I am A Canine Caretaker at a high volume animal shelter! Ask me anything!
Hey everybody My names Devin, I currently work for an animal shelter in the midwest and we’ve been dealing with an overwhelmingly high number of animals with behavior issues lately and I find myself answering questions for family and friends often about what they want to know in this field. I’ve worked here for about 2 years now and have worked with thousands of dogs. Most leave the shelter but unfortunately a lot don’t so i’m here to spread awareness for these challenges and answer any questions! I will go ahead and give a heads up and say that Behavioral euthanasia will most certainly be talked about in the comments so if you don’t feel comfortable with these topics i understand!
I’m at work today as well so i will answer questions when i have time but plan on doing this all night and as long as it takes!
UPDATE: Due to all the hateful comments and arguments being started about pits i’m done with this IAmA. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you RESPECTFULLY ask in my DM, I’ll come back to the post and answer possibly just not live anymore. Thank you all for the questions and i loved getting to talk to you. here’s your reward Puppy Tax
So personally our shelter doesn’t normally label the breeds, we are legally obligated to follow what’s on their rabies tags. i’ve seen labs labeled as pits stay in shelters for months because of a damn rabies tag. They absolutely sugar coat things as well because atleast at our shelter they are written by volunteers. but we our required here to read you all of their behavior notes not sugar coated!
The claim that all shelter dogs have behavioral issues or are surrendered due to behavior problems is patently false. You can’t possibly believe that. We get dogs surrendered due to a HUGE variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the animal at all - the owner’s housing insecurity or change in housing that does not allow pets, death of an owner, owner’s health, divorce, caring for an ill family member, need to work a second job so not enough time at home, accidentally had a litter and don’t have space for 7 puppies, the list is truly endless. C’mon, there is no need to paint all shelter dogs with the same brush.
Maybe that's your belief but there have been studies done by the behavior science community that show that dogs that are well socialized, are bonded to their owners and do not have behavior issues are far less likely to be surrendered to a shelter or rescue.
far less likely to be surrendered to a shelter or rescue.
does not equal
well-behaved dogs with no behavior issues don't end up in shelters
I had a beagle who had been returned to a rescue twice. Why? Because the adopters' kids couldn't understand that if you put your nose to his, he would nip. Took about a year but I broke him of that until we slept nose-to-nose. Otherwise, he was the most perfect dog you could ever hope for.
alright i’ll do one for you. What about a sweet full bred golden retriever? No behavior issues and went home with kids, cats and dogs. why’d she come in? the owner died and the kids didn’t want her.
Hi Devin, thanks for this AMA.
What sort of timeframe is "lately", and, based on your experience, what sorts of things might be contributing to the increase in behavioral issues? Plus, if you happen to have any further reading handy, I'd be curious to learn more.
So I’d say “lately” as more of the last 6 months to a year? Which i know is more of a wider range of time but it’s honestly been ever since covid 19 sent us into lockdown. When people realized they had to stay at home 24/7 a lot of people were bored and decided to adopt puppies they weren’t prepared for. So about 3-6 months after people started going back to work we started having plenty of returns/owner surrenders from other shelters. Basically all these people were returning dogs they felt they didn’t have the time or commitment for but a good 80% of these dogs were covid puppies. Unfortunately for covid puppies they missed out on a lot of normal puppy activities. One of the most important ages for dogs is the 2-5 month range and that’s because they socialize with other dogs and people very well at that age and they absorb more information and training, but with most of these dogs passing by that age in isolation without meeting any strangers or other dogs they’ve built up these fears of them instead. So we’ve had a lot of challenging cases of stranger danger and dog reactivity. Basically if you were to walk through the backside of the shelter you’d think dogs were fighting because of how reactive some of these dogs are.
as for extra reading i’ll try to look into that for more concrete information for you all but basically dogs who missed out on their socialization window deal with more aggression and fear based reactivity.
Statistically, aren’t returns/surrenders in line with precovid years? I believe stray populations are up and adoptions are down cuz everyone is poor as shit right now (high intake southwest shelter worker here).
Statistically speaking yes! But we have 50 applications on file for surrender right now that we can’t accept due to space. I started working in a shelter after covid so i can say if it’s changed much at all. I’d say more often than not we’ve been getting barely older than a year dogs surrendered more than anything else so that’s where i was basing my info! thank you for the correction!
Gotcha. I worked open intake so we didn’t get to cork the dam much.
I applaud you for working open intake. it takes a will of iron. I’m thankful but wish i could do more
Oh, I quit cuz I couldn’t take it any more so I applaud you for staying lol.
Hey i don’t know how long i’ll be able to do it but i’ll do it till i can’t. It’s been a long hard week and that’s why i wanted to do this!
What is open intake?
