Within the shelter and rescue community, there is much controversy surrounding the term “no kill” and this term is often used incorrectly. As Marie Belew Wheatley, former CEO of American Humane, noted in a blog post from August 2009, “Although ‘no-kill’ certainly sounds like a good thing, it is merely a simple, two-word slogan that does not even begin to explain a very complex reality.” At DVGRR, we believe that reality includes the fact that not every animal can nor should be placed into a new home, if doing so would seriously jeopardize the animal and/or the humans in the home.
We will NEVER euthanize an adoptable DVGRR dog due to lack of space, i.e., if our kennel might be filled to capacity. We have a foster home network to rely upon should this situation arise.
However, while our goal is to help as many Goldens, Doodles, Labs, and Golden-hearted dogs as we can, there are times when we have a dog in our program that we do not feel we can place due to safety issues. As much as it may be hard to imagine aggressive behavior in a Golden Retriever (or similar breed), the fact is that in some cases it can and does exist. We are deeply committed to placing dogs responsibly into new homes. We will therefore humanely euthanize any DVGRR dog that has clearly demonstrated signs of aggression, which may include severe inter-species aggression, resource guarding, and/or biting.
Additionally, there are some dogs that come to us when their owners cannot deal with a serious health issue or do not tell us about it, and we discover that the dog is terminally ill. In such cases, we will continue to provide for this dog, either at our kennel facility or in a hospice home, until they no longer have an acceptable quality of life. At that point, in conjunction with our veterinarian’s advice, we again humanely euthanize the dog.
We do not take ANY of these situations lightly and often consult with behaviorists and/or veterinarians before making the final decision to euthanize, whether for aggressive behavior or health. A staff member always stays with the DVGRR dog during the euthanasia, no matter how emotionally painful or difficult that may be. Our staff grieves for the dogs, but takes comfort in knowing how many healthy, behaviorally sound DVGRR dogs we have and will continue to place into new homes.
We know this can be an emotionally difficult topic and we therefore encourage open dialogue, while at the same time striving for as much joint knowledge, understanding, and awareness as possible.
* NOTE: use of “Golden,” “Goldens,” “Golden Retriever” or “Golden Retrievers” includes Golden Retrievers, Doodles, Labrador Retrievers, and any other Golden mix that might be resident in the program.