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Shelter Shopping

While putting together our evacuation plan, I needed to look up some phone numbers of local shelters. As I clicked around, I realized that one of them uses old-fashioned, dominance-based, often inhumane strategies to train shelter dogs. Apparently, they offer classes in this method to community members. They even claim that issues like fear, aggression, and such are quickly and easily solved using these methods. I FELT SICK. I’ve always known that all shelters, humane societies, rescue groups, or whatever are NOT created equal, but this came as a tremendous shock to me.

It’s one thing to struggle in an old building. It’s another to have old ideas (or terrible ones sold as “new”) — and to brag about it.

For me, it’s a DEAL BREAKER.

What do you look for, or what would make you run away, in your search for just the right dog adoption agency?

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Holly - August 29, 2008

Wow, I am suprised that the ‘old-school way’ of training is rearing its head, especially in a shelter, of all places. I never understood how people equate bullying with improving behavior!

One of the shelters I volunteer at has great classes. When I took my GSP/Cattle Dog pup through the Puppy Kindegarten, one thing I really appreciated was supervised play with the other puppies. This shelter also has basic obedience classes, rally-o & CGC preparation/testing.

Staff incompetance/apathy is one thing that is really frustrating to me as a shelter visitor and volunteer. When incorrect or exaggerated information about an animal is given or posted on a website, it creates problems. Being honest and realistic seems like the best way to have successful adoptions.

I adopted my Border Collie from this shelter ( and had a GREAT experience. He was the first dog I adopted and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Not only were we able to meet with and walk him, but there had been a pretty in depth behavior screening done. In addition to medical type information, there were comments along with how he reacted around other dogs, cats, when brushed, when restrained, when told “no”, etc.
Looking back on it today, the evaluation was right on and incredibly helpful.

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