Washington Post Blog Blasts Shelter Dogs

Last week, the Washington Post posted a blog entitled, “Why I’d Never Adopt A Shelter Dog Again.” While we posted a link to the blog on our Facebook page when we saw it, we thought the blog deserved more discussion.

The author maintains that adopting dogs at a shelter is a “crap shoot” and you never know what you’re going to get. She clearly suffered through the loss and illnesses of the dogs she had adopted at a shelter and she extrapolates from that experience to conclude that she will never adopt a shelter dog again. She goes on to imply that if you go to a breeder you are certain to get a healthy dog that will live a long and happy life.

Now I’m not a shelter dog snob nor am I a breeder-only kind of guy. I admit that I have had dogs I’ve gotten from a breeder as well as dogs that I’ve gotten from rescue groups. I have loved these dogs equally and they have given me an unbelievable amount of joy and companionship. These dogs have been “pure” breeds and have displayed all of the strengths and weaknesses I knew were associated with the breed. Our house has also been graced by “hybrids” from our local shelter – San Francisco Animal Care and Control – and these dogs have filled the lives of my children (whose dogs they actually are) with the same joy and companionship my dogs have brought me. I certainly can’t say that these dogs have been more or less healthy than the dogs I’ve gotten from a breeder or a breed rescue group.
That said, our family too has made a bad adoption from a shelter. We adopted a dog from the San Francisco SPCA.

This adoption failed. We worked with this dog for months, we sought advice from the SPCA veterinarians and behaviorists, but we could not stop this dog from biting and jumping on people. We felt like failures as dog lovers and as human parents (our son was devastated when we had to return his dog). We still cannot fully express how painful this experience was. But this single data point did not prevent us from returning to a shelter to seek out another dog and the proof of success with Oscar makes me so very glad we didn’t give up.

I am not saying that one solution fits every dog lover or pet parent, but I’m equally certain that not every dog from a shelter is destined for failure any more than I’m certain that a dog from a breeder will never have a health or behavioral issue. Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons, after all. I simply don’t understand how any dog lover can reach the conclusion that they would never adopt a shelter dog again. What do you think?

Thanks for reading!