Written By Nikki Ridley

The Serious Side of Things…

It’s heart-breaking when any animal is put down because no-one wants it. Then it’s really an ‘it’, isn’t it? Not a fur-child. Maybe it was one, once…now, though, it’s a statistic.

The animals least likely to be adopted tend to be older, with histories. Often, unknown histories. The lack of adoption possibilities is not always because they are old, or no-one likes the look of them. More often, there’s a very narrow field of suitable adoptees. Older animals that have been mistreated or abandoned are often not ideal for the people who want to rescue them and love them. Never-mind not ideal. Sometimes, they are not safe. Not even for the adults in a house.

Here’s the rub…

If it’s up for adoption, the shelter probably won’t know for sure all that animal has gone through in the past. If it does, and the animal is dangerous as a result, it won’t be up for adoption.

It may have huge ‘help-me’ eyes, and twist itself into all sorts of pretzel shapes for your delight, but when you take it home, and in a year’s time, when your 4-year old pulls its wagging tail…

You just don’t know. Animals are like humans that way. Unpredictable. They can be triggered. Emotional. Irrational. Irritable. Scared.

But does that mean they should be abandoned to their ‘fate?’ No. It doesn’t. Many will be. No, you can’t save a scarred Pitbull that may or may not have been a fighting dog, and cuddle on the couch with it in some Lalaland future. You just can’t. So, let’s save the ones we can.

Of course, this applies mostly to dogs. They are the ones who can inflict severe, sometimes fatal, injuries on children. On rare occasions, on adults too. They are the ones who need special adoptive parents. Just In case they turn out to not be teddy bears in doggie clothing.

They need skilled, sensible adoptees. Practical dog-lovers who have their heads set squarely on their shoulders. Who are prepared to train, or re-train, them. Prepared to distance themselves, when it’s the best thing to do. Dog psychiatrists. Dog handlers. Practical. Unemotional. Devoted. There are precious few of those potential parents out there.

The internet is full of miracle stories. They wouldn’t happen without those of you willing to take a chance, but don’t be romantic about it.  Can you handle the unknown? If you can’t,  it’s better you don’t think you can love away the who-knows-what trauma. If you can…there are frightened, caged souls that need you. To at least try. Few others will…and some of those shouldn’t.

Criteria for adoptees of animals (dogs in particular) with ‘unknown histories’:


  • Your property is suitable for the breed.
  • Experience with animals – ideally with the breed in question.
  • No children, or no situation where children will be vulnerable to unpredictable behaviour.
  • Lots of it.
  • Yep – training is expensive. So is the emergency ward.
  • Clean animal-keeping record.
  • Tons of it.
  • Low expectations – i.e. you don’t need the dog to love you
  • A really, really, really, good reason for not wanting a fat little rolly-polly Labrador puppy instead.