Response: Why I Wouldn’t Buy A Dog From The SPCA


Yesterday an article was published by The Gazette online that was an opinion piece entitled: Why I Wouldn’t Buy A Dog From The SPCA. The author described three specific adoptions, one of which was by the author, another by her daughter, and the third by a friend of the author, in which the animals adopted did not work out well. After reading the descriptions of the situations, it’s clear to me that the issue is not necessarily with the dogs or the SPCA, but rather with the owners of these dogs. Expecting an animal that you take home from the SPCA (or any pet store for that matter) to come home with you and immediately fit in with no training needed is unrealistic. Each of the dogs she described needed training to help it assimilate into its new environment, but clearly the author, her daughter and her friend were unable (or unwilling) to provide it.

DOG 1: “When my son wanted a dog, he went to the SPCA and chose the most pathetic dog he saw: an adult Shepherd-Lab-Rottweiler mix. The animal was cowering in the corner of his cage and my son’s heart went out to the dog. It took three months after getting the dog home to get it to come out of the basement; the dog was terrified! But with a lot of love and patience, he managed to gain the dog’s trust. The dog, however, had issues with other males and would get into fights. After three years and many fights (the last one causing 18 stitches to my son’s dog), my son decided to put the dog down. It broke his heart. That dog should never have been sold by the SPCA. Its dominant nature was probably why the previous owner gave the dog to the SPCA in the first place.”

1) Dog 1 sounds fearful, not outwardly aggressive. Fearful dogs can be worked with and the results can be amazing! All it takes is a little effort and dedication on behalf of the owner. The shelter I worked with had a special program instilled to help socialize fearful dogs to help them get more comfortable and get them out of their shells. It takes patience, but I cannot tell you how many dogs have done a complete 180 with a little investment of time! For information on fearful body language in dogs, please see Dr. Sophia Yin’s poster and information on fearful dogs and training, please visit:

DOG 2: “Friends of ours decided to buy at the SPCA after losing their beloved family pet. They chose a Lab-Rottweiler mix about a year old. The dog had toilet-training issues, and after eight months of having their carpets, beds and couches sprayed with urine, our friends decided to give up the fight and return the dog to the SPCA. It broke their hearts to do it, as they knew it would be a difficult dog to adopt. That dog should never have been sold by the SPCA either.”

2) Dog 2 needs a little basic potty training at the very least. Or perhaps this dog has urinary incontinence and needs to be seen by a veterinarian! Clearly the adopted owners did not care to investigate a possible medical cause for the inappropriate urination, but rather gave up on the dog altogether. Urinary incontinence is a common issue in dogs and it can very well be managed or surgically corrected if the cause is identified. Of course, that requires owners to put in a little time and perhaps some money. (Though chances are it will be cheaper than the cost of purchasing a pure-bred puppy.)

DOG 3: “My daughter chose her dog at the SPCA also, a Golden Lab-Boxer mix. That was five years ago. The dog has spent most of its life in the garage in her cage as she is too dangerous to be trusted with my daughter’s young children. She snaps at them. But the family is hesitant to return her to the SPCA because she will be put down. This dog, too, should never have been sold by the SPCA.”

3) Talk about neglect. Sounds as if this dog should never have been adopted if the owners had young children and weren’t willing to put in the time and effort to work with the dog and socialize it properly so as to safely assimilate it to the family. It’s a shame that this poor dog has spent it’s life in the garage simply because the owners don’t trust it around the children. Any dog that is relegated to a garage is going to be poorly socialized and inappropriately behaved. At the very least, it would have been better for the animal to be returned to the shelter to have a chance of being adopted by a family that could provide the attention and training it so desperately needed. Being returned to a shelter isn’t a death sentence after all…

I recently had two owners come in with a one year old lab that was out of control energy-wise that the owners have simply been keeping him in the yard because he’s too much to handle. Even their kids didn’t want to spend time with the dog because he was so rambunctious. These owners waited outside of the building with the dog instead of in the waiting room because the dog was so out of control. Guess what? I had a chat with them about training and socialization and gave them a few suggestions on how to work with the dog and showed them how to get the dog’s attention and reward him for good behavior. Within 30 minutes in the exam room this dog was sitting and staring at me waiting for a treat as I spoke to his owners instead of him jumping all over the place being yanked around by the owner who had him on a choke collar. The owners came in distraught and embarrassed and left with smiles and hope in their eyes. I think that dog will do just fine! Oftentimes it’s the owner who needs training before the dog can be trained.

One additional thing that has bothered me about this article was the fact that the author kept indicating that the SPCA was “selling” dogs. Sell is not something that SPCAs do. They adopt. The adoption fee is to off-set the high price of care for each and every animal. Remember that if you pay a $75 adoption fee, that is including vaccinations, deworming, a spay & neuter surgery, boarding, food, any additional medications, a microchip, and more! Your local vet would charge you a $75 dollar fee to simply make a appointment. Veterinary practices are businesses that sell services and products. Animal shelters are non-profit organizations that are not trying to make money by selling unwanted animals; they are trying to find homes for animals that are lost or abandoned so that the animals don’t have to be euthanized or kept in cages forever. Shelters put a lot of time, money and effort into getting animals to a point where they are adoptable. But the training shouldn’t stop there. With a little effort from you, they will be the best pets you’ve ever had!

Perhaps this author would prefer it if shelters simply euthanized all dogs that were not perfectly social and trained. Need I mention how many purebred dogs we get into shelters that have the same issues that she describes with the mixed-breeds she mentioned in her article? Just because an animal comes from a responsible breeder (we’ll just leave bad breeders out for simplicity’s sake, though I wonder whether the author jumped through all the necessary hoops before breeding her dogs), doesn’t mean that it won’t develop issues in the future either behavioral or medical. (I can’t count the number of times clients have said “…but the breeder assured me there would be no medical problems with him/her…”).

That being said, I wonder how many of the puppies the author bred have ended up in a shelter…


To read the entire article from The Gazette, CLICK HERE.

1 thought on “Response: Why I Wouldn’t Buy A Dog From The SPCA”

  1. I cannot believe these people! How can they go to a shelter, get a dog, and expect it to be perfect! I wish people were a little more educated on animals and how to treat them. And I wish people would understand that animals think differently than we do. They don’t say “yay a new home! Im going to behave well!” They mostly say “what is this change? I need help adjusting!” Some people do not deserve to have animals.

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