My shelter you have to put applications in to surrender dogs but we do take any strays in 3 towns around us, we also get dogs transferred in from other shelters. open intake shelters can’t say no to anyone wanting to drop off any dog they found/lie about what the dog did and they just assume it’s a stray. It’s a lot more crazy and insane in open intake shelters. A lot more euthanasias
Shelters are housing more dogs than they can safely handle. There pay is pretty terrible too, so there’s an underwhelming number of caretakers per dog. Dogs aren’t getting out enough or enough enrichment thus behavior issues pop up. Once they are there… without a foster home, it only gets worse
Thankfully at my shelter we’re closed admission but at the same time it hurts more than it’s helps because management limits what dogs we can take in. The pay is very much subpar and i can barely afford housing in my area. Staffing is a huge issue too. our team is supposed to have 10 people and we’ve gone through 25 people in 2 years. We try to get our dogs out 3 times a day but that’s still 23 hours in kennels and it drives them crazy. Fosters are so important for that very reason!! and enrichment!!
The pay is honestly offensive for the work shelter staff are expected to put it and is a major player in why turnover is sooo high.
and is a major player in why turnover is sooo high.
That, and most people have absolutely no idea what it's like to work in a kennel environment like that. Same with dog daycares.
You get people thinking they're going to be able to cuddle dogs all day, when the reality is there is so much cleaning and maintenance you're more of a janitor than anything.
Exactly! you’re there for the care of the animals not to cuddle them, occasionally that’s included but not as often as you think.
What's your happiest memory of working in the shelter? ( A HUGE THANK YOU for all you do for shelter animals)
When Our rescue huskies Rex and Fiona went home, they were with us for over a year and went from being scared of everything to a happy bonded pair. they were rescued from a puppy mill that we helped rescue after getting shut down. They were a miracle case with like 20 restrictions and we had people literally build a 7 foot fence at a new property because they wanted them that bad.
I've been hearing a little bit about cage free shelters, like the Best Friends Pet Resource Center in Arkansas. A lot of the claims for cage-free say that the traditional cage shelter format wears on dogs mental health and can cause behavior issues, and that cage free institutions also create a more welcoming environment that people would be more willing to visit (I can personally attest to the number of times someone's told me they could never go to a shelter, because it's just too depressing).
Have you heard of the cage free format? What's your opinion on it?
I honestly love the idea of cage free and hadn’t heard of it before! I do believe it majorly effects dogs mental health and their brains deteriorate faster, especially when the shelter is louder than normal. My shelter is pretty large and has a lot of funding over the years for upgrades so ours is much more welcoming than a pound environment but I understand that when coming to a shelter it’s very hard to see. The only problem with cage free i see would be for dogs who personally cannot handle other dogs being around them and don’t interact well with dogs but besides that it’s great!
How do you deal with the emotional pain of seeing dogs being abandoned/returned by owners who didn’t realize how difficult training a dog would be? How do you deal with the reality that not all dogs will be taken? If you don’t euthanize, what happens to dogs that get too old/sick?
Honestly? A lot of crying. this week alone I had to say goodbye to atleast 8 of some of our longest term dogs who had been returned and either had an bite in the home due to an unseen factor, gotten out and interacted with dogs poorly, and or had been returned and had been on their last strike kinda deal. I understand that people can’t always keep the dog ESPECIALLY when it’s unsafe for your family or current dog. It’s just hard seeing the dog you know CAN be perfect acting poorly with someone new and unfortunately being euthanized. Unfortunately I love hard and when i do it’s typically the ones who don’t make it, as my fiancé would say you see the good in the job and the work you do instead of the bad but you always keep your heart open. and we have a full service vet clinic with two vets so we do our best to try everything before euthanasia.
As someone who ended up with a problem dog, it took a ton of training and work to get him to a place where he's a normal-ish dog. I wouldn't wish it on anyone and I definitely won't do it again. That being said, you sound like a saint yourself to care for and help these dogs.
it’s a commitment and i’ll never sugar coat it when it comes to long term or behavioral dogs. because i’d rather them stay in the shelter waiting for somebody who was prepared for them than them get adopted and returned then euthanized because it wasn’t the right environment and they acted out. it’s hard hard work
I understand some of the hoops that people have to jump through to adopt, but at a certain point it's just not economical. I've seen stipulations such as no children, no other pets, fenced in yard, home visit required, $500 adoption fee. At a certain point it almost seems better to buy a puppy from a breeder and give them a better home than just allowing them to end up in a shelter and then be euthanized because people don't meet the requirements. I live on two acres, alone, and have three neighbors within a mile and none have dogs that I'm aware of. I work from home yet I can't justify the expenditure to fence the yard, even a small section with post Covid fence prices. What do you think would be the best way to resolve this?
Honestly? go to a different shelter. We’ve never had an adoption fee over $250 here. We’ve had a miracle case (in another comment) rex and fiona had the following restrictions. No children, no other dogs, must meet all family members, must have a 6 foot fence and another im pretty sure. But they were puppy mill rescue huskies that had to go home together and only liked eachother. Most times if dogs have a no kids and no other dogs restrictions they are worried about over arousal incidents and such. I understand those but home visits and a fee that high is too much.
