Once I knew a woman who played both sides of the fence -- she liked to rescue dogs and she liked to rescue cats. At any given moment she had a number of animals of both breeds sharing her house. That is, until one of her rescue dogs ripped a mother cat in pieces and killed her. Then she stopped rescuing cats because, shortly after that, our organization relieved her of the burden.
Would you do this?
It's not a hypothetical situation.
You are an older couple with three middle aged cats. All three cats are declawed and one is so arthritic he cannot get up on the couch without assistance. He doesn't move very fast. He has always lived indoors with gentle people and animals and doesn't have a clue how to defend himself.
You decide to adopt a dog from the shelter. She's a nice, short-haired dog, perfect size for you, and one year old. She's obviously a pit bull mix (not that it should matter, but it does, a little). She's really sweet and wonderful and docile and shows every sign of getting along with cats. Her previous record shows she lived with cats and likes them.
There's just one problem. She was turned in to the shelter because the owner said, "She kills my chickens." She was an indoor/outdoor dog in a rural situation and learned quickly. If you take the former owner literally, then this is a habit now, because he said "chickens" -- meaning more than one.
I am all for giving doggies a second chance. Everyone makes a mistake now and then and it should not mean they have to die for it (this dog was adopted from a no-kill shelter, and is VERY adoptable) or live behind bars forever.
However, thinking in terms of the safety of my current pets, I would not adopt a dog with a chicken killing record. What if she gets bored and starts thinking cats and chickens are about the same size and are just about equally amusing?
Cats with claws can easily set a 25 lb dog straight. In fact, cats with claws can defend themselves against 80 lb canine bullies in many cases. But an arthritic cat who needs a special stool to even climb up to the level of a couch, with no front claws? I wouldn't consider putting that cat with any dog that didn't have a perfect record with smaller animals.
I can live with a dog (or cat) who bites. I have done this most of my life and I have the scars to prove it. I can live with a dog who snaps or growls. Done that. I am not one to throw a dog in the shelter because he nips a child.
But killing? Plural killing?
I would think twice about putting an animal that kills with smaller, infirm creatures.
There is rescuing and then there is downright bad judgment.
The irony is that most people won't even consider hiring a convicted felon to run a cash register, no matter how much they've reformed themselves. The risk is small in cases like that, and the reward, if you give a person a chance, is great. However, because animals are cute, cuddly, innocent and fur-covered we think we can make these leaps of faith.
What would you do?
The dog is really winsome. I have to admit she's adorable and sounds terrific. But if she killed chickens in her past life, I would not want to take the chance unless I knew my current animals could stand her down in a conflict.
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