This afternoon, I was reminded that as humans, we are susceptible to making mistakes. Arriving home from a drive thru, I was shorted medium size tatter tots. Most mistakes are innocuous and cause little or no harm.
One of the greatest stresses of running an animal shelter is that you’ve entered a profession that has little room for mistakes. Mistakes can throw off drug counts, cause the over (or under) vaccination of an animal and can even cause the death of an animal. You cannot “undo” many of the mistakes that are available to us in this profession. As an old carpenter would tell you, “measure twice, cut once.” It doesn’t hurt to have three eyes on everything that you do.
There is nothing worse that to accidently euthanize an owner’s pet. For that reason, I would not allow any animal to be euthanized until I looked at the animal and checked it against our records. We live in a business in which there exist so many similar looking animals, that you can NEVER be too careful.
With increasing pressure to maintain high release rates, many animal shelters will fail to report prior dog bites to prospective adopters. This became such a problem in the Commonwealth of Virginia that a law had to be enacted to force shelters to come forward with an animal’s previous aggressive history.
I experienced this myself, working in Virginia, in which volunteers would attempt to bully me and my staff into ignoring the behaviors that we witnessed, so as to keep the animal on track for adoption. Because I felt I had a higher calling to protect the public from aggressive animals, the volunteers pushed for my removal.
I am dumbfounded by the thought process that would hide such information from a perspective adopter. Commonsense should have prevailed in warning a person about a pet’s previous behavior. But, when it comes to saving animals, commonsense is not so common. Animal Advocates believe that the life of an animal is a higher priority that the safety of a person, family, or the community.
I find it extremely troubling that it was necessary to force a moral obligation on animal shelters; however, I applaud the Commonwealth for making it necessary for shelters to do the right thing. Think of the legal ramifications and potential loss of life if shelters were allowed to continue pushing aggressive animals to people.