On Honesty in Animal Rescue - the Fallacy of "Better Off Dead"
The person in favor of the pull was asking for help with possible placement and foster, and got a reply from a breed rescue group saying, essentially: don't bother, this dog is better off dead.
They had a list of excuses - this breed doesn't take to rehoming well, this breed is too challenging, we can't find experienced homes willing to take a dog with issues - and this is the breed they specialize in! The representative closed with this line: "Sometimes the absolute best gift you can give is to release the dog from a miserable, frightening, and traumatic existence."
All without ever seeing, meeting or evaluating the dog, taking her out of the shelter environment that was absolutely freaking her out, treating her for her flea infestation and her painful, rotting teeth. Better off dead, without even trying.
The better off dead line is one that has been used for years by the people with the awful job of killing shelter animals, because who could live with that? You have to justify it somehow to be able to sleep at night. All kinds of coping mechanisms are tried: blame the public, blame the animal - when in fact what we need to be doing, all of us, is to be trying a lot harder to not kill shelter animals at all.
I'm big on language. I hate the use of the term "euthanasia" to mean "shelter killing", something I have written about a few times before. We owe it to the animals we are trying to save to be honest with them, about them - to not obfuscate what's happening with pretty words designed to soothe our guilty consciences. I'm pretty sure I have an idea of what's behind this person's attitude, so be honest about it: this is too hard for me. I can't handle this. I don't have the contacts to place this dog. I don't have the expertise to rehabilitate this dog. This will take up resources that we could be using to take other, more easily adoptable dogs.
Those are the honest reasons, the ones that are so very difficult to say because they open one up to attack, to judgment. But I at least respect when one has the gumption to be honest with others and with themselves rather than saying that a dog is better off dead without even the slightest attempt to go beyond the most superficial of long-distance evaluations.
That bitey little dog, Lizzy, went home today with a rescuer who doesn't believe in better off dead and after a little time to decompress will go into the home of a very experienced foster parent who is willing to do whatever is necessary; who is willing to try. She's already showing some positive signs of adjustment, and I've almost got my heart rate under control from once again hearing the dishonest excuse: better off dead.