This post is on Facebook by Nathan Winograd.
This boy was labeled “aggressive” for “baring his teeth” at the Devore shelter in San Bernardino County, California, and scheduled to be killed. It is immediately obvious just by looking at him that he has an underbite. Thankfully, he was pulled by a rescue group and–no surprise–gets along with everyone he has met, including other dogs.
In California, it is illegal for shelters to kill animals when rescue groups are willing to save them, even when the shelter claims the dog is “aggressive.” Despite attempts to exclude these dogs when the legislation was working its way through the legislature, we refused to give shelters the power to decide eligibility and this is exactly why. For dogs, it would have been the exception that swallowed the rule and continued to allow shelters to hold animals hostage and threaten rescue groups by simply labeling dogs like Dagwood “aggressive.” Had the rescue rights law not been in place, Dagwood would be dead.
While shelters like Devore continue to falsely label dogs “aggressive,” shelters sincere in their commitment to saving dogs are working hard not to. The process they use is rigorous, rules out a medical origin for the behavior, and explores any and all possible solutions.
They also understand that behavior must always be understood in the context of the environment as sheltered animals may be under duress and often have experienced a recent trauma (including separation from their families). That is why they often use real world assessments.
In a recent study conducted at a municipal shelter run under a police department, dogs who failed their initial temperament evaluation were sent to a trained and qualified foster home for further evaluation and behavior modification instead of being killed as they would have been in past years. This included dogs with, among other things, barrier reactivity, fear-based aggression, resource guarding, kennel stress, prey drive, and bite history. Some of the dogs also had secondary issues including extremely high energy, possible dog aggression, dog selectivity, fear of men, undersocialization, separation anxiety, and reactivity. Over 90% of the dogs placed in foster care were saved: http://goo.gl/3ry9YM
And for the record, Naomi does the exact same thing. Most Boxers and other breeds with underbites do too.