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Advice on placing a long term dog

  • 1.  Advice on placing a long term dog

    Posted 25 days ago
    I am the (new) Behavior Coordinator for my shelter. Before my current position I was animal care staff for almost 3 years. We have a dog in our care that has been with us since December of 2017. As an open admission shelter it is staggering to have a dog that long. Our previous director had a very old fashioned approach with things and though she passed her assessment and quickly became a staff favorite, she had blanket restrictions in place that made it nearly impossible for anyone to even meet her. 

    She has broken down to the point strangers cannot touch her. She is very non reactive with them but if someone she doesnt know tries to touch her she will snap at them. She is also very animal reactive and has a bite incident towards another dog before she came to us. We recently got a new director and we are getting more progressive staff, though this dog is still a sore subject. Most of the old staff want her euthanized (Most have not met her) and others just have given up on even placing her. I have reached out to rescues but to no avail. 

    I took her into my home for close to 8 weeks and she was PERFECT  (house broken, non destructive, lazy, self entertaining, ect). I have cats which she does not like but staying with me made it clear she could easily go to a home with a self aware individual. Advice for approaching the subject of her with the new director? This dog is certainly our "dirty secret" type and  breaking that down to find placement as one person has proven difficult. She is not allowed on social media per some people because she causes problems (she has a huge fan base and the shelter does not like discussing questions about her restrictions.)

    Advice?? I adore this dog and want to find her nothing but a good ending.
    #Adoptions and Adoption Programs
    #Case Management *

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    Haley VanDeWalle

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  • 2.  RE: Advice on placing a long term dog

    Posted 25 days ago
    Hi Haley,
    First, I would not consider it a dirty little secret that you have protected the dog as needed just because it's taken longer than usual. There is nothing wrong with caution; just look at all that has gone wrong without caution.  
    To your question:  I would consider reaching out to previous adopters (or friends, colleagues, etc) whom you trust and discuss the dog with them individually. I have placed many dogs this way.  
    A secondary upside is that if you approach it right, the person will probably feel the reach-out as a compliment to them.
    I would also tell the adopter that you will provide private behavior training with them and the dog before they decide for sure, because you want them to feel really comfortable rather than pressured.
    -R

    On Wed, Sep 22, 2021 at 2:34 PM Haley VanDeWalle via Maddie's Pet Forum <Mail@maddiesfund.org> wrote:
    I am the (new) Behavior Coordinator for my shelter. Before my current position I was animal care staff for almost 3 years. We have a dog in our... -posted to the "Animal Welfare Professionals Community" community/group
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    Haley VanDeWalle
    Sep 22, 2021 2:35 PM
    Haley VanDeWalle
    I am the (new) Behavior Coordinator for my shelter. Before my current position I was animal care staff for almost 3 years. We have a dog in our care that has been with us since December of 2017. As an open admission shelter it is staggering to have a dog that long. Our previous director had a very old fashioned approach with things and though she passed her assessment and quickly became a staff favorite, she had blanket restrictions in place that made it nearly impossible for anyone to even meet her. 

    She has broken down to the point strangers cannot touch her. She is very non reactive with them but if someone she doesnt know tries to touch her she will snap at them. She is also very animal reactive and has a bite incident towards another dog before she came to us. We recently got a new director and we are getting more progressive staff, though this dog is still a sore subject. Most of the old staff want her euthanized (Most have not met her) and others just have given up on even placing her. I have reached out to rescues but to no avail. 

    I took her into my home for close to 8 weeks and she was PERFECT  (house broken, non destructive, lazy, self entertaining, ect). I have cats which she does not like but staying with me made it clear she could easily go to a home with a self aware individual. Advice for approaching the subject of her with the new director? This dog is certainly our "dirty secret" type and  breaking that down to find placement as one person has proven difficult. She is not allowed on social media per some people because she causes problems (she has a huge fan base and the shelter does not like discussing questions about her restrictions.)

    Advice?? I adore this dog and want to find her nothing but a good ending.
    #AdoptionsandAdoptionPrograms
    #CaseManagement*

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    Haley VanDeWalle

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    Rain Jordan, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP  
    Fearful Dogs Specialist

     

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  • 3.  RE: Advice on placing a long term dog

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 24 days ago
    Cases like these are very dear to my heart. I have some thoughts for you and would love to chat on Zoom. If you're interested, you can pick a date & time here:  https://calendly.com/duer/fosterconsult  and I'll send the Zoom link when you do.

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    Kelly Duer
    Maddie's Fund
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  • 4.  RE: Advice on placing a long term dog

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 24 days ago
    Hi Haley,

    This sounds like a really frustrating experience. Does this dog have a bite history to humans? Do you know anything else about the dog's behavior before they were surrendered?

    I like Rain's suggestion of reaching out to previous owners, both to collect historical info if yo don't have it, and to see if their life circumstances have changed or they might know anyone. 

    I'd be approaching your director with a discussion about trauma and the impact of long term life in the shelter on dog behavior and that the behavior they'r eseeing might PRIMARILY be related to a traumatic shelter experience.  I'd also talk about  the fact that this dog doesn't have a bite history to people  (if they don't).   This dog has had so many opportunities to bite people and has chosen not to. that's amazing!  I'd petition to get her to a new (experienced) foster home (and if you don't have one, find one via social media), and then a less experienced foster home.   And if she does well,  wow!   Let's loosen restrictions and allow her an opportunity.  

    Sheila

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    Sheila Segurson, DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Maddie's Fund
    9258608284
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  • 5.  RE: Advice on placing a long term dog

    Posted 23 days ago
    Hi Haley,

    Congrats on your new position! Without knowing what the restrictions are with this particular dog, my advice would be two things. First (like others have mentioned), a long term foster wouldn't hurt at all and would make this dog's stay so much more comfortable. Since you have all the beta on how she has done in foster, you can share that info when looking for a new foster home. And since she sounds like a great house guest, finding a long term foster shouldn't be too hard (easier said than done sometimes though).

    Secondly, since you have a new director, now might be a really great opportunity to explore changing up the culture on an organizational level in your shelter. It sounds like from your email, many staff are stuck in the "old ways" of doing things and with new leadership, this could be a great chance for you to offer some new ideas on how to make some operational changes for the better. The one thing that keeps coming to mind is that she has such a big social media fan base. Maybe with this new director, showcasing her in this way and marketing all the great qualities to the masses is how this sweet girl will find her forever home. Posting videos of her in the home, showing her lounging on the couch, etc. could be such a great way for others to see the good you see! If I were in your position, I would schedule a meeting with the new director one-on-one and present (in a very organized fashion) some new, fresh ideas. With the support of your new boss a cultural shift could be a real possibility.

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    Erin Ellis
    Community Engagement Director
    Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe

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    Volunteer & Community Partnerships Specialist
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