In the past 24 hours, Waggin’ Train has been deluged with offers of help for Nikki, the German Shepherd I wrote about yesterday that they “rescued” – and then decided to kill. In those 24 hours they’ve gotten 750 emails petitioning them to release Nikki into a better situation. They’ve been contacted by rescuers who have offered to take Nikki. They have been offered training, behavioral evaluation, donations to support Nikki’s needs. There has been little response other than to shut down their Facebook group and batten down the hatches, and although I cannot confirm it – they’re not talkin’ – I have no reason to doubt that Nikki died today at their hands, on schedule.
One of the principals in Waggin’ Train, Nanette, provided us with a little insight into her philosophy in an email sent to a donor on Nov 22, nearly a month after having her pulled from the shelter and taken to a boarding kennel, and just after seeing her for the first time. She is afraid not for Nikki’s well being, but for liability.
part of being a responsible rescuer is to make the tough decisions (to euthanize) when needed. It’s very hard, and I don’t make them quickly or without serious thought. However, I would rather be the one to make that decision, than for that decision making process be taken from me by a town animal warden or a court, as a result of an injury or an attack to someone
Now, releasing the animal into sanctuary care, as was a possibility, would have negated this which seems to be Nanette’s main concern. Her secondary concern is another shade of the “Angel of Death” complex: if she thinks a dog needs a killin’, then she’s the best one for the job.
I cannot, and will not place a dog that is dangerous…even if it is fear based. The liability is just too high.
And the thing about that is that there’s no indication of this dog being dangerous until Waggin’ Train got a hold of her. Dangerous is in the eye of the beholder; is there an actual bite record here? Prior to Waggin’ Train getting custody this dog lived with a young child and was turned in due to a landlord conflict over barking, not aggression.
In the end I have no idea if this dog was or wasn’t aggressive. I wasn’t there. What I do know is that Waggin’ Train repeatedly refused offers of help. They refused a free consultation with an outside trainer. They refused a free consultation with a behaviorist to evaluate Nikki for possible sanctuary placement. They were so focused on killing her that they would not consider any other option.
It is not right – ever – to kill an animal who has a place to go that provides an appropriate and safe environment for them. Many times people beg to get an animal considered for sanctuary placement, Waggin’ Train instead chooses death. I can’t say I’ve ever met an animal for whom death was superior to sanctuary, because when the animal is alive there is always the possibility of improvement, whereas death is rather final. Having seen formerly feral dogs go to adoption and formerly aggressive animals become the beloved companions of children it’s pretty amazing what can happen when one does not close the door on possibility, even when it takes years to figure out what an animal needs. I have to believe that an animal with no known history of aggression prior to Waggin’ Train taking possession a whopping 2 1/2 months ago would have a pretty good shot at improvement.
But I don’t think we’ll ever find out.
I do not share the decision making process of my rescue dogs with anyone. I do not need any additional trainer’s input. I trust the individuals I have already enlisted (both that also specialize with the GSD breed.) [EDITOR'S NOTE: Neither of these individuals appears to be an accredited trainer.] Although difficult and emotional, I have not come to my decision quickly or without serious thought.
That being said, I am firm on the decision I have made, and the reason I have made it, and will not discuss it further.
The Angel of Death always knows best.