One of my rescue centre dogs didn't make it this week. I should explain, I work as a volunteer at two well known dog rescue and rehoming centres here in West London. Some shelters have a 'no-kill under any circumstances' policy, others do not. This is a contentious issue and many people have differing opinions. I should lay my opinon on the line for you. I saw this poor dog for the first time last week, she had been flagged up to me as a very stressed dog, so I went to spend time in the kennel with her.
She had been eating the ceiling of her kennel! she had chewed her bedding and she had chewed every toy that was given her. Clearly very stressed over a number of months she had also been given veterinary medicines to calm her. I sat with her for 30 minutes or so and gave her a hard rawhide chew to occupy herself. She lay down next to me and chewed away the whole time. Dogs chew to releive stress, it produces endorphins in the brain which calms them down. When slightly calmer she was a sensitive dog who enjoyed company and who craved cuddles and attention. She knew all her basic commands and worked well for treats. This was an exceptionally clever dog with a sensitive nature. And there lies the problem.
Some dogs just don't cope with kennel life at all, their lives are a misery, they get more and more stressed, become destructive and extremely stressed and unhappy. There are hundreds of dogs waiting for new homes and with the best will in the world and an amazingly dedicated team of staff, they still don't get all the attention and space they need. The behaviour in the kennel made it unlikely that anyone would pick her to re-home.
In my experience working with such dogs, it is the very clever ones, the ones with the most potential, and particulary the sensitive ones with the most potential that get stressed in kennels, they just cannot cope and get very ill. These are the ones that don't make it. If they were humans, they would be your Mozarts, your Steven Hawking, your geniuses. Yet, they are dogs and they end their lives with a needle in their arm. It is sad, but it is a fact that the kennel can now be used by the next homeless dog waiting for someone to choose it. A dog that might have a better chance of finding a home. There is a neverending supply. So tonight I'm thinking about Lola, the one that didn't make it.... and move on to the next one that might.