As a volunteer with DVGRR, you should be aware of and understand DVGRR’s policies regarding euthanasia. This topic can understandably generate much emotion and unfortunately has the potential to lead to significant discord within any organization involved in animal welfare.
In order to enhance working relationships and promote a positive volunteer experience, it is our goal to ensure that all prospective volunteers understand our position on this topic prior to becoming involved with us.
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 or 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 dogs “with hearts of Gold” 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 he no longer has 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.
As a prospective volunteer, please think carefully about how these policies will affect you in your work with DVGRR. If your personal philosophy regarding euthanasia differs significantly from ours, we believe it may be best for your emotional health not to pursue a volunteer relationship with us.
If you join our volunteer community, and at any time feel a need to discuss concerns about euthanasia, please bring them to our attention via our Volunteer Manager and not through other staff members or co-volunteers.
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.