Thinking of getting a dog? Know someone who might be? Please read this first.
I’m a vet. Some details changed or omitted for anonymity purposes and because I’ll get flamed for this.
Today a man brought his dog in to me.
The dog was a large, boisterous adolescent puppy. He hurtled into the room, bouncing up to me excitedly, wagging his tail all the time and nudging at my hand with his muzzle. His big squishy paws crashed against my chest each time he paused to greet me, as he bounded around the room investigating all the smells. He was an unusual cross, very striking to look at and obviously a bright and energetic dog. He was adorable.
The history went like this:
The dog had been bought as a tiny puppy by a couple who were told it was a “designer” cross between two specific small breeds. Now, if the people who bought this puppy had had the slightest inkling about what they were doing it would have been immediately obvious to them that this was most certainly not a cross between two small breeds. But anyway, they didn’t have a clue so they bought the cute little puppy from this dubious source (probably at a cost of several hundred pounds) and took it back to their family home, complete with toddler.
The dog grew a bit and it became clear that it was actually going to be really big. It was bouncy, energetic and destructive. It kept racing around and knocking over their small child. So they rehomed it to a family member.
The family member also had children but they were slightly bigger children. The family member really wanted to do the right thing, so they tried to “discipline” the dog. The dog began to show occasional signs of aggression and was completely hyperactive in the home, destructive and unmanageable. I was not surprised to hear this, since it was obvious to me from this dog’s heritage that it was the sort of dog which had significant needs in terms of exercise and stimulation. In an attempt to magically resolve the issues the family member had the dog neutered. Which unsurprisingly made no difference.
Today the dog was brought in to be put to sleep. It had growled very aggressively when a child had put its face near his, and between this and an imminent change in circumstances the family member felt unable to manage the dog any more. He had tried local and national rescue organisations, all of which were full. He had nobody to care for the dog overnight tonight. He was not able to take the dog home, partly because of safety concerns and partly because the decision had been taken together as a family that it was the right thing to do.
So I put this healthy, affectionate, vibrant dog to sleep while it munched on treats and the third owner in its short life cried into his fur. Then when it was just me and the body of this poor puppy I had a good old cry myself.
I know there will be people who think I was right to put down a dog who has shown any signs of aggression under any circumstances. I disagree.
I know there will be people who think I was wrong to put down a dog when I could have taken it and found it a new home. I disagree.
I also know that there will be many many people who have no idea that this is happening all the time in this country because of irresponsible ignorant greedy people, selling dogs to irresponsible ignorant feckless people, who then pass them on to naive and thoughtless “rescuers” who eventually get to the end of their tether and bring them to me for euthanasia. All the time.
These are the dogs who bite children in the home due to a total lack of knowledge, reasonable expectations and effort to socialise them adequately.
These are the dogs whose owners can afford four figure sums to buy the latest random mongrel “breed” with a stupid made-up name, but cannot afford fifty quid to get it vaccinated, far less any money at all to treat even minor illnesses.
These are the dogs who clog up rescue centres all over the country, waiting along with thousands and thousands of others for the home with no children, no other pets and eight-foot fences, with an owner who has experience of managing behavioural problems, works from home, has stainless steel furniture and can write blank cheques to pay for the inherited illnesses the dog suffers from. Homes which don’t actually exist.
These are the dogs who I have to put down because I know that it is more responsible of me to painlessly take their life than to condemn them to wait with the rest of the enormous population of “difficult” dogs sitting in rescue kennels all over the country.
Please, please, I implore you. Get advice before you take on a dog - from a vet, a qualified positive behaviourist, the Kennel Club, the Blue Cross, the Dog’s Trust, the RSPCA - the information is there for the taking, there is no excuse. Go to a decent breeder, who has a waiting list, or a rescue centre which really grills you thoroughly before matching you with a pet. Find out how to bring your puppies up properly so if you do find your circumstances change then at least they are rehomable. Make sure you can afford to pay for the unexpected. Make sure your expectations are fair.
Please, because I can’t keep having to do this."
— Anonymous (via vetmed-life)