 and part of that initiative is counseling shelters on how to get there. My impression is that they are a net positive influence.

    But I take your point, there is kind of an unfortunate religious fervor at BFAS (and the Humane Society where I volunteer) around:

    • not discriminating against pit bulls
    • not using punishment in training
    • not believing in the existence of dominance (I love the simplicity of “first right to limited resources” and thinking of it as a parental role – thank you Mike for having ethology as a foundation)

    Looking at the bigger picture, focusing on adopting out dogs in shelters is an end-of-pipe solution (i.e. does not address the root cause), but I don’t know what a feasible model would be for large-scale dog “production”.
    Let’s say these wishes came true:

    • All the puppy mills and sloppy back yard breeders disappeared.
    • Only competent, humane breeders raised dogs and they selected for temperament and health over appearance.
    • Breeders would not sell the wrong breed to consumers, or sell companion dogs to people who did not have the appropriate resources (time, money, knowledge).

    This would happen: there would not be enough dogs to go around, or they would be so expensive that much fewer people could enjoy the benefits of living with dogs.
    I am left to conclude that the existing model of inexpensive over-production of dogs and the need to euthanize the excess capacity/defectives is the inevitable consequence of our priorities.

    What should be the cradle-to-grave vision for making the right dogs widely available to people that minimizes suffering on either end? And what is the most effective way to get there?
    Are we actually on a decent trajectory and it’s gradually happening?