A couple of days ago, the head of the pit bull rescue that I work/volunteer for received an email that read like this (obviously, names have been removed to protect the innocent):
"I have a staffordshire terrier I need to go to a good home. We have a young child, new home and are unable to take good care of him. He is 6 years old, white with tan spots, one brown-one blue eye. Billy is energetic and loving.
Please let me konw what my next steps would be, or where I can take him."
The head of the rescue responded like this:
"I am sorry to say that your next step should be to ask yourself why you are considering getting rid of him. I am here to tell you that there is not a home for him, and his alternative to your keeping him is euthanasia. There are simply too many dogs flooding the shelters, 30% of them being Pit Bulls, and there are not enough people. People move and have kids every day and do not dispose of their animals because of it. Yes, the pets may get less attention, and yes, they may be a bit put out by it at times, but there are worse fates in life for a dog. Everyone I know who has kids say that their pets get less attention, but so what? They still have a great life compared to most dogs in the world, and surely better than dying in a shelter. That's certainly what will happen to him if taken to one. Most people who adopt from shelters want younger dogs so that they have more time with the dog. Besides, if taken to a shelter, Billy will more than likely be shellshocked because he has been in a home for so long. Won't you reconsider? Is there training help that you need? Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but these are the cold hard facts, and I must believe that your situation can be remedied to provide a happy ending for everyone. Since we are currently full, the only other thing that I can offer is for my rescue to do a courtesy post for him online and see if we can find someone who wants to adopt an older dog. It does happen, but can sometimes take up to a year or more. Can you keep him while he's posted?
Again, sorry to be so blunt, but I have been doing Pit Bull rescue for 12 years, and this is the hard truth."
The response from Billy's owner was less than friendly:
"In no way did I read your entire email. I am unable to take Billy with us at this time and feel bad enough about it already. I AM A DOG/ANIMAL LOVER which is why I am seeking alternative means. I did not need a lecture on pet owning and responsibilities. In your and other's positions, it would be best to do what you do...HELP, not put on a guilt trip hoping situations would change.
Thanks for creating an even more anxiety ridden event."
Honestly, I'm torn on this one. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have 100% been on the dog's side, and thought the email from the rescue, while harsh, was absolutely true and necessary. I wouldn't have seen the owner's side at all. I would only see that the owner was trying to get rid of the dog in the easiest manner possible.
Now? Well, there are different levels of what people can handle, right? I've seen this firsthand. Maybe this person really couldn't handle a dog, a young child, and a new home, even though I can't imagine what they're thinking. Maybe they really do think that this is the only way out.
Then again, with the Humane Society no longer accepting strays, and only accepting surrenders after counseling (and even that is conditional), the reality really is that harsh. Maybe pet owners need to know that information instead of believing that Fluffy is going to find a great new home. Maybe she could do some searching on her own to see if someone she knows will take the dog. I've heard of plenty of people going that route instad of a shelter/rescue route. And the courtesy post? I mean, you've been housing the dog for this long....why not hold on to him a little longer if you think he might get adopted. It's certainly better than life at a shelter, right?