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Expert Challenges Ottawa Humane Shelter on Dog Testing

It seems that the Ottawa Shelter has its own little behavioral mix of this and that it uses in accessing dogs. Unfortunately, they may have...

Joy  |  Sep 14th 2006


Dog Shelter Taking Short Cuts

It seems that the Ottawa Shelter has its own little behavioral mix of this and that it uses in accessing dogs. Unfortunately, they may have it all wrong and dogs may be dying unjustly.

Here’s the article from the Ottawa Citizen.

Shelter’s use of dog test suspectexpert: Results not valid if steps are skipped, program head says

Laura Payton, with files from Jennifer Campbell, The Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Humane Society doesn’t properly administer a behaviour test it uses to determine which dogs should be euthanized, according to the manager of the shelter that created the test.

The Ottawa Humane Society’s method of applying the test came under fire after Simone Powell and Kevin Skerrett of Ottawa tried to adopt a stray dog they found, only to learn later that it failed the test and was euthanized.

The test includes poking the dog with a stuffed rubber glove to see how it reacts.

The test progresses from simply patting the dog to trying to examine its teeth before moving onto more aggressive actions, such as taking away a valued item, like food or a toy. There are other similar components to the test that gauge the dog’s temperament.

Tara Davies, temperament assessor at the Ottawa Humane Society, said the Ottawa society’s test was partly adopted from the methods of Susan Sternberg, an American dog trainer and behaviour consultant who developed the system.

“A lot of it comes with experience and taking bits and pieces from other people’s methodology and theory and putting together something that works,” she said.

“The evaluation is tailored to a shelter environment, for people who are adopting a dog out of a shelter. There are many people who have different interpretations of it.”

However, Jane Kopelman, director of Assess-A-Pet, the program developed by Ms. Sternberg, and manager of the Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption shelter, where the program was developed, said the evaluation must be completed exactly as intended and that no steps should be skipped or be performed out of sequence for the results to be valid.

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.