I honestly think the fee is that high because they have so many restrictions, they can't get rid of dogs and have to charge more to pay the bills and it's circular logic. Charge more, can't adopt out dogs, charge more, can't adopt out more dogs. Somehow this shelter got french bulldog puppies and the adoption fee was $2500.
that’s absurd, no we have a flat rate adoption fee for adults, and for puppies (which is higher due to more shots and medical care!) and seniors are like $25 so we can get them into a home. We also run all kinds of specials with adoption promos for holidays for discounted adoptions. That’s a poor practice in my opinion.
I also struggled finding a dog because I wanted a small dog and I’m in an apartment and I was on wait lists for dogs with fees $500-$600. I went to a municipal shelter 2 hours drive away instead and got my dog on sale for $100 (2 year old mini cockapoo) and they literally asked me no questions and let me go home with him same day. So it totally was overcrowded shelter v. Rescue group.
I will say my dog has not been an easy rescue (super reactive and super bad separation anxiety) so take that with a grain of salt. I’m 10 months in to owning him and he’s finally getting settled down with LOTS of work training to get where we are now.
I used to look at rescues, and I gave up after the hoops they wanted me to go through. One of them wanted three in-home visits at the foster families home and a letter of reccomendation from my vet. I don't have a family vet because I don't have a damn dog lol. It's funny because I actually work with a lot of veterinarians in my job and could easily get 30+ of them to sign something. I'd also prefer to get siblings for when I'm in a conference call and they can entertain each other. I feel like I should be a perfect candidate. I even have a friend 3 miles away who is a dairy farmer, so his family doesn't even know the meaning of vacation, so I'd have a sitter whenever needed.
That’s ridiculous, the only thing i would say is not to get siblings! it sounds great and fun but do a little research on littermate syndrome! one of the restrictions that every puppy has at our shelter is they cannot go home with a littermate to prevent littermate syndrome! two puppies from different litters is fine though here already!
First, THANK YOU for taking care of these animals. I found a stray German Shepherd mix and had to take her to the shelter. She ended up getting an URI while there. I asked them to call me if she was hitting the end of the line. I picked her back up on the 24th to foster because I couldn't let her die (she is a very sweet girl who just wanted some love). I don't know how you do this everyday. Where do you find the mental strength?
Fortunately we don’t euthanize off length of stay so i never have like a timer counting down to get them home we euthanize off behavioral and extreme medical. Fostering is so important so thank YOU! Honestly Most of us who work in animal welfare have extreme mental issues of our own as i personally struggle with anxiety/ADD and seasonal depression. At the same time you come together to do what’s best and just fight to keep going.
Hi Devin! Thanks for doing this, I actually have a burning question!
Last week we adopted a six month old husky mix. She was so sweet, loved our other dog, perfect in every way, except she had an appetite for cats. After doing a little research, with much shame and regret, we decided it would be best to return her for their safety. We took her back, adopted a different pup and this one is wonderful with them.
But I can't stop thinking about poor Bella. Hopefully she has a note on her file now saying "don't mix with cats," but...does that hurt her chances for readoption? We gave her glowing reviews on all other behavior, but I worry this one strike will count against her. She's such a good dog, she deserves a home. With no cats.
On a related note, should I be disappointed in the shelter staff for equivocating when asked about the cat situation? No less than five people assured us that all dogs are different and it would probably be fine. One quick Google proves this not to be true. Should they have known better?
Edit: Puppy tax
So this is actually crazy that you asked this but I had the same situation happen to me almost to the T. We have a hound named phoebe. she dealt with hella separation anxiety and chewed our walls while she was teething and i hate crating so we let her😂. She was about 5 months old when she kept doing it, so we got her an older dog to learn from (also named bella!) and the only problem with Bella was.. when we took her home, she tried to eat our cats😂 we had 3 so that was an issue and what i saw in that one night was a prey drive that was not compatible with my lifestyle and wouldn’t ease without lots and lots of training which i couldn’t give, so we brought her back sobbing the whole time with the same thoughts as you. she went back inside and we had to pick out a new dog, i was worried i’d have to see her for weeks in a kennel but she got adopted that very next day. So i’d say don’t worry too too much because often most people don’t have cats! But we leave the restriction of no cats for those dogs so they can protect their cats at home if they do! as for the shelter staff i certainly would’ve recommended another dog than a 6 month old husky that are known to have high prey drives. I’ll post puppy tax when i’m home but it worked out perfectly. bella went home and i have two best friends as pups!
With Missouri being like the puppy mill capital of the world, do you see many sick doodle/frenchie types coming in? Not sure where you are in relation to the mills.
Oh yeah we do, We rescued 55 dogs from a puppy mill of almost entirely frenchies, hounds, and pits and another of entirely doodles and pomskies and huskies. It was rough around those times. We get a pretty steady flow of doodles though! Don’t get doodles please everybody 😂 if you do adopt don’t shop we don’t need more doodles
PITS IN MILLS?! I quit (again).
