The Sue Sternberg Debate

There are a lot of people that think this lady is an impressive shelter dog advocate. Others think she is ‘bad’ because she promotes euthanasia (the ‘enemy’) for dogs that are dangerous. She has been working with dogs in the shelter setting for decades and has multiple rescues in her own home. In my mind she has dedicated her life to watching dogs and really understanding when they are dangerous in order to save as many dogs with good temperaments as possible. When a dog is truly dangerous there are only two safe options: let it live in a kennel setting or euthanasia.

With my experience at Panhandle Animal Shelter I have seen adult dogs that have been there for over a year not display any self destructive behaviors, which means the shelter is doing a darn good job. On the other hand I have seen dogs under a year old who have been there for just a few months show fast circling behavior and tail tips that look like the hair has been chewed or rubbed of. For puppies I don’t think that this is very preventable because they have so many more needs than an adult dog. These dogs are lucky enough to get walks outside and human attention everyday. But as one of my friends pointed out some of these well adjusted long term adult dogs used to live outside at the old shelter and worries that these same dogs might not be able to stay so well adjusted inside.
Have you ever been to the pound in Bonners Ferry? There are huge differences between different shelters. Sue challenges us to make the ultimate decision with the dog’s best interest in mind. Do we let these dangerous dogs that we have come to love go home to a family where the dog is eventually put in a situation it doesn’t have the capacity to handle? When dogs bite it is just as devastating to its owners. Now the dog faces a life of bouncing through houses, containment, and/or management by an extremely talented owner. Sue puts it so clearly when she says that dogs with lower tolerance must be managed, but management is only what you do in between events. Yes, there are people out there that can manage a dangerous dog. The danger is that no one can keep their guard up 100% of the time because people get comfortable. When is there the most security at an airport? When will a dog be managed as best as possible?

Here is a link to her website suesternberg.com.

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