A dog’s life or death

Newcastle Herald – Jeff Corbett; Oct 26 2012

ABANDONED or unwanted dogs have been killed in RSPCA shelters and council pounds ever since we’ve had the shelters and pounds, but suddenly a temperament test to determine which dog lives or dies has created a furore.

Among the tests used by the RSPCA to determine a dog’s temperament is its willingness to bark at or chase a cat, and predictably many dog lovers are outraged that this doggy trait is deemed to indicate a poor or bad temperament.

The greater protest, though, is just below the furore, and that concerns a dog’s right to live and whether we have the right to kill a dog for reasons other than health. There is also the issue of an owner’s responsibility for a dog, and whether an owner should be permitted to recant that ownership and responsibility as easily as they do now.

Here’s what you had to say.

Bush bunny: ‘‘Looks like they are man’s best friend only when it suits. Suits the humans, that is. The RSPCA is between a rock and a real hard place. I too disagree with methods used to test dogs’ temperaments but the RSPCA would need some other test to thin the number of unwanted doggies. I wonder how they judge a cat’s temperament.’’

Mike: ‘‘It is not the test, it is the way that the test is used as an excuse to kill, which was never its purpose. It was first presented as a tool to understand the animal and better prepare for its rehabilitation.’’

Border collie: ‘‘Should former owners, as you suggest, Jeff, be forced to pay dog support for their abandoned dogs? This position would reduce the need for animal shelters as there would be a significant reduction in abandoned animals allied with a significant increase in a shovel behind the ear. If you have the cold-hearted ability to abandon a pet, it is highly unlikely that you are going to put yourself in a position of financial liability. At the risk of stating the obvious, people generally buy pets for the wrong reasons and fail to understand the underlying responsibility. Cats allowed to roam at night at the expense of local fauna, dogs dumped in the backyard all day and expected to sit obediently and quietly awaiting the return of the owner. Many owners who do humanise their pets probably relate better to their moggy or pup than they do to the general human race. Perhaps euthanasia is the kindest cut for abandoned animals – the frail human condition is not going to improve any time soon. Dogs have a right to a humane life.’’

MizJasper: ‘‘I would recommend one of the first things highlighted in this debate should be the RSPCA’s own charter, which states: ‘‘Animals have an intrinsic value of their own and, accordingly, must be considered to possess the right to live in a way which enables them to have a positive life and to develop and enjoy their inherent qualities.’’ This promise does not hold true if the RSPCA kill the animals. Then go to the organisation’s annual report and see how many donations and bequests are received. For what?’’

Pound pooch: ‘‘So very well said! We need to stop the over-breeding of dogs in the first place. Stop the puppy factories and the backyard breeders supplementing their welfare payments tax free. Stop the sale of these living creatures in pet shops, newspaper ads and over the internet.  Stop the source and the problem disappears. I’m still scratching my head at the arrogance of the human race questioning if the other creatures we share this earth with actually have the right to live. Sickening.’’

Kimbo: ‘‘The temperament test debate is incredibly complex. My belief is that the idea is an attempt to predict the behaviour of the animal, and therefore decide what sort of home would suit it – a home with no cats, for example, if cats are a problem. The testing should be done by qualified people and not involve a pass or fail. Consider it more like matchmaking.’’

Daisy-k: ‘‘The RSPCA’s kill rates are very disappointing, especially considering their strong profits.  But the real problem are irresponsible owners and breeders. More animals should be desexed and more people banned from animal ownership.’’

Original here, plus Readers’ comments

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4 Comments

Filed under NSW, RSPCA NSW, Temperament test

4 responses to “A dog’s life or death

  1. H. B.

    This is very disappointing to read, especially when the RSPCA market themselves as ‘a caring, animal loving instituation’ It’s certainly time that the government investigated institutions that take public money (by the millions) and where and how it is used and how many lives that money actually saves.
    Of course puppy farming and pet shop sales need to be outlawed, but once an animal arrives in a pound, except for (real) aggression and serious suffering, there should be a decent chance that the animal leaves alive.

  2. I agree with Pound Pooch, MzJasper, and Kimbo. Time for the RSPCA to start handing out a big share of their income to the grassroots rescue groups, who are doing the real work in saving animals. And they are mostly doing it for free, in between paid work, caring for children, and other volunteer work, not for the kind of salary I imagine Steve Coleman is bringing in!

  3. Annelies Craig

    I loathe that word Temperament in regards to assessing animal behaviour. Temperament for a start means our natural way of behaving to our environment, its for the most part genetical. Whereas character is based on experiences and habits and both of these form our personality. A better word that I would be using would be behaviour tests, and these must be done over a certain period of time, not just over a two day period, I am looking at weeks, weeks I am sure that is not often afforded to the said animal – time costs money, unfortunately As each animal goes into these shelters they are stressed which often presents itself by some animals being quiet and withdrawn and others barking and nervous, jumping and voiding, which is highly understandable. I think quite often the best way to assess an animal’s behaviour is within a home environment, fostering can offer this and I have seen highly stressed, pacing dogs come out of these stressful environments to become calm, loving and loyal companions, even when there are children around. If behaviour tests are to be carried out they need to encompass means and ways in increasing the likelihood that these dogs are adopted, not euthanased . If people are relinquishing their companions a questionnaire can be given pertaining to that pet’s behaviour whilst in their home, bearing in mind that, that home might not have been suitable for that particular pet. They also need to pay a up front before relinquishing their pet. However the bottom line is this…we need animal education brought onto every school curriculum, we need to close down these horrendous puppy mills, regulate unlicensed back yard breeders, prohibit the selling of animals in pet shops and seek the assistance of the RSPCA encouraging them to offer subsidised de-sexing programmes. Companions animals have a right to life.

  4. Rhian

    I watched a program where a temperament test was done (I believe it LDH) and they had a bouncy joyous puppy pulling at a leash probably no older than 16 weeks. The trainer said if it cannot be pulled into line within 10 days it would not be suitable for adoption. So I expect the RSPCA to be very similar. How many puppies fail I wonder at both institutions. The whole thing is ridiculous. Too old, fails, Too sick, fails. Too timid fails. Too out there fails… So very very sad

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