Yeah it’s ridiculous, and worst part is that mill was in Louisiana where they had a pit bull ban in most of the towns around the mill. but my pup came from said mill so i’m glad we were there to help. she was 2 months old and the runt of her litter with parvo and a uri but she made it and we took her home and she’s spoiled now. I believe out of 55 dogs about 52 of them got a home.
Hi, thank-you for doing this AMA! My question is what is your opinion on BSL. Do you believe some breeds are inherently more aggressive than others? If BSL is not something you believe in, what might you suggest as an alternative to dealing with breeds such as pitbulls, Staffordshire terriers and other fighting dog breeds that have higher bite and mortality statistics? Seeing a lot of shelters are predominantly pits, what might be done to change things in the long run? Lastly, what is your opinion on shelters intentionally mislabeling dog breeds in order to encourage adoptions?
Thank you again for taking The time to do this AMA, any response or opinion is respected.
This is a very good and very important question. I myself don’t believe in BSL i do believe that all pets/furry family members should be spayed/neutered. A lot of that stigma (from what i’ve seen personally i’m not an expert and have no degree) comes from backyard breeders. A lot of backyard breeders will breed these specific breeds especially in low income neighborhoods because that’s what they can rehome easiest i guess. A lot of times when these puppies grow up based off of living conditions as a puppy/trauma and stress on the mother they end up with all sorts of neurological issues. I’ve seen a few dogs come in who we couldn’t find out a trigger for a bite and they would just bite randomly and unfortunately had to be put down. These dogs typically come from high stress environments where they used biting to keep the stress away if that makes sense? Plus a lot of these dogs and such have such triggers that Do cause the statistics to go higher. Plus when it comes to these dogs more bites are reported. I’ve seen probably equal amounts of pitbulls on bite holds as i’ve seen chihuahuas. As for advice i’d say a lot more mental and physical enrichment. My pit bull at home has behavior issues and used to bite when she wanted something but we’ve taught her to bring us toys or ropes instead when she wants something as a way to positively reinforce good behavior. Unfortunately pit bulls will always be the main breed at the shelter due to BSL, backyard breeding and uniformed people who only know of stereotypes. I do hope it gets better though.
I’ve seen probably equal amounts of pitbulls on bite holds as i’ve seen chihuahuas.
Iv always seen this same chain of thought where chihuahuas are just as if not more aggressive then a pitbull. Gotta ask yourself a question though would you rather a chihuahua charge after you or a pitbull charge after you.
When have you ever had a dog charge at your unprovoked? might as well make any animal over 30 pounds extinct! Yeah that’s how i see your chain of thought. Now if you want to a fact, i cleaned up blood off the floors last week from a coworker getting their finger almost torn off by a chihuahua.
When have you ever had a dog charge at your unprovoked?
Yes I have at a young age. If fact it was a pitbull. Had my dad not been there with his gun I don't know how things would have turned out.
Ah thank you, that explains your Bias, I had a great dane wrap his mouth around my head as a toddler. i still think Danes are great ;)
want to know a fact*
What is BSL? There needs to be more education on the breed and how to properly care for them/socialize them. A properly socialized dog of any breed is less likely to end up in a shelter or euthanized for behaviors.
Breed specific legislation, so pit bull bans and breed restrictions! And yes there does need to be more info. Pits were originally family dogs who were protective of their home and family. (great with kids too)
That's just straight up false and a little bit of research would show you that. Way to kill your entire AMA by showing how little you actually know about dogs. You're parroting pro-pit propaganda that you never bothered to check yourself. What other incorrect information are you giving out in this AMA?
i addressed later on my mistake. I know their original intent for breeding. but me Saying they were family dogs is just as reliable as people below saying they were bred for fighting. As i said, i’m a shelter employee of two years, with no degree and no certification. I didn’t claim to know anything, i said “ask me anything”. Now do you have a question? or is this more pit bull hate? if so goodbye
I have a question. What do you think about 6% of dogs, all of one breed, being responsible for 60-80% of unprovoked fatal attacks on humans?
No need to take it personally if people disagree. You're acting pretty aggressive for someone who wanted to be asked anything.
because you all aren’t disagreeing. you’re coming in here with an already made up mind, not wanting to converse, you don’t care about my opinion and nothing i say will ever validate you. If you don’t like pits you don’t, but as somebody who has dealt with 14 dogs being euthanized this week alone not even half were pits and they were all behavioral cases and only 1 bite case lately has been a pit. Work my life and walk in my shoes and you’d see.
There's a lot of pitty haters on reddit, unfortunately.
For a very good reason?
Some dogs are bred for speed, some for maximum sniffing potential, and then there are dogs that were bred for fighting.
In a Nature vs Nurture scenario, why would you risk a pitbull mauling your infant?
There are hundreds of cases where this family dog ended up "snapping" for no reason.
Not more bred for fighting than any other bully breed to my knowledge. THESE day yes, but historically they were hunting and guardian companions. like many other dogs.
Save it, heard it, not interested.
He's right though.
