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The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough: How rescuing isn’t always guaranteed an ethical ending

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“Adopt, don’t shop”. A phrase commonly promoted by the internet, certain rescue places, and shelters. On a surface level this statement seems hopeful and encouraging with the intentions of helping dogs and families unite together. It’s supposed to be a decision that helps a trapped situation end happily for the dogs involved. However, shelter dogs and the breeding world is so much more complicated than just that. Simply put, there are many unethical ways to adopt.

According to the national database of shelter animals count, around three million dogs were turned over to shelters in the year 2023. Between dogs and cats 800,000 of those animals surrendered were put down, and or had a “non-lived” outcome, 600,000 of those being from euthanasia. The database  states that there has been a decrease in “non-live” outcomes since 2019, but it doesnt change the alarming number of dogs that are being put down, which notably can be from behavioral issues.

There are many people who have an ingrained mindset that the statement above is wrong or mean. This article is not to promote “shopping” for a dog, it is an explanation of the repercussions that happens when shelters place abused dogs with severe trauma with people who do not meet the requirements or have the capability to properly care for these animals. The shelter is not always the problem. When animals are brought into the shelter they are first searched for a microchip and then placed in a kennel depending on their certain characteristics, build, and age. As well as the factor of how well the dog handles human engagement. There is no doubt that the majority of dogs brought into these shelters have faced some kind of abuse from humans, and the emotional marks that it could have left in the dog do not always show before the dog is rehomed. It’s not the fact that they hide this information from adopters, but rather play down the severity of how bad the situation could be. That is why it is advised practically no matter what that adopted dogs from shelters should not live in a home with young children until many years after they are adopted. So, the question from there is how does this play out?

It goes something like this: a nineteen year old college student is placed with a dog that has “minimal” behavior issues despite having no previous experience owning a dog. She’s explained that it takes three days for a dog to open up following adoption, three weeks to be comfortable in their new home, and three months for their full  personality to come out. This is true, it does take that long for a new rescue dog to really come  into their own, but coming into their own can mean a lot of things. It’s not just their goofy playful side, or their sweet cuddly side. It’s also the severe resource guarding side, and the food aggression caused by years on the street side. All these personalities can be in one, and that is where the confusion lies.

Rescue dogs have the greatest personalities. It is so beautiful to watch these betrayed dogs come back to life, trusting people, and learning to “dog” again. Despite what has hurt them they always resolve to love. It is this issue that leads uneducated people into owning dogs that need behavioral attention. Sometimes the shelter isn’t aware that the dog is still struggling mentally, but sometimes, when they are, they downplay the issue as mere behavioral issues. Behavior and mental state in dogs are connected, and that is how a loving dog can also be aggressive. Aggression that goes beyond training is aggression from the rescued dog’s previous life. It is aggression that is so deep in the dog’s brain they don’t mean to act out and don’t mean to hurt you, but they just can’t fully forget what has happened to them. Sometimes love isn’t enough. Despite how much love is given to a rescue dog sometimes they need out, and the only way to do this is behavioral euthanasia. It seems cruel and there is a huge severe stigma around it, but that is how the story of a rescue dog with behavioral issues being handed out to someone who is uneducated is going to end. If a dog breaks skin with a bite more than twice on people it is supposed to be turned over to the shelter for evaluation, but once the dog is given back they are very rarely put back out for adoption if they had that problem (severe bite wounds). From there, these dogs who are struggling mentally will live the rest of their lives sitting in a shelter, because they are labeled dangerous. The issue here is that they were not labeled dangerous to begin with. In doing so young people are influenced  into thinking they are  going about the most ethical way to get a dog, and the reality of that is not always true. Of course, there are several rescue stories that end perfectly. It is good that this is the majority, but not all stories can be the same. Sometimes love isn’t enough, but that doesn’t mean that for a lifetime it can’t be. 



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About the Contributor
Ella Neel is a senior at Marymount Manhattan College. She is the digital managing editor this semester! Her favorite things to write are lifestyle pieces and editorials!

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