At penny-pinched county shelters, the question looms especially large: How much time and energy can be spent on one dog?
"If a dog that is pet-aggressive takes three months to find a home and an overall well-tempered dog takes two weeks, you could save six dogs in the time you had that pet aggressive animal in a kennel," the shelter staffer explains. "That's not to say that animals are just numbers in a shelter. They aren't. Shelter workers take each euthanasia decision very seriously and it's something that is emotional and very challenging. But in the end, the goal of most shelters is to save as many animals as they possible can."
At the other end of the spectrum, MSPCA-Angell, a privately funded shelter system in Massachusetts, has managed to dramatically reduce its kill rate to the point where it's almost negligible.
"If a shelter can garner the resources," Terri Bright, the organization's director of behavior services, tells The Dodo, "if they have good behaviorists, if they have good volunteers, then they can help more dogs to hang in there until they get adopted."