There's a reason why this breed is largely banned worldwide.
Science and statistics speak for themselves.
there is no right and wrong in lives. there is always outliers and without sick human interference they wouldn’t have been bred for fighting whatsoever.
But they WERE bred for fighting. So now what?
they were bred for bull baiting, and holding larger prey down. PEOPLE later on bred them for fighting for sick intents. But a dog does not come out of the womb looking for blood, it comes out with different genetics and different triggers as far as i’m aware- once again a non educated person with two years hands on experience seeing plenty of pits get adopted and plenty get euthanized.
How do you deal with putting dogs down - do you just view it as a necessary part of the job, or does it make it hard to go to work?
Do you ever have to put really good and likable dogs down, or do most of the dogs that get put down have too many behavior issues to live in society?
I don’t put them down myself but i do have the option to attend euthanasia. More often than not if they have somebody else there i won’t go. but if it’s a dog i’m close close with i’m there until the end. it’s a necessary evil and often the dog is more than likely happier without all the stress and pain of shelter life. It makes it impossibly hard to go to work. I’d say most dogs can be good and likeable. sometimes it just hurts too much and there’s too much trauma that they don’t act the same way with me that they do with others and i understand that. typically it’s behavioral and it’s unsafe to adopt them out but i’ve disagreed with numerous euthanasias.
How to take care of canines in summer so that they stay healthy?
So for smaller dogs you’d most likely want to limit how much they’re outside especially in high heat weather with breeds like pugs and boston terriers who struggle with breathing. As for bigger dogs with high energy level most will enjoy the summer weather, just make sure to provide plenty of water and i do doggie popsicles with frozen treats.
For those of us who are unable to physically volunteer at a shelter, what is the best type of support we can provide? Monetary donations, toys, dog food etc?
So if by physically volunteer you mean walking dogs than contact your local shelter and see what their needs are! at our shelter we have volunteers who do dishes, fold laundry to help make set up in the morning go easier, read to the dogs and help out with adoption counseling as well! If you’re physically unable or don’t have a shelter near by that’s perfect as well! Most shelters will have a list of commonly donated items but we often need toys, treats and spray cheese the most if i’m being honest!
To take this in a different direction, would you mind telling me a bit about the canine caretaker profession? What sort of qualifications are involved & would you say it pays a livable wage? Sorry if that's rude to ask. Just curious.
Honestly, an entry level position as a kennel tech doesn’t require much. That’s where i’m at and i got hired with minimal volunteering for the humane society. You can get more behavioral roles working with more training than I do but you typically need your certifications. CPDT-K i believe is the most common one? Honestly the pay will almost always be low as it’s most of the time non profits. I’ll say that in a large city in the midwest I get paid between $14-$17 and barely get by with my partners income as well.
How do you think long stays in shelters impacts the dogs? My recently adopted rescue was in a shelter from age 1-2, and I'd love to know more about how that might have affected her. She's quite nervous and noise sensitive, but it's hard to know if she was always this way. Do you see these kinds of things develop over the course of a dog's stay?
It definitely impacts the dog! I can’t tell you about leaving the shelter and those behaviors as i got my pups when they were young. I have seen dogs before though kinda go crazy in the shelter. Sometimes we have dogs come in shy or friendly and if they don’t leave within around 5-6 months they get stir crazy and some will give up hope and you can see it in their eyes and some start to act out and unfortunately bite sometimes and do have to be put down. dogs need to get out fast but sometimes the shelter is still better than any life that dog has ever known so they don’t know any better and adjust to it better. I hope that answers your question!
Hi Devon I work in rescue in the UK. How annoyed are you by amount of times you have heard the words “separation anxiety” in the last year?
What dogs do you struggle to rehome there? Can you explain to the world why a “border husky” is a nightmare?
Oh my how many times i’ve heard that is crazy. Most often the dog just needs more enrichment. i’ve seen some really bad cases but people have got to realize we didn’t work from home forever. you can train your dog to help them ease into being alone without you. We struggle to rehome pits, huskies, and a lot of hounds haha. And a border husky sounds like an awful combo oh no. fortunately i’ve not met one but i can imagine the craziness.
A few days ago I was walking my dog on a nearby walking trail, and I saw an older lady walking a dog as well, coming towards me. As we get closer, she pulls the dog off the trail and goes towards a couple trees. Our dogs are looking at each other and very obviously wanting to get close. Anyway, she starts yelling at her dog, and smacking it on the side. All it's doing is sitting there, looking at my dog. I'm still on the trail, and I've finally walked past her, and she starts hitting the dog in the head now. And not just taps, but it's uncomfortably hard from my perspective. Still, it's just sitting there staring at my dog. She has her lead wrapped around a tree. So I yell at the lady to stop hitting her dog and she replies with "it's not my dog"! Then I say "then stop hitting it!" and she says her dog will hurt my dog. I don't see what that has to do with her hitting it. Anyway we go back and forth a couple more times, I'm finally too far away to hear her.
