Waggin’ Train saves a lot of dogs. All of us in the New York City No Kill and rescue community are grateful for that. I am grateful for that. This isn’t about that – and in the end, it’s not even about them. It is about one dog, an individual, and what we owe that individual. There are some who say we should not worry about dogs who have special needs while perfectly healthy ones die in shelters nationwide. I do not share that view because as a No Kill advocate, I know that we can and should save them all. So when an opportunity comes to save a life, when that dog is in front of us, when that animal is in our care, our ethical obligation is to save that life.
When the ASPCA planned to kill Oreo, the calls for mercy rang out throughout New York City and the world and the outrage continued after her execution. When they proposed killing dogs in “psychic pain,” the New York rescue community recoiled in horror and fought to defeat that bill wholeheartedly. Now the arguments for death once put forth by the ASPCA here in New York are being recycled by the people who once fought against them, only because they have a personal connection with the group who made the decision to kill. The real question is if Nikki had an opportunity to be saved and was denied that opportunity.
She did and she was.
Nikki is Oreo. Only the players have changed.
Before being killed, Waggin’ Train was offered, at no cost, a qualified behavioral evaluation by accredited professionals with significant experience with fear-based behavior who would be capable of giving Nikki a prognosis for rehabilitation and a corrective plan, as appropriate. They said “No.”
They had more than one offer to take Nikki, including a facility they had used before and this offer was communicated to Waggin’ Train. They said “No.”
They had an offer of evaluation for possible admission for Nikki from a qualified sanctuary that is also recognized by the New York City shelter system as a fellow “New Hope” rescue, and had that sanctuary accepted Nikki after her evaluation they would have assumed all costs, all liability, and would have provided maximum quality of life. That sanctuary has experience with aggressive dogs, does not believe in social isolation, and has successfully rehabilitated dogs deemed dangerous by others – and where rehabilitation has not been possible, they have given those dogs a lifelong home where they have as much social contact as possible from dedicated volunteers and their progress is never given up on. They said “No.”
None of the options involved would incur them any cost, as a donor had generously offered to cover any and all of them. Although Waggin’ Train did not and would not seek other options for this dog, the rescue community rallied in an incredibly short time to come forward and provide three life-saving options:
1. Expert assistance for Waggin’ Train to save Nikki,
2. Transferring Nikki to another rescue for saving,
3. Evaluation for possible placement in a sanctuary.
They said “No.”
A dog’s life is worth more than “No.”