Should We Save Them All

Should we save them all? and can they all be saved?

Extremists who want to save them all, every time, and at any cost. Extremists view rescues and shelters that operate responsibly as cold-hearted killers. Responsible rescuing entails, ensuring that dogs with serious behavioral issues and/or serious bite histories are not the dogs on which they focus their rescue/adoption efforts.

Resources for rescue are not endless, and they only exist because of the rescue’s supporters. Rescues make decisions every day on how and when to spend those supportive donation resources. They not only have an obligation to the dogs in their care, but they also have an obligation to be stewards of the resources their supporters have supplied them. To use them in the best way possible and where they will have the most significant impact.

The Question

Every day, hundreds of well-behaved dogs euthanized in shelters. The question is whether rescues should invest time, effort, and money in several dogs with good temperaments and good behavior or save one dog with severe aggressive issues. Most people have an easy time making that decision. Still, some have a “save them all” mentality and are unaware of the resources required to rehabilitate a dog like this. If they can rehabilitate them at all. Or how a rescue will be able to find a home with the necessary experience to manage severe aggression issues and ensure that they do not occur again.

Saving every dog, regardless of incident is an extremist view. They have all the advice to give, but are they willing to take in the dog? See the dog through training? Manage the behavior the dog is exhibiting or changing their whole lifestyle for the benefit of this dog? Be liable for the dog? No, they are not.

Victim Blaming

Victim blaming can run rampant and does. When a dog bites, everyone tries to find why the dog bit, and usually, for the dog, there is a reason; it just might not be a good, acceptable reason. Humans are the actual cause of these types of situations. Many dogs that bite come from poor breeding practices, poor nutritional care, lack of veterinary care, proper training, socialization, and management.

Humans are responsible for properly caring for the dogs they bring into their lives, but there is a lack of dog care knowledge amongst dog owners. When there is a tragedy, the dog pays the ultimate price because of a human error. It will always be a human error at fault, but that won’t change anything once there is a tragedy and there’s no going back after it happens.

Dog Bites and Liability

Dog bites are not all the same. Rehabilitating, retraining and safely placed into responsible homes with minimal management; works for some dogs, for others this is not possible.

A documented incident, where and a human has required medical attention and/or hospitalization, or another dog is dead, you have profound legal implications. These incidents are not something to be taken lightly. Liability is the part that some “rescues” and “save them all people” ignore when trying to justify saving a dog like this. Requiring full disclosure, and typically a dog such as this will have been declared legally dangerous.

This disclosure brings legal requirements that must be met. The probability an adopter that has not yet been found will have the resources or the ability to provide such conditions for a dog they have not even met yet are slim to none. The rescue would also have to meet these requirements as well while rehabilitating and housing this dog. No rescue that chooses to take in dogs like this is going to be eligible for insurance.


The legalities don’t stop there., no matter how many release papers you sign. IF anything ever were to happen again, if you place a dog that has severely bitten, maimed, or killed. And, you know what that dog is capable of and has previously done. When you place that dog into another home, the legal responsibility is still yours. Lawsuits are rampant in today’s world. In cases like these, past behavior is indicative of future behavior. Everything a rescue or owner has worked for could be gone in a heartbeat.

Suppressing Behavior and Sanctuaries

When rescues choose to take in these types of dogs, you will find that they are typically “rehabilitated” with negative training. Shock collars, particularly inboard and train facilities where no one sees what they are doing to the dog. Making the dog suppress the behavior appears as if the behavior has been corrected, and gone away, until one day the dog explodes.

When that doesn’t work, they may try to send them off to a sanctuary. There are good ones out there, but there are also bad ones who just warehouse dogs. Being alive isn’t all that matters, quality of life matters so much more. Is it fair to these dogs to have to live a life of isolation or with a poor quality of life? Dogs live in the moment and live for attention; being alive without the quality of life can make them even more unstable, unpredictable, and miserable.

At the End of the Day

​Rescue is not easy. No one ever wants to make these decisions. They are hard to make, and they hurt your spirit deeply. But sometimes letting them go is the kindest thing you can do to give them peace and release their demons.