But yeah, what's the right thing to do in this situation? Why would this lady be walking, and hitting, a dog that isn't hers? She had a harness and a long lead, so some money was obviously spent on the dog. Was she likely a trainer or dog walker?
Likely she was a dog walker who bit off more than she could chew and should not be a dog walker. in the situation that your (reactive) dog is passing by another i immediately put a block in between me in the dog (example would be a tree or a bush or even my body) and make my dog do tricks like sitting and shaking to keep her mind and focus on me and the reward instead of the interesting dog coming by. Abuse never solves anything and in the future the dog may react towards dogs even more because it associates other dogs with getting smacked on the head. It’s a shitty situation having to see bad owners. I’ve called Animal control on my neighbors over a dozen times because they have a husky, lab and pit bull all chained in the backyard 24/7 on a lead about 4 feet long. i had to fight with an outreach origination to bring them adequate housing as well.
I visit our local shelter afew times a week. It’s a no kill shelter. I used to visit the shelter in the next county too which is a kill shelter. There were a couple of dogs there that were apparently not eligible for their behavior modification program that wound up being put down even though I’d had wonderful results during limited contact. I’m no professional but it sure seemed to me that those dogs deserved more of a chance. How do they decide which dogs can’t be rehabilitated? Btw this shelter is managed by the dumb friends league. They have a regional manager from Denver who I found quite off putting, so I now only visit our local.. I also want your opinion on no kill shelters. Isn’t that really just shirking the harsh reality and making it someone else’s problem. Like “yeah we don’t kill dogs here but we’re full so those dogs go to a shelter where they do”… I mean, some poor soul has to step up and do the dirty work and it seems shitty to me to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. It does. There are a million pets euthanized annually at shelters in the US. That’s 2400 every day or approximately 55 per state daily. And that only accounts for the ones actually tallied at shelters, not the ones abandoned, run over, shot etc. there’s probably 5 to 10 million unwanted pets that meet an untimely demise annually just in the US. People are the real problem, not getting their pets fixed and letting them breed irresponsibly.. I’m sorry, guess this not a real question and just a rambling rant. Not awfully religious but hope there is a special place in heaven for you.
I fully understand the frustration because i feel it myself. I work in a no kill shelter and while we say no kill it basically just means that our percentage was low enough to say we don’t do it based off length of stay. it was a real shock for me when i found that out a few weeks after being hired when they had a euthanasia. I’ve said bye to all of my dogs that i’ve graduated through our basic obedience program. they were great dogs with a LOT of past trauma and just flipped a switch in the home. At my shelter we have food tests and dog testing and certain scores fail out if they have those aggression issues. there’s issue with the tests themselves as they were made up YEARS ago. It really just sucks. we have kill shelters send plenty of dogs to our shelter than unfortunately have to be put down most often because of shelter stress. And no worries i’m always down to chat if you need to rant as well i understand the struggle. I’m not religious and i’m not sure how you can be in this field but if i can see all my kids i’ve had to say goodbye too again than that’s enough for me.
On that note I’d like to encourage all who adopt to occasionally re-visit the shelter with their pet. Show the people who work there how happy they and their pet are. I’m sure the burden those ppl face could be lightened by seeing the fruits of their efforts. And, thanks again, you’re a hero. Chin up.
THIS! Yes! if your dog can handle going back to say hi (some can’t and never take them back if they’re uncomfortable there) but we love to see our babies! thank you❤️
Funny cuz my latest rescue runs around there like a holiday, smiles all around, wiggling, running into the empty enclosures, lol… if that were me? No way, I’ll just wait outside and greet the ppl as they leave. Lol.. btw I loved how you fielded the pit bull references without locking horns with anyone. Bravo.
Thank you that means a lot, i genuinely wanted to educate and people are triggered.
Why are the pitbulls that much violent?
I wouldn’t say they’re more violent. Every dog communicates differently and most often it’s traits they learned for defense from bad owners and high stress situations. In my opinion any breed can be aggressive and any breed can be perfect. I’ve met pits that had a good and social puppy stage who were absolutely lovely and perfect dogs but i’ve also seen pits that were beaten and shake whenever i walk by, or some bark when i walk by so i leave them alone. it’s all about how you raise them.
I feel like you’re seriously misrepresenting pits (and generally animal behavior) here. It’s not 100% in how you raise them, although it plays a role. I’ve personally had a very lovely pit client that started with me at 10 weeks, was raised with 2 cat siblings, and was generally an incredibly lovely dog with a very loving family. Around 18 months old she grabbed one of the cats and shook it to death. My dads old dog (doodle) was raised alongside his dog brother (other doodle) loving home, trained really well. 10 months old, he mauled his brother to the point of almost taking his eye out. Come to find out, two others in the litter also showed dog aggressive tendencies once they hit adolescence. Genetics are important, and recognizing the existence of genetic aggression is also important.
It’s not just in pits, and there are lovely pits out there, but they absolutely have a higher incidence of dog aggression/ intolerance and small animal aggression.
