I can’t keep my dog!

May 16, 2010

Really?  Have you really looked at all the facts before you give up your dog to the pound?

“My dog was a model dog for three years until last week!  I left Milo at my mother’s home, and he badly hurt her small dog after she bit him several times on his face!  We never saw any aggression in him before, but now we see it, we can’t keep him!”

This is one of the typical calls rescue groups receive day in and day out.

In this case, Milo is not an “aggressive” dog.  He only reacted to the other dog who attacked him.  Whenever an accident like this takes place, it is always the human’s fault.  If the small dog had the tendency to taunt and bite other dogs, it is the human’s responsibility to ensure her safety.

There’s no logic that this caller and his wife “can’t” keep Milo.  They do not have another dog in their house.  They obviously “can” keep him; they just “don’t want to” keep him.  Now the question: Why?

Milo has become a victim of human hysteria that is anthropomorphizing him.  People can forget dogs are not human, even though they are our family members.  He did not commit a premeditated crime.

Dog guardianship 101: be responsible.  When they adopted Milo, they made a commitment to him.  They are responsible for his well-being and training throughout his lifetime.

If they still do not “want to” keep Milo, then they should continue housing him until a rescue organization finds him a new home that will follow through on their commitment.  Asking a few rescue groups to simply take Milo, so that they can say, “Oh, we tried but no one could take him, so we were forced to surrender him to the pound,” is a copout.

When people do this, they are denying all other options, and it is their choice to cast the ultimate cruelty on Milo who unconditionally trusts them.  Nobody forced them to get rid of him.  When they take him to the pound, Milo will walk next to them entrusting his life with them.  By labeling him as “aggressive,” Milo has no chance of getting out of the pound alive.

In a day or so, Milo would be dragged to the “bump room” where the unwanted animals are destroyed.  By now, Milo’s fear is heightened — animals know when they are about to be killed.  He’ll be placed on a cold stainless steel table.  If he tries to wiggle out of his grievous fate, he’ll be pushed down.  He’ll scream, hoping his people will hear him and rescue him.  He doesn’t know that they are in denial and have moved onto their new life without him.

The only crime Milo has committed was being born as a dog.  His humans framed him by putting him in a position to defend himself against a small attacking dog.  It was not his fault that he did not know his own strength.

If everybody understood that dumping a pet at the pound is not a solution and should never be an option, the kill rate of each animal control facility would be significantly reduced.  As a responsible citizen, let each of us educate others and strive to help make Los Angels deserve its name, “city of angels.”

Marie Atake is Founder & President of Forte Animal Rescue and a former Commissioner on the Board of L.A. Animal Services.