A Follow-Up to Inside Man

i Apr 28th 18 Comments by

OIM_PETS_MORGAN_PETEY_5 copyn 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:


  1. Elissa Pinkerton
    April 28, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    When do you think a regular foster program will be put in place to help those animals, like the kennel companion animals, become better suited to be adopted into a forever home. As it stands now there is only a foster program for the senior dogs.

    • BethIreland
      April 29, 2014 at 9:25 am

      That’s a great question Elissa! While our foster program’s focus is senior dogs, we also place dogs with special needs of all ages into foster homes (Current fosters Annabelle & Bernie are perfect examples). These can be dogs with a medical need, a training need, a behavioral issue, or even just a dog that isn’t adjusting well to kennel life. It is SO important for our public to understand the simplicity of the statement “More foster homes = more saved lives.” It’s as simple as that!

  2. Cheryl Archer
    April 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    I did not know about this, please I need to see if you can somehow let us know when it will air again, thank you!

    • BethIreland
      April 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Hi Cheryl! Please check your cable provider’s listings to see when the show will air again.

  3. Lucille Gable
    April 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I have been doing animal rescues for the ARL since 1968 beginning with Pat Orth, then Mary Ann Thomas, Harry Brown & Katie McGlory. I am the one you never see, the one who is still up at 3 A.M. bringing animals to the drop-off room. Now at the age of 67 with 3 joint replacements I am limited to bait trapping feral & stray cats in my neighborhood. For 46 years I have been trying to inform the public about spay/neuter, keep your cats inside, adopt. For the most part it has fallen on deaf ears–but I will never stop. What all of you do there & always have done is a gift from God. I knew Mary Archer. You all do her proud.

    • BethIreland
      April 29, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Lucille what you do is SO important! Your education may fall on some deaf ears, but we all fight the same battle and sometimes that means just getting through to one person. Rest assured that even that one is still a victory!

    • Tammy Colavito
      April 29, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Lucille, you are wonderful!! Love your dedication!!! Thank You for all you have done over the yrs. and still do to this day 🙂

    • Linda Montgomery
      April 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Lucille, You are an angel among us! Thank you so much for all you have done for God’s creatures. I am trying to do everything I can to help these wonderful fur-babies. Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed, but it is such an important job, that I ask God to give me the strength to keep going.
      You really are an inspiration, and God’s blessings to you always!

  4. Josefine Joyce
    April 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I volunteer at Pet Helpers of charleston S. C. … A NO Kill place..
    As a former Breeder of Min Schnauzers , obedience trainer for many years, I am thanking Y’ALL for bringing your excellent work to the public…. I personally DO aprove of “Putting dogs to SLEEP” when experienced folks like Y’ALL KNOW, IT IS BEST FOR THE DOG . …..
    Josefine Joyce.

    • BethIreland
      April 29, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Thanks for your confidence Josefine! We don’t take these decisions lightly, that’s for sure!

  5. Liz McCauley
    April 29, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Cheryl–Do you have Comcast On Demand? If you do, it is available. We watched it again last night. Good luck!

  6. Lucille Gable
    April 30, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Thank you everyone for your kind words & encouragement. As stated, I will NEVER stop.

  7. Carolyn Emole
    April 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    I’m sorry – I don’t understand. You say you have over 70 rescue centers you work with and not one could take in a pit that had some aggression issues?

    I don’t get it?

    You say that you do everything you can before you make the decision to euthanize an animal for the sole purpose of aggression – that animal was probably abused which is why it’s like that.

    Do you not have any trainers that assist you??

    To me…that act is part of the problem and not solution. Sorry.

    • BethIreland
      May 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Carolyn. The unfortunate reality for aggressive dogs is that there are few rehabilitative outlets for them. Our society just does not tolerate an aggressive pit bull. Period. Yes, there are pit bull breed rescues. We work with several but they face the same problem we do – too many dogs, not enough space/time/money to rehabilitate all of them.

      We have trainers able to work with us from time to time, but think about it this way: IF that dog could’ve been rehabilitated, a trainer would’ve had to commit to working with it consistently for an unknown amount of time. How many good-natured dogs would have potentially been euthanized in that unknown amount of time because we were attempting to rehabilitate one that was taking up a kennel.

      It sucks. We make no bones about it. This is why educating our public is our number one priority. Treat your dogs right. Be a responsible pet owner. Spay and neuter. Donate. Volunteer. Be a part of the solution!

      • Dawn
        May 23, 2014 at 6:42 am

        I’m very disturbed with your attitude about the pit bull you never even gave a fair chance for adoption. After watching the film I was shocked at the shelters unprofessional evaluation of this sweet guy. What I saw was a very frightened dog not an aggressive dog. Your statement that we should be happy that his unnecessary death opened up more room. And, your comment it just “sucks”, is very unprofessional and insulting to those who believe it doesn’t have to suck, there are other solutions than taking a life. Open up more kennels on your 10 acres, work with no kills like best friends and find answers. And please, stop blaming the public. Your policies are bad and I feel very sorry and sad for any animal that unfortunately finds himself in your hands. Shame on you for taking innocent lives!

        • BethIreland
          May 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm

          Hello Dawn. Thank you so much for stopping by our website to provide feedback on the Inside Man documentary. We’re sorry you’re upset with how the pit bull’s case was portrayed. Please remember that the crew was with us for seven days and had to edit down their footage to approximately 40 minutes. Rest assured that the dog in question was undeniably aggressive and posed a risk for not only our staff, but for our community.

          We do work with a network of more than 75 other shelters and rescues to give our dogs every chance at life that we can. Unfortunately, the options for aggressive pit bulls are few and far between. Our society does not tolerate any aggression in it’s bully breeds and rescues that deal with these issues are often overcrowded and underfunded.

          Whether we, or you, or anyone else likes it or not – humane euthanasia is a reality in thousands of shelters. It does suck, and there just aren’t a whole lot of other ways to put it. We do the best we can with the resources we have and we stand behind the decisions our educated, loyal, and passionate staff have to make every day.

          It is our job, and anyone’s who cares about animal welfare, to educate the public about the importance of spay/neuter and the responsibilities of pet ownership. We encourage you to support your local open admission shelter by volunteering to educate your community, offering to provide transport to shelters and rescues, and by donating funds so that things like extra kennels can become a reality. After all – money doesn’t grow on the trees that line our 10 acre campus.

          Lastly – don’t feel bad for the animals that end up here. We love each and every one of them and rest assured that we do everything we can to avoid euthanasia including searching for owners of strays, placing animals in foster homes, having animals with behavioral issues work with a Kennel Companion, and utilizing our rescue partners. For many animals that come through our doors, finding themselves here means the start to a better, more humane life -one that is free from abuse, neglect, and overbreeding.

  8. carla peterson
    June 7, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    I volunteer at a local open admission shelter just like yours and this documentary was spot on for showing what happens. I love that your dog kennels have outdoor runs! I wish we had them. I am really happy this documentary was done and I wish more people would see it. I’m looking for the video to share with others.

    • BethIreland
      June 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Carla-
      Our dogs do love their outdoor runs. Hopefully your shelter will be able to add them sometime in the future! Thank you for the time you spend volunteering at your shelter. We couldn’t survive without our vast network of dedicated and committed volunteers and I imagine your shelter is the same. The work you do means the world to the animals you work with!


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