Why not just take the dogs away from the owners?

While we understand the instinct, the strategy of taking dogs from their owners is not one we condone and it is ultimately counter-productive. Here are six reasons why:

1. Taking a dog from its owner will almost invariably result in the owner simply getting another dog, a dog that will almost certainly live the same conditions the first dog did. So, you haven’t addressed the issue, you’ve just transferred one dog’s conditions to another.

2. Taking a dog also presumes you have another home to place it in. Just take a look on FB right now at how many people are desperately trying to find a home for a stray dog they’ve found or a shelter dog that is about to be euthanized. The reality is this: rescue groups and shelters are full. That’s why the Coalition works to improve the home that the dog already has. We call it “rescuing dogs in their own back yard.”

3. Taking a dog looks like an easy fix, but it really means that you’ve given up on the hard work of relationship building and information sharing. Think about how many dogs you will have in your lifetime. Ten, twenty, fifty? Our strategy is to bring about a change in the humans, to show them the possibility of caring for their dogs in a different way, or just to give them the little bit of help they need to do so. When we succeed, we have improved not only the life of the dog they currently have, but, potentially, the lives of the dozens of dogs they will care for during the rest of their lives. And as you often see in our videos, there are lots of kids watching and helping. They are a new generation of dog owners whose perspectives on what it means to have and care for a dog are being shaped by the experience.

4. Taking dogs also presumes that the owners don’t care about their dogs. Doing this work has shattered many of our preconceptions and has proven to us that the only way to help is with a non-judgmental approach. We have found that almost all the owners we meet do care about their dogs, and they are either doing the only thing they know to do or doing the only thing that is possible for them to do at the time. For those of you who can remember, how many of our mothers and fathers back in the 60’s and 70’s used to let us kids ride down the highway standing up on the front seat of the car, no seatbelt in sight? This was just what people did at that time, but it doesn’t mean that our mothers and fathers were bad people or that they didn’t care about us. The question really is this: once you know better, will you do better? The Coalition is about giving people the opportunity to change.

5. Takings dogs would also prevent us from helping other dogs. We have built thousands of fences. We’ve done this at street level, door-to-door, face-to-face, building trust and a reputation in our community. We often work in the same neighborhoods where fence recipients have family, friends, and neighbors who, of course, hear about the Coalition from them. We can’t tell you how many times we hear, “You built that fence for my brother (or aunt, or grandmother, or neighbor).” If we started taking people’s dogs, the network of trust and the reputation we have built would disappear overnight. The response we get would no longer be, “You’re the folks who provided services for my neighbor.” It would become, “You’re the folks who took my neighbor’s dog.”

6. Finally, taking dogs is illegal. The Coalition isn’t just about fence-building, we are about community building and the community includes a lot of people, pets and organizations. If we were to take people’s dogs, we could not be effective advocates because others would not trust or work with us. Given the choice between saving a handful of dogs by breaking the law or helping create long term, sustainable change, we choose to help our overall community and as many dogs as we can.