Just last night I was thinking how I had nothing to write about this week. Wouldn't that be nice. Today, a Facebook post appeared concerning Jade, a 3 year old adopted galga who had just been euthanized by her adopter, supposedly for "fear and behavior problems." This, after her rescuers had saved her from the typical torment that most galgas face in Spain, and after she managed to overcome and escape that life. Oh and by the way, the adopter did not bother to contact the rescue for help or even to ask if the rescue would like Jade back before taking her to be killed. The rescue was not notified at all.
Other photos and comments and even videos of the galga found on the social media site appear to depict a happy, comfortable, playful, seemingly well-adjusted dog who got along with the other family dog and the child in the family as well. It appears Jade had been with the family for at least a couple of years before meeting her death at the family vet's office. What went wrong? Eventually it was stated that she had "nipped" a child. More specifically, Jade was sleeping, the child disturbed her, and Jade, startled, reacted naturally with a nip from her sleep state. No one was hurt; there wasn't even skin broken.
Anyone who knows greyhounds, galgos, or indeed most any dog, knows this natural behavior as "sleep startle" or, as the less dog savvy person might call it, "sleep aggression." It is not fair to call it aggression, however, since a dog who reacts this way is not being aggressive; she is simply responding to being startled from a deep sleep. This might even be where the saying "Let sleeping dogs lie" comes from. (Many people would do the very same thing, though they would yell, hit, or kick rather than nip.) But just in case this isn't obvious to everyone, we put it in our adoption contracts – DO NOT DISTURB YOUR DOG WHILE S/HE IS SLEEPING OR EATING – as I'm sure other rescues do, too.
Children are often biters. What do you do when a child bites someone? Just wondering.
We also have no-euthanasia clauses in our adoption contracts, and liquidated damages clauses for breaches of contract, as at least some other rescues do. But whether the adopter in this case suffers any legal consequences is really secondary here. And while the person who killed Jade will, I hope, not be given another galga, that doesn't help Jade, does it? Nor does it unbreak the hearts of those who rescued her.
It seems that the tendency of people toward hair trigger if a dog even looks at a child the wrong way is without borders. Adopters are, every now and then, killers; sadly, Jade's story is not unheard of in the rescue community. When an adopter kills the dog s/he had promised to love and protect forever, rescuers all over the world know about it, grieve over it, and get really, really angry. Jade was killed in Brussels, but there have been several cases like hers in other countries as well. We would like to see this stop. I must assume, since you are here, reading this, that you would like it to stop as well. Wouldn't you? We need a miracle.
Until that miracle comes-and what would it be, exactly?- I'd like to suggest something very simple: If you have a problem with your rescue dog, just call the rescue from which s/he came and either follow their instructions exactly (e.g., hire an R+ trainer, and/or train your kids to behave properly around your dog) or give the dog back to the rescue. It's that simple.
In fact, if you don't follow your contract, your rescue's instructions, and/or give the dog back, you are probably in breach of contract. And if you don't, whatever happens next is your fault, not the dog's. If the dog does something you don't like after that, it's your fault for knowing there's a problem and not calling the rescue. If you punish the dog instead of train everyone involved, it's your fault. If you ignore the dog, it's your fault. If you give the dog to someone else, whatever happens to the dog after that is your fault. If you take the dog to the shelter, the fact that it will likely languish, get sick, and die there, or be adopted by someone else worse than you, is your fault. And if you take the dog to be euthanized because you just can't deal with this anymore, that death is all your fault, as is the guilt and shame that you will carry with you the rest of your life, whether you realize it or not-and whatever baggage from this experience that drifts over to your child? That's your fault too.
Oh and if you get sued, that's definitely your fault.
---- PS To you veterinarians who agree to euthanize these dogs: I suggest you take responsibility for your actions as well because eventually the rescues are going to get tired of this behavior and come looking to you who should know better for accountability. If someone asks you to kill a dog that is NOT terminal, the very least you can do is 1) ask for evidence of where the dog came from and then contact that rescue to come and retrieve the dog, and/or 2) contact another rescue to see if they can save the dog from unnecessary death. You are in the business of SAVING lives, are you not?