Well for somebody who understands more about dogs i can talk more about genetics but like i said i have no degree and i’m talking strictly from what i’ve seen. Genetics play a huge factor but i don’t get to see the outcome for most dogs. i’ve seen litters come back though with similar behavior but i can’t give statistics on how often that happens. But i did comment above about backyard breeding and how mothers being treated can effect puppies and especially if the mother is being bred over and over again. I apologize if i upset you but I’m not trying to paint any agenda.
Not upset, it’s just the sentence “it’s all in how you raise them” is really dangerous info to be giving people, and as a trainer I try my best to help people understand why. Genetics play a very, very major role in who your dog is as an adult. You can influence that with training, but genetics can’t be turned off.
Yes genetics effect things majorly and i’ve seen it happen i just didn’t have the knowledge to say anything about that as i myself feel i’d be spreading worse info.
Well I’m glad you’re acknowledging this at least. Because scientists have absolutely proven aggression can be inherited.
Speaking for myself, I’ve owned and loved several pits and will never own another. As all but one had severe small animal aggression, the majority some form of dog aggression, and a couple displayed frightening behaviors towards people, with one flat out going after several. Guess my point is that no other breeds of dogs I’ve owned had those types of issues. Also, you simply can’t deny that dogfighting is still a massive problem in the US, that when dogfighters breed a litter only a couple are kept back for fighting, the rest rehomed to families. And that when you get a pit from a shelter you have no idea whether it came from fighting lines, and that furthermore even your average pitty byb who doesn’t fight their dogs often breeds them willy nilly without regard to the temperament of the parents.
Pits are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. I just feel that people do a tremendous disservice when they ignore and deny these things and call them nanny dogs and whatnot. Unsuspecting families then aren’t able to cope with this small animal, dog, and sometimes human aggression. Which is why they cycle through the shelter system over and over again.
It harms the dogs AND the people. And frankly I will never ever own another pit. And I’m often demonized for my personal perspective.
Anyway, thanks for answering our questions.
Honestly i’m gonna disagree with you. I understand there’s some truth to what you say. But youre painting all pits the same and i’ll never agree with that. I respect your decision. But i will never see pits as the most dangerous dog breed. I’m sorry for your experience but that’s not my experience
No, I’m actually not. I acknowledge there’s tons of pits that never snap. In fact I specifically said that you simply don’t know when you adopt one from a shelter whether they come from fighting lines, and that since aggression is often inherited it’s almost always a gamble. A gamble I’m no longer willing to take. I did NOT say all pits are aggressive or bad, just that I have made a personal decision based on my own (anecdotal but rather extensive experience) that I personally will never own another.
fair enough i didn’t see that part of your comment, that’s your decision once again and i’m not telling you to adopt a pit again. Once again this post was made for awareness on how the animal welfare world runs not an argument about pits. They’re already the most euthanized breed due to shelter stress, genetics everything else so i’ll be their advocate for the good ones.
Pits temperamentally are not more violent with people than other breeds but many will take issue with other animals if not socialized properly.
When they do aggress toward people it will be a bigger deal because they are strong and we will hear about it more often because pit mixes are 20% of the US dog population.
Exactly! Pits are bigger and cause more damage and that’s why you hear about one bad bite as opposed to the 16 moderate bites from a small dog
I take my chances with a Chihuahua versus a pit bull any day
and i’ll take my chances with a pit bull over a cow. thank you.
Cows are responsible for about 20 human deaths a year in the US. Pits 40-60. Just sayin’.
First look on google already says that in 2018 it was 38. Now think about how many people piss off pits with sticks and prods compared to how many cows have the opportunity to hurt.
how many cats, other dogs, livestock, and other animals minding their own business do pit bulls kill or maim a year? I can't fathom why pit apologists have such a difficult time with statistics
Because people bred pits for specific reasons and overdid it so now they make up a lot of the dog population and therefor you hear more about them. especially since if they post a pit bull attack it’ll get them plenty of support from people who hate literal dogs. I bet you think pits come with their ears cropped too huh?
Best way to keep a pups ears clean?
honestly? less time in water and regular ear wiping (start young!) and just keep an eye on it. my hound has hella touch sensitivity so she has very limited water time:
Which dog breed have you seen the most loyalty, and the intelligence in combination at once?
Honestly this is all Bias but my hound. She’s loyal to a fault and would do anything for my fiancé. she’s also super smart and figured stuff out fast!
How happy are you when a dog takes its freedom ride and doesn’t come back? My first dog was a rescue so I got to talk to his foster mom, but my new guy came from a shelter after a month that included kennel cough and a parvo scare. Do you just move on to the next dogs that need you?
As nice as it would be sometimes to forget the past i’d say i remember at least 75% of the dogs we’ve had with us. I have a really good memory and can even spot most of our former dogs if i see them out in public! I’m extremely happy when a dog takes a ride home. we read our adoptions list every night together (my fiancé and i) and take turns choosing dogs we want to go home next. We always move on to the next dog who needs help but they never leave us that’s for sure. my phone is just pictures of hundreds of dogs.😂
Do you think there's been a panleukopenia outbreak worldwide in these last few years just cause of covid?
