On Sunday, April 27th, CNN aired on episode of Inside Man with Morgan Spurlock called “Behind that Puppy in the Window.” This episode focused mainly on three dogs at our shelter, The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, and followed all three from intake to their invidual story endings.
We have reaped a lot of positive feedback and honest conversation from this eye-opening episode and wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the unanswered questions that we’ve seen pop up across social media.
What happened to Carlito? Unfortunately, he did not survive. Kittens rejected by their mothers at such a young age could be suffering from any multitude of medical issues that are unknown when we receive them. They are often nutritionally deficient, have had a drop in body temperature, and have been exposed to disease that their underdeveloped immune systems cannot fight off.
Why was the gray pit euthanized? He seemed ok to us and his tail even wagged! Most adopters coming to the shelter are looking for a dog they can trust – one that will fit right in and go to the dog park, walk with the kids, and safely hang out with a variety of people. A dog that shows ANY kind of aggression is a dog that will need extra time and training – a luxury most people can’t, or won’t, commit to an animal. Additionally, we have a responsibility to provide our community with dogs that are at a low-risk for biting humans, attacking animals, or otherwise acting aggressively.
This specific dog was held for 48 hours and evaluated during that time but multiple staff members during that time. The dog, in several instances, displayed aggressive behavior and would have been extremely hard to place due to his nature. Unfortunately, pit bulls face an extra tough road as there is zero tolerance for anything even resembling aggression in their breed. Right or wrong, this is the reality, and one that we see every day. Most people don’t want a dog that poses a safety risk. Period.
Why didn’t we send the pit to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah – This amazing rescue has limited space and a long wait list. Even if they would have been able to take our dog, their rescue is nearly 2000 miles away which requires quite a bit of logistical coordination. Ideally, we would send every less-adoptable dog to a rescue, but the plight of shelters and rescues everywhere is that space is limited and so is money. We are always looking for volunteers willing to help with training, transport and placement.
Why didn’t we show the actual euthanasia? Bringing euthanasia to the table for an open and honest discussion was important to us, but letting this animal, and any animal like him, go with dignity was more important.
You sugarcoat the situation by using the word “euthanize” instead of “kill.” “Euthanize” is the industry-accepted terminology. Using the word “kill” also casts our staff in an unfair light when they are providing the most humane solution to an unfortunate situation.
What are Missy’s qualifications? Missy Kehler has been working with dogs on a personal and professional level for 20 years. She specializes in training working breeds (such as pit bulls, American bull dogs, St. Bernards and huskies) for sporting events and has received awards on a national level. Her family has helped in many aspects of rescue for the same amount of time and has volunteered, fostered and transported. She worked as a vet tech for 12 years.
Missy’s process is based on the ASPCA’s SAFER evaluation test. She combines their test with her extensive knowledge of breeds to create an evaluation process completely unique to the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. The results of these evaluations help Missy and our staff to determine the best next step for dogs that come to our shelter whether it be adoption, rescue, foster or euthanasia. Every attempt at placing a dog is made. Missy works with a network of over 70 rescues that work with all varieties of dogs including specific breeds, behaviorally challenged dogs, and dogs in need of extreme medical care. The decision to euthanize is NEVER made lightly, never solely made by one staff member, and never made until it’s the last possible option.
The people that needed to see this, didn’t see it. Oh yes they did. Those people are YOU. If you were touched by our story, then share it with someone who didn’t see it and who you think needs to hear about these important topics in animal welfare. Maybe it will inspire you to volunteer at your local shelter. Maybe you’ll talk to your neighbor about the importance of spaying and neutering. Maybe you’ll donate a few dollars to an animal welfare cause that’s close to your heart. Maybe, when you’re ready for a new pet, you’ll consider adopting.
Two puppies were adopted on the show. What about senior animals? We love seniors! The ARL has a unique-for-our-region foster program called “Grey Muzzle” that places senior and special needs dogs into a home where they can live in a less-stressful environment until their forever family comes for them.
We want to hear more about Petey! Petey was placed into our Grey Muzzle Foster Program where a family gave him the love and attention he needed to blossom. He was adopted to a forever family within a few months! Petey’s story is an excellent illustration of the importance of our Kennel Companion program as well as our Grey Muzzle foster program. If you love pets, but can’t own one, please consider volunteering to help a pet in need!
I use a reputable breeder, so I’m not contributing to the problem, right? We suppose it depends on how you look at the situation. The bottom line is that there are people who will always want a pure-bred puppy from a breeder and the best we can hope for is that those people do a lot of research to ensure they’ve found a responsible breeder. If you do have your heart set on a specific breed, please consider finding one at the shelter or at a breed-specific rescue first.
How can I watch the show again/get a copy of the episode? Replay schedules will depend on your cable provider. We are working with the ““Inside Man”” producers to find out about obtaining DVD copies of the episode and will update you as we receive information.
How can I help? There are a lot of ways to help at your local shelter. Here’s how you can help at ours: