Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saving all we can

This subject comes up with frequency when discussing shelter dogs. Every shelter and rescue group is charged in some way with saving all the animals that can be saved.
One of the interesting sides to the conversation is the quality of life for the animal. If you save a dog's life, but they are subject to live the rest of it in a kennel, surrounded by other dogs and terrified, having little human contact except with a caretaker, is that quality of life? Is living that way better than humane euthanasia?
I have friends who come down on both sides of this issue. Some believe any life is better than death. Others believe if the animal will suffer and be miserable, it is best to end their life quickly.
It is always sad when an animal loses their life through human error. The problem is most animals who bite, bite due to human error. Note the word most. Many dogs make a decision to bite, and those animals are the hardest to rehabilitate. This doesn't mean I don't believe they can't be saved, simply the numbers have to add up.
So do you put everything you have in trying to place one dog, who will probably be miserable cooped up in a cage? Do you say, "I have done the best I could, but have 100 more dogs who need me?"
The answers are not easy; people who have to make these decisions have a very hard task. Coming to a decision on whether an animal lives or dies is made daily by people all over this country. Until we work harder on educating and advising, more of these decisions will have to be made. I simply hope we make the best decision for the dog, not for our personal egos.

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