Panleukopenia is a cat uri disease correct? i don’t work with cats often but i will say i adopted a kitten who had it last year and we’ve had a few out breaks at the shelter. i’m not sure how it would correlate with covid though!
Do you have any dogs, or do you get enough dog time at work?
Never enough dogs ;). I have a problem child at home in my little pit mix (she loves to bark and chew) and a sassy drama queen of a hound. Puppy Tax puppy tax 2
How many times a day does your heart ... break?
Well this week it broke 14 times :,). I’d say my heart has froze over when it comes to most trauma but there’s some cases that i’ve broken down and cried at home after seeing their condition
Any tips on how to handle a dog that gets really anxious in confined spaces? My dog has problems entering a room even in our own apartment if there’s no rug/ rig slips away or if there’s literally anything standing around. She’s also scared of sudden sounds, movements and lights.
That i would contact a vet for to recommend anxiety medication
What types of cats or dogs are least likely to get homed and what would you suggest if a person who's experienced working with dogs asked which dog to adopt? I love black cats so I'd adopt any black cat old or young. Is it true they're the least likely to get adopted? As for the dogs, is it the same for black dogs? If it's not about the colours of the dogs, breeds maybe? It would be interesting to know preferences. I normally never choose the prettiest or youngest dog, id rather adopt one I instinctually seem bonded to regardless of its look, size or age.
These are the kind of questions i was looking for! So for cats a lot of times it’s black cats who have issues getting adopted, just due to stigmas and certain cultural taboos. Plus some say they’re less expressive since you can’t see any facial movement as easily as other cats since they’re darker, that’s the same with dogs though. people love dogs with expressive eyebrows i’ve found out 😂, so black dogs do struggle to get adopted especially if they aren’t friendly with other dogs. If you’re a one dog kind of household and feel comfortable with constant training there’s always a miracle dog hoping for a shot but it’ll be hard work. As for just any dog and who stays longer kinda deal we have a hard time adopting out 4-6 month old puppies due to them not being in the cute cuddly stage but not being old enough to have established training. they stay quite awhile for months at a time. atleast at our shelter hounds, huskies and pit bulls are who we have trouble rehomeing the most! Seniors are always tough too!
Does the shelter properly label dogs? Or does it use the usual "lab mix" breed for bully types?
"UPDATE: Due to all the hateful comments and arguments being started about pits i’m done with this IAmA."
Nevermind, OP didnt like being called out for the truth about those dangerous breeds.
i see often that lab mixes are indeed lab mixes.
Update: OP was tired of y’all making the same argument and to be fair i did it for like 6 hours so take a chill pill. They can be dangerous but everything can be dangerous
They can be dangerous but everything can be dangerous
The severity of the danger is what separates the breed that was bred to fight from every other dog. Saying everything can be dangerous is a bs excuse to not hold them accountable for the countless lives they either kill or main.
i see often that lab mixes are indeed lab mixes.
And the vast majority of all the "lab mixes" have are actually pits with a small portion being lab.
Same argument everybody else made. If you got charged by a Neo you’d wish it was a pit bull. And besides training is there for a reason. genetic effects aside (which isn’t most cases it’s a very small percentage IN MY experience and through my work.) pit bulls can be extremely loving pets and incredibly loyal.
Do you have any tips for a pitt that gets fractious when trying to trim nails? She doesn't try to bite, but she pulls her legs away and wants nothing to do with any of it. My vet is going to help me with some sedatives so I can get them trimmed because they're pretty long, but I was wondering if there's any way to desensitize her to the process. She's about 4-5 years old and a great dog.
Thank you for all the hard work you do, working in a HVS is a lot, especially with the increase in behavioral issues. You're doing good work.
So i struggle myself with that part in particular. my pup with major foot sensitivity (unfortunate side effect to her parvo treatment, she just hates being touched by her feet) she has black nails and i don’t feel comfortable trimming them and she hates the vet. She unfortunately has to be sedated with very mild sedative and than woken up afterwards. we’re getting a scratch toy so i’ll try to update you on how that works!
Do you feel any guilt when someone is injured, usually a child, by a dog attack?
Also, why aren't obviously dangerous dogs being put down? Instead of being released back into our communities
No i don’t, because that wouldn’t be sensible. Dangerous dogs get put down all the time, sometimes even the non dangerous ones get put down. have you worked in a shelter? because if you did you’d know better.
Does you think it’s right that some animals has got human girlfriends?
what do you mean?
Do you feel there is currently an issue with shelters mislabeling/ misrepresenting dogs? I’m a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Ive noticed a lot of shelters will describe dogs as “sassy” or “prefers his humans to be home” or “likes to be bossy with other dogs” instead of being honest that the dog has a tendency to snap when uncomfortable, has major separation stress, or is dog selective.
View HistoryShare Link