Letter: Society did its best in Ned's tragic case
To the editor:
Ned's story is a heartbreaking example of what sometimes occurs in the difficult world of animal sheltering. ("Upset by euthanizing of returned dog," letter Jan. 2.) Our job is to make the most compassionate choice possible for each animal in our care. We did everything we could for Ned, and our efforts — along with the many efforts of multiple adopters — were not successful. His story is deeply sad. Our staff put many months, resources, and affection into his care and training, and were deeply upset by his loss. Losing an animal like Ned is the hardest part of what we do.
The fact is that Ned had severe separation anxiety. He came to us as a stray with unknown history. As an open admission shelter, Berkshire Humane Society (BHS) accepts ALL animals regardless of health, temperament, breed or age. We worked with Ned, placing him in multiple homes that we hoped were the right match. In one home, the owners worked from home. In another, the owners arranged their work schedule as a split shift. In both instances the families did their best to minimize the time he was left alone. And, as letter writer Shauna Hoffman has shared, she went to great lengths to make her adoption successful, trying various medications, crate training, pheromone diffusers, and even free rein of the house, among other things. These attempts failed.
Not only did Ned destroy property, he inflicted harm on himself. He was unable to be left by himself for any length of time, and his unstable mental state caused him, and the people who cared about him, distress. After the last time he was returned, his mental state swiftly deteriorated. Our staff contacted a coon hound rescue and they were unable to assist us.
At the time of the most recent surrender, we were not yet convinced that Ned could not be successfully re-homed. We made the decision in the following days after witnessing his heartbreaking behavior and damaged mental state. We attempted through two phone calls and an unreturned voicemail to explain Ned's situation to the last adopter.
All efforts made on Ned's behalf failed. We felt it was unfair to inflict further suffering on a dog who had not responded to rehabilitation efforts or placement in multiple homes, including homes where so much time and effort had been employed.
BHS has a return policy so that adopters do not feel they are alone when needing to re-home an animal. Be it 10 days or 10 years, all BHS animals are welcome to return to the shelter. Our goal is proper placement, and we prioritize health and safety. We always consider both physical and mental health in our decisions.
BHS shelters more than 1,200 animals each year. They come to us in myriad conditions. The vast majority of our resources are spent rehabilitating and nursing animals back to health. We recently adopted a dog that waited 9+ months for a home, and a senior cat that waited 11+ months. In our history, we have sheltered more than 50,000 animals, and we will continue our hard work, doing our best to make the most compassionate, humane, and just choice for each and every animal that arrives at Berkshire Humane Society.
The writer is executive director, Berkshire Humane Society.
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