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Unread 01-11-2013, 10:10 PM   #1
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Default Do shelter pets need a sad sob story to be adopted?

From volunteering in a shelter regularly for a year, I do know that they have a habit of "stretching" things a bit to make the dogs seem more adoptable. A few years will get shaved off here and there, because younger dogs are usually more desirable. A pit bull looking mongrel becomes a "staffy mix" or an "American bulldog cross", because those breeds don't have the stigma that pits and their mixes do.

They also often come with sad sob stories. I came across this in one of the groups I belong to on Facebook: Discussion: Do Shelter Pets Need a Sob Story and a Sarah McLachlan Song to Get Adopted? YesBiscuit!

What do you think? This too happened frequently in the shelter. I don't think it was done on purpose like adjusting the reported age or breed. Usually it's because they were upset and angry that dogs came in in such horrible conditions sometimes, or a dog that they want to love on is too fearful to come out of it's corner and they empathize. But there's no doubt the "stories" are often played up when somebody shows interest in adopting the dogs.
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Unread 01-11-2013, 11:09 PM   #2
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Dogs with 'sob story' haven't been my experiences with shelters here. I do think that may be a result of several factors though. This area is known as a destination for dogs needing homes from other parts of the country-some areas have even experienced shortages of adoptable dogs-, so that 'inducements' to give a home to a dog in need don't seem to be as necessary. I think, too, the number of rescues and private organizations assisting with adoptions have resulted in fairly sophisticated adopters and that, coupled with fairly good networking between these organizations and behavioral support programs, seems to have worked out to yield fairly honest appraisals and good dog/home matches.
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Unread 01-12-2013, 01:04 AM   #3
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Well I do think it works, dogs with sob stories get adopted quicker, but personally I think it is the ethically dubious rescues that need to resort to this kind of tactic. I think it is usually a smoke screen for some fairly undesirable behaviour or health condition, I think it tends to attract the wrong kind of adopters, and encourage people to treat them in a way that is less than helpful.

My feeling is if the dog is an excellent pet dog prospect, who has a lot going for it in terms of age, health, temperament etc then you don't have to rely on a sob story. An adopter who is making an informed considered decision is far more likely to succeed than one that 'feels sorry' for the dog. I don't want someone who can't afford another dog, didn't really want one, wasn't looking etc but was attracted to the sob story or a threat to PTS by a certain date.

If a dog isn't getting adotped, there is more often than not a valid reason why, and glossing over it is not ethical.

'Bleeding heart' types tend to make decisions to adopt on an emotional basis, and with the best of intentions, but often make poor choices for their lifestyle and experience, and very often they don't succeed in those adoptions long term. Those who actually do have behavioural and handling knowledge can read between the lines and will know how to assess the dog in front of them without relying on a sob story. Rescues need to look at long term success in placements, not just how many dogs leave the building.

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Unread 01-12-2013, 07:13 AM   #4
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Well my slant on this is this type of over doing the stories behind each dog is not only misleading to the average man in the street who is often gulible and 'often' will get taken in by these stories but can be dangerous and will sometimes lead the dog to be taken back in a shelter's care. Obviously when no history has been given to a shelter then it's very difficult to have a story to tell! Shelters that hide the truth (when the truth is known) IMO aren't doing their job correctly and often the poor dog in question suffers due to this And in answer to the title's question No it doesn't matter but if it's a genuine story then it can help a dog find a new home
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Unread 01-12-2013, 08:54 AM   #5
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Well I can only go from what I have experience from.
and the shelter who is linked to a rescue group where I am, they have not used sob stories to get dogs adopted. Our dogs (most of them) come from the same STREET.. and they are breed and trained for fight most of the time. Most of them haven't been started though, but they def have been fought. So in our case the stories are def true, we also do not hide age on a dog, we even have one that is likely going into kidney failure, they did blood work on him I haven't heard the answer yet, but a couple are interested in him and we told them the truth and they said: well we do not care, we knew he was a special needs senior and he deserves to be loved on his old age even if it is just for a few weeks.. we do not want people to return them, and we have a lot of tricky dogs so we almost do the opposite, try to scare them a little so they think twice.. On the other hands, we have some of the most spoilt shelter dogs you will ever meet..

and the city shelters, they are honest about it when you read the descriptions.. If it was an owner drop off, if it was a stray, recorded scars etc... but again, a picture say a thousand words.. when you see a puppy who are skin and bones, Im sorry but that is screaming starvation..

however, I have seen other rescues with their miss labeling, and yes it bugs me to no end.. 1 I feel it might leave a sour taste in peoples mouth to ever wanna rescue again.. I got an old dog with problems they didn't tell me about.. lets try a breeder kinda deal.. and 2. I recently saw a story where a family returned a dog because they found out it was a pit mix.. I don't know if that shelter miss labeled or the family was just retarded, but either way... those things are more likely to happen and that is not fair to the dog..

