Why You Should Not Adopt An Abused Dog

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take in a stray animal. Saving pets from the pound is a commendable and noble deed but people need to consider all of the issues before making such a major decision especially if there are children in the home.

There are cases where people have taken in a rescue dog and had great luck with them, going on to live happy lives but that doesn’t always happen.


More than 20 percent of dogs that are adopted are returned to the shelter. (Source: NCPPSP)


Abused dogs can be aggressive

Not all animals in shelters were mistreated but unfortunately we don’t know most of the pets history and they can’t tell us about their past.

Some canines are aggressive due to mishandling and could be a threat to your family especially if you have children in the home.

Examples


I’m going to tell you three stories I know of people who took in rescue dogs and regretted it.

1) Jim and Sandy had a young golden retriever that was home alone during the day. He was so excited to see them when they got home he was like a Tasmanian devil until they went to bed at night.

They decided to get another dog to keep Taz company during the day so he wouldn’t be so lonely.

They went to the pound and picked out a Labrador mix dog that sat back in the corner all alone. They felt he needed them. He fought them with the leash and they practically had to drag him to their car.

When they got home and opened their front door he lunged at the puppy attacking his throat. Jim got in between them to break up the fight but in the process had his arm sliced open.

Jim and Taz both needed stitches and spent hours at the vet and emergency room. The rescue dog went back to the pound.


2) Another situation was with a dachshund. He was adopted from the local animal shelter and brought home to Craig and Shelly’s daughters.

At first he seemed fine and there was no aggression but they soon realized they couldn’t keep him in the yard at every opportunity he dug out and ran loose. Not only that Oscar attacked and killed a neighbor’s Yorkshire terrier, he attacked a neighbor boy’s arm when he was playing ball with his brother in his own yard (he wasn’t even bothering the dog) and bit another little girl in the face.

The dog was court ordered to be put to sleep.


3) Another dog was a Schnauzer, named Woody. Woody was very high strung from the beginning attacking their cat, chewing up throw pillows and clawing doors.

They used a crate to help control his fits of anger but one day he turned on Mike and bit his finger so bad he had to have stitches.

Another time he attacked the UPS man and still another incident was with Mike’s elderly mother. Woody didn’t seem to like anyone and had a problem with men.


Research your future pet

Unfortunately, most animal shelters don’t know anything about the dogs they take in and some will even lie to you about their behavior and disposition. They are overcrowded and want to find homes for these animals.

When possible try to get an animal you know will be safe around your children, other pets and elderly relatives.

Some pets are turned in due to the owner moving to a new location that doesn’t allow pets, sometimes deployment and sometimes the master passes away. These animals make good pets if they were treated well.


You can train a puppy

Unless you are an experienced dog trainer with years of experience working with dogs needing rehabilitation you should be careful of rescue dogs. They require special care and knowledge of dog behavior.

I know the shelters are full and people are always posting pictures of abused animals needing homes but these dogs are sometimes mentally messed up and that is hard to retrain.

Hardly anyone writes about the down side of taking in a stray dog, you only hear the heart lifting stories. It would be great if it was always like that but I’ve heard too many reports of aggressive dogs causing damage to people and other animals.


Some breeds are more temperamental than others

Dogs are animals and unless they’ve been trained from early on to be domesticated you could have problems.

Some dogs are harder to train than others. Do your research on different breeds behavior, naturally if a dog is a mutt you won’t have a lot to go on.

Long nosed breeds are typically from the hound family. They catch a scent and like to follow it so these dogs are sometimes hard to keep home as well as hard to housebreak.

Once a dog has gotten in the habit of relieving himself indoors it’s very difficult to break this habit.

Some breeds are diggers. This isn’t a life threatening habit but nonetheless not a good idea if you have a nice yard or garden.


Puppies are easier to train than grown dogs

It is possible to train an adult dog but bad habits are hard to break. It’s much easier to train them early on before they learn bad habits. Unless you have a lot of time and patience you may not be able to rehabilitate your rescue dog. Dogs that aren’t well behaved often end up back in the shelters.

It’s great to take in a dog from the animal shelter but if you aren’t dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort you aren’t doing the dog any favors.


You don’t need a pack

You can't single handedly rescue every animal out there. Some people get carried away and have a houseful or yard full of dogs. No one needs that many animals. They are expensive to take care of: vet bills, flea remedy, heartworm proventative and food.

You shouldn't take on more than you can afford, have time to train or spend time with. If you don't have the time and money you aren't doing the dog any good.

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Comments 42 comments

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

There are often other issues with dogs from a shelter. We adopted a dog and within three weeks she began vomiting and had diarrhea, turned out she had Parvo Virus as did the rest in her litter. Treatment was very expensive with no guarantee of recovery. At the time we had four small children and couldn't afford the treatment. We had to have her put to sleep. It was heartbreaking. Before taking any dog from the pound, shelter or whatever you really need to visit with the dog, take it for walks and see what kind of temperament it has. Having it checked out by your vet before adoption is also a good idea. Very informative hub for people looking to adopt a dog. Voted up.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Tillsontitan, that's another good point. We adopted a Basset hound that had Lymes disease. I had the money but had to get up all hours of the night to give her pills I had to poke down her throat. If had worked outside the home I would have had to take off work to give her the medicine during the day too.

