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Lately I have witnessed a growing trend in “rescue” that disturbs me; rescuers playing the blame game, pointing the bony finger of shame at the humans.


January 27, 2014

Elizabeth Brinkley, Paralegal/Legislative Liaison


The use of the word “rescue” is part of it. "Rescue" is not a noun, it’s a verb, and unless you ran into a burning building to “save” the dog it wasn’t about rescue. It is a re-homing. Why do we need the drama? Re-homing dogs is something that has been going on for many years.


Among the very best at finding new homes are the parent clubs for AKC breeds. They do truly commendable work with finding, caring for and placing dogs of their breeds. Many breeders have appreciated their work, donated when we can and helped anytime we could. Breed Clubs are the unsung heroes of purebred dogs and they see some horrible sights that most of us don’t want to see.


Sometimes they see so much that is wrong, they can’t see beyond it. They lose track of the fact that the substandard breeders are a MINORITY. They burn out and become bitter and they start blaming. They become so intolerant of the alleged abusers that they can’t see that their intolerance is part of the problem.


The blame game is a losing game for everyone involved. When you point a finger at the owner, several things happen. You look less in the eyes of others once they get past their initial reaction of righteous indignation. You attract the wrong kind of person who wants the dog for the wrong reasons.


Obtaining a dog should be a time for rational decision making--not an excuse for moral preening. If 'adopting' a shelter dog makes you feel 'better about yourself', you don't need a dog. You need a therapist. You back people into a corner, shame them and they “lie” to avoid the blame. In so doing, you lessen the humanity of all involved. Screaming about the “horrible conditions” the dogs were found in is more likely to make people who would be great homes stop and wonder if they really want a dog from that kind of place.


It is self-defeating. We need to find a way to place the dogs without blaming the owners. Unless you were present for everything that led up to the dog being in a bad place, you don’t know what happened in that person’s life. You don’t know how they got to the “mess” you found them in. You don’t know that the woman who brings a dog in because “it doesn’t match her furniture” didn’t have other issues. Maybe she is in an abusive relationship and the abuser is threatening the animal. Maybe “dumping” the dog is the safest route for her and the dog.


You don’t know that the older woman who has too many dogs in bad conditions couldn’t get anyone – family or friends to help her and just didn’t know where to turn. The family that is moving and “dumped” the dog, you don’t know that the father has lost his job and the family is moving to the only housing they can afford and it won’t allow a dog. YOU DON’T KNOW.


We need to extend a hand and stop pointing fingers. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Blaming those who give up a dog accomplishes exactly nothing except to diminish our humanity.


There are PEOPLE involved in every seizure. Maybe they didn’t know any better. Maybe they just saw a quick way to make money. Or maybe they got overwhelmed and no one would help. Instead of blaming, maybe we could let it go and just help the dog. What does it accomplish to run around badmouthing the owner? Does it make the dog more valuable? Does it make the “rescuer” feel superior to this “obviously lousy person”? What is the point? To create drama that raises money?


To me, the blame game just makes everyone look bad – those pointing fingers as well as those who are accused. And another interesting side effect – making a screaming fuss about how horribly these poor doggies were treated plays right into the hands of the animal rights extremists and gives them more ammunition to use against those of us who are trying to do it right.


The more we scream about how horribly those people treated the dogs, the more the ARs say “See, we told you so.”


How someone got a dog does not define him. The dog is not a "Rescue," he's a mix or a purebred, but more than that, he's *a dog.* If you stop defining the dog by the fact that someone owned him before and then didn't want him, then the possibilities open up for someone to decide he's their dog and they will train and care for and love him. Their mental attitude toward the dog will change and they will both be better for it.


Words are important. He’s a dog that needs a new home with responsible owners.


Related Article on Rescue & Re-Homing; It's All About Helping the Dogs


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