The SPCA Revolving Door

For years now I have lived with multiple dogs. “So what!” you say. “Many people live with more than one dog, I myself have two!”

“Two?” I say. “And you consider that living with multiple dogs?” then I laugh. I laugh because what these people do not understand is that I live with WAY more than two dogs, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Sure my house is noisy and looks like a daycare centre most of the time, but the lessons I have learned, far outweigh the work involved. When people ask me, “How can you live with so many dogs?” I smile and ask them, “How can YOU live without one?”

Most people are very negative when they hear how many dogs live in my home. Some have even accused me of being an animal hoarder. I have weathered SPCA inspections, and dealt with flak from the city bylaw office all because no one can believe one person is capable of caring for all these animals. But someone has to!

My pack is the detritus of human society. Each and every one of them was thrown away like garbage, one quite literally as she was found in a trash can at the age of six weeks. All of them were unwanted, some abused, some neglected, some just afraid of the world around them because of improper human handling. None of them are bad dogs, although if you asked them, I am sure their former abusive owners would say they were the worst dogs in the world. All of them want love, a warm home to shelter in and a family to be a part of. When they come to me I give them all that, and then I find them the right home.

Rehoming an unwanted animal is no easy task, although anyone who works for an SPCA shelter would say it isn’t rocket science. SPCA shelters while they serve a necessary purpose do nothing towards rectifying our companion animal overpopulation problem. Indeed it is my opinion that the methods of “animal rescue” used by SPCA shelters in Canada only perpetuate the problem.

In order to explain my opinion let us look at the SPCA process from start to finish.

1.) An animal is abandoned or lost in the city.

2.) Local animal control or an SPCA team find the animal, and take it to the shelter.

3.) The animal is held for three days in anticipation of an owner claiming it.

4.) Once the three day hold is up the animal is moved into the adoption room and put on display.

5.) The animal is then adopted out to a citizen who takes it home.

Alright there we have it! Sounds good right? Except for one thing, nothing is known about this animal. It’s quirks of character did not manifest themselves during its stay at the shelter, because shelter environments are not conducive to calm behavior in dogs. Shelter environments bring out the worst in an animal. The problem with this method is simply this, no rehabilitation of the animal is done by the SPCA. It leaves their shelter with the same issues it arrived with. Usually those issues are the reason the animal ended up in the shelter in the first place. Can you see where I’m going with this?

For those of you who can’t, let me explain it in more simple terms.

1.) Animal is strayed because present owner has had enough of puppy peeing on the floor.

2.) Animal is picked up by, or surrendered to the SPCA and put up for adoption. No training is done, the animal is placed in a kennel until someone seeking a furry companion comes along and requests to adopt it.

3.) Animal gets taken home where it proceeds to pee on the floor (remember, no one has taught it not to do this)

4.) Animal is strayed again, or returned to the shelter and the whole process starts all over again.

5.) After several times through the system (still with no attempts at retraining) the animal is deemed unadoptable and euthanized. (Hmmm, sound like they should install revolving doors?)

I just explained why I live with so many dogs. Now let me explain how I rescue an animal, and we will see if my theories make sense to you.

1.) I receive a call about, or find an animal that has been strayed, abused, abandoned, or is simply not wanted by their owner for whatever reason they can drum up.

2.) I take the animal home and introduce it to my pack.

3.) For the next week the animal is literally attached at the hip. Everywhere I go it goes. This serves to ensure that any quirks of behavior or issues that need to be addressed are identified quickly and a plan of action for this particular animal can be drawn up.

4.) Retraining starts based on the issues manifested during the week long assessment period described above. There is no set limit in time for training, every animal is different, learns at their own pace, and must be dealt with individually. Some learn what they need to in a week or two and are ready to be offered to the RIGHT home for adoption, others need months worth of rehab training.

5.) Once an animal is made “bomb proof” (meaning it can live in the average home without a problem) it is then ready for adoption.

6.) When ready to be adopted, the animals bio is posted to Facebook with pictures, and a brief description of their likes, needs and dislikes. (Can they live with cats, children, other animals?) A brief medical history is also added. (Please note all unfixed animals have spay or neuter surgery before being adopted out if medically advisable. To date only one of our rescues has been denied this surgery due to respiratory issues.)

7.) Someone applies to adopt the animal. (That’s when the hoop jumping begins.)

8.) Background checks are made on the prospective adoptive family. References are called, and they MUST have a relationship with a veterinarian and be willing to sign a permission to release information, so we can check their vet reference.. (We do not adopt rescues out to first time pet owners)

9.) If they get past the reference and background check, a home visit is scheduled. (We want to see where our rescues will be living.)

10.) If all checks out and the adoption is approved, the animal is then released to the adoptive applicant and all the necessary paperwork is signed. However, they still do not own the dog outright. A three month assessment period follows. After about six weeks a second home visit is made to determine if the animal is doing well in the new placement. If it is then the final paperwork is signed. If the animal does not fit in, it is returned to us and continues training until the RIGHT candidate comes along. If the right candidate is not found the animal will stay with us for life.

You be the judge compare both methods of animal rescue. Now YOU tell me which makes more sense?