Rescues always talk about being ethical to animals, what about being ethical to humans..

However, a lot of the sob stories are often true.. which is the really sad part..
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Unread 01-12-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
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Rescues always talk about being ethical to animals, what about being ethical to humans..
Yes, this is a VERY important and sometimes overlooked concept in rescue.

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Unread 01-13-2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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every dog that's in a shelter has a sob story, whether we know about it or not...that's why they're in a shelter. it's simply a matter of degree imo.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 04:45 PM   #8
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They may HAVE a sob story, but that doesn't mean that the rescue needs to trade on it in order to apply emotional blackmail to potential adopters. If the dog is a genuinely excellent pet prospect, then all that is required is being honest about the dog's temperament and traits.

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Unread 01-14-2013, 05:59 PM   #9
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They may HAVE a sob story, but that doesn't mean that the rescue needs to trade on it in order to apply emotional blackmail to potential adopters. If the dog is a genuinely excellent pet prospect, then all that is required is being honest about the dog's temperament and traits.
Yes, this is more the point I was trying to bring to discussion.

Of course it's sad when a dog ends up at a shelter.

But say you have one dog who was onwed by a family. He was loved, was a trained house dog, great temperament. Maybe the family had an emergency, and the shelter was the only option they had. Or maybe he got out by accident, took off, and was taken in by the shelter as a stray, and his owners couldn't be found.

Then you have another. He was found emaciated with cuts and bruises, left in a dumpster to die. He's got some major emotional baggage and really needs a special person to take him...He's not going to make a good family dog, or a good dog for your average dog owner.

Is it right to exploit the second dog's story to get him adopted? I'd be afraid of the dog going with somebody who can't give him what he needs, but only took him because they felt sorry. An emotional decision. The first dog, already trained and housebroken and socialized, would likely be a better pet for 90% of the people who walk into a shelter looking for a dog. I'd rather see the second dog euthanized than have to suffer more from changing hands so often and incurring more emotional damage, or even worse, harming other dogs or people and endangering them.

Is it right to take the first dog's story and twist it judgmentally to make it seem even worse? It's already sad that he ended up there. But do we really need to judge his owners and tell potential adopters that he was "abandoned", essentially unloved, and had a horrible home? Maybe his owners didn't exhaust all options before they gave him up, or maybe they should have had the dog microchipped. But that doesn't make them bad people, deserving to be thought of on the same level as the people who put dog 2 in a dumpster to die.
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Unread 01-14-2013, 06:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugardog View Post
Yes, this is more the point I was trying to bring to discussion.

Of course it's sad when a dog ends up at a shelter.

But say you have one dog who was onwed by a family. He was loved, was a trained house dog, great temperament. Maybe the family had an emergency, and the shelter was the only option they had. Or maybe he got out by accident, took off, and was taken in by the shelter as a stray, and his owners couldn't be found.

Then you have another. He was found emaciated with cuts and bruises, left in a dumpster to die. He's got some major emotional baggage and really needs a special person to take him...He's not going to make a good family dog, or a good dog for your average dog owner.

Is it right to exploit the second dog's story to get him adopted? I'd be afraid of the dog going with somebody who can't give him what he needs, but only took him because they felt sorry. An emotional decision. The first dog, already trained and housebroken and socialized, would likely be a better pet for 90% of the people who walk into a shelter looking for a dog. I'd rather see the second dog euthanized than have to suffer more from changing hands so often and incurring more emotional damage, or even worse, harming other dogs or people and endangering them.

Is it right to take the first dog's story and twist it judgmentally to make it seem even worse? It's already sad that he ended up there. But do we really need to judge his owners and tell potential adopters that he was "abandoned", essentially unloved, and had a horrible home? Maybe his owners didn't exhaust all options before they gave him up, or maybe they should have had the dog microchipped. But that doesn't make them bad people, deserving to be thought of on the same level as the people who put dog 2 in a dumpster to die.
Sugardog I quite agree with your comments! But will dissagree on one point where you sat He is not going to make a good family dog Quote me if I am wrong on this persons name though! Remember Michael Hickey who did horrendous things to his own dogs some have been rehomed with 'familys' and the changes are unbelievable that such abused dogs could learn to trust humans again So basicaly even baggaged and abused dogs can be turned
around but it's even sadder when some shelters are not telling the truth when they do know the history of a dog I can see why the do change the stories but in my book it makes them as bad as some of the owners that dump their dog(s) or worse have abused them for a long time and it doesn't take a trained eye in the most serious of cases to know that a dog has been abused or totaly neglected.
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