While rescue and adoption have largely replaced traditional pet sales, these marketing channels have increasing risks, especially since the “no-kill shelter” movement is being promoted by many.
In addition to risk from infectious, contagious diseases, sometimes fatal, there are risks from the adoption of dogs with known behavioral abnormalities, including predatory aggression.
As reported in the Zanesville’s TimesRecorder by Shelly Schultz in “Vet confronts commissioners about conditions at dog adoption center,” a veterinarian responsible for oversight at an animal shelter—Dr. Brian Williams—expressed his concern about dogs being adopted despite his risk-based assessment of their behavior. As the National Animal Interest Alliance posted about Dr. Williams concerns, adopting out dogs known to be aggressive, creates “an immediate risk to public safety . . . [and] also threatens the mission of rescue as a whole.”
Unfortunately, the adoption of aggressive dogs has been reported to me a number of times. In many cases, the dogs are immediately re-adopted to unwitting families even after viciously attacking and injuring the previous adopter.
As Dr. Williams observed, there are some dogs that are not suitable as pets for most people, based on their known aggressive behavior. A shelter or rescue can attempt to rehabilitate such dogs, but even so, should inform any potential adopter about the complete medical and behavioral history and strongly consider euthanasia if the dog cannot be placed in a home without risking injury to humans or other animals.