From the mission statement page on the website of the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area in Texas:
We house animals for Comal County and the City of New Braunfels.
Through the ceaseless efforts of our professional staff, our primary goal is to awaken the true humanity and compassion of the citizens in our communities to the needs and rewards of caring for and respecting animals.
Anyone who has ever spent time with puppies will tell you: puppies bite. Their baby teeth are needle-like instruments of pain which they wield with reckless disregard. They bite shoelaces, hair, hands – anything within reach. And they bite hard. As soon as their teeth start coming in, the mama dog will start teaching them about bite inhibition. They also learn from playing with their littermates, often times too aggressively, until someone gets told off.
As compassionate caregivers, it’s our job to take over teaching duties once pups are weaned and ready to begin their lives as pets. In the absence of a mama dog and littermates to do the telling off, it falls to us to teach the puppy that biting hurts and is not an acceptable behavior.
One of the humane ways we help puppies become good pets is by continually redirecting their bitey behavior and encouraging alternatives: Here, chew this toy instead of me. Hey, let’s play ball instead of biting my hands. And so on. It seems like these redirections are necessary about a million times before the puppy either catches on or finally stops teething. It’s part of the deal with puppies and certainly anyone in the animal sheltering business knows this.
But when the the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area got an 11 week old Dachshund-Chihuahua puppy named Baby George, they were apparently aghast that he was bitey. In fact, they decided he was possessed (yeah, by demons) and killed him for his normal puppy behavior. Then they posted about it on Facebook:
The Facebook post read: “The pup is now free; free from whatever unknown demons were causing the aggression.”
The shelter’s executive director, Billie Zercher, defended the killing to the local news outlet:
[T]he animal did show aggression to our staff members on a couple of occasions. And because of that, we cannot put it up for adoption.”
I’m sorry, what? An 11 week old puppy showed “aggression”? Check. Normal. Expected.
But let’s be clear: Any “aggression” displayed by an 11 week old puppy is simply the offering of a behavior which needs to be modified by the humans in charge so the puppy learns it’s not desirable. It’s not in any way equivalent to an adult dog who has displayed aggression toward people, undergone extensive behavior modification with trained canine behaviorists and tried veterinary drug treatment but still failed to modify the behavior. Eleven weeks isn’t long enough to determine whether rehabilitative efforts have been successful in an adult dog with human aggression issues. Baby George had only been ALIVE for eleven weeks, let alone had any chance to modify his normal puppy behavior. No judge in the country would have deemed Baby George a threat to public safety and ordered his killing. But the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area – the very agency which should have been protecting him – did. And blamed it on demons.
Will the real demons please stand up?
(Thanks Arlene for the link.)