She was a sweet dog but we couldn't keep her in the yard. I suspect that was why she was at the pound.


alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA

You are right about the abuse/neglect issues. Most shelters though should screen dogs for aggressive behaviors before offering them for adoption, this should significantly lower the chances for adopting a dog with aggressive tendencies. I work as a dog trainer and fostered challenging dogs and I can say some really need experienced owners. I think if more trainers/people with experience fostered dogs before allowing them to be adopted out, there would be better chances for success.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Alexadry, where I live animal shelters hire anyone willing to work for minimum wage. They have vets come in periodically to check the dogs but they don't have the funds to do much more than that.

These dogs do need special people with training to help rehabilitate them for new homes.


Rufus rambles profile image

Rufus rambles 4 years ago from Australia

We adopted an old dog from the pound. He tried to kill my puppy and we had to take him back. It was very sad. Another dog we got from the pound when he was a puppy became aggressive with children and had dog fights when he reached maturity - even though we provided a loving home without any abuse. It really broke my heart. Pound dogs can be adorable and beautiful creatures deserving of being rescued, but in my experience it is a risk I won't take again. Very very sad.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Our neighbor adopted an abused chow puppy. We figured that something about my husband's appearance, smell or sound triggered bad memories and canine aggression. The pup had been transported across country from New England to Texas by truckers in order to get him here to the neighbor, so it would have been difficult to check the background.

The first time it laid eyes on my George, it raced across the two yards to jump on him, though it was still too small to do damage. But the next time, when George was returning some documents he'd been asked to edit to their house, when he saw the dog inside, he declined to go inside, but they insisted it would be OK and as a precaution, a hefty guy visiting held onto the dog, but it broke loose and raced at George bare-toothed the moment he came through the door and tore up George's lower leg, requiring stitches and a year's recovery. George was on blood-thinning meds at the time and bled profusely.

They promised to keep it either securely in the fenced back yard or in the house, but there were people in and out & of course, the dog occasionally got out.

On one of those occasions, George happened to be out on our porch and the dog raced up behind him, attacked and bit him fairly seriously a third time. Even though George would never insist the dog be removed, I finally did. It was a menace. In every case, George was minding his business and did nothing to provoke the attacks.


Antony N Britt 4 years ago

I've heard a lot of stories like this from people who have had rescued dogs. As you say,research well.

Nick

antonynbritt.com


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Rufus, I have seen and heard many stories like this, some with scary results.

Nellie, I never cared for chows. Years a go our next door neighbors had two and they killed my son's chihuahua. They tend to be mean dogs.

Antony, we have to be careful. You just never know what you will get when you take in a neglected or abused animal.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

A very good article Pamela, and you have made some important and valid points. On the plus side I have had three rescue dogs over the years, an adult Lurcher that had been badly abused (shot, starved and they tried to skin her alive), an adult Greyhound and a puppy Cairn Cross terrier. They all were lovely natured, (although I did have some house training issues with my lurcher.)

I am shocked that it sounds like many of these rescue dogs are not being checked by behaviourists prior to going up for adoption. I watch a huge amount of those 'Animal Cops Houston' etc type programs on Sky, and they focus largely on SPCA shelters where they do appear to be thorough in checking out the dogs social skills before allowing them to be adopted out. Sadly they often have to put down dogs with severe food aggression or people aggression problems, but at least they make the effort to find out first.

I just hubbed on preventing your dog from becoming food or bone possessive, and ironically I used the same video as you have done here. It is actually quite a funny video until you consider if the dog would behave the same with a person or another dog that it thought was trying to take its bone away from it.

Great Hub voted it up :)


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Misty, Oklahoma doesn't have the resources to have professional people on hand to check out dogs to make sure they are safe. Parts of Texas are the same way.

That dog in that video scares me. He seems a bit off in some way, I would be leery of letting children near him.


DoItForHer 4 years ago

I have a pound puppy. At first she was a menace. She jumped on people, growled and lunged at them, she jumped up on tables and took people's food, she chewed up everything, whined almost incessantly, barked kind of a lot, did a lot of fence fighting, would slam herself against the window if anyone came near, was quite hyper, etc, etc.

I used to say this was the hardest dog I've ever worked with, but now I say she isn't hard, just more time consuming. I had to expand my knowledge of training. I had to be super consistent. I had to get rid of incorrect ideas and replace them with the correct ones; this was humbling and awkward at first.

Because I took the time, she is now one of the best behaved dogs you would ever see. Not only can she pass the Canine Good Citizen hands down, she is also certified to work at the local hospital for the Animal Enhanced Therapy Program. Few dogs can pass this test and she does better than most of them.

Barring medical reasons, an abused dog will be about as great of a dog that hasn't been abused- if we choose to take the time and effort to do it, but the vast majority of us make excuses to take the easy way out then blame the dog. Quite sad.

People don't have dog problems; dogs have people problems.

That said, my next dog will be from a responsible breeder. Not that I wouldn't have great success with a dog from the pound, but I want a healthy dog. I'm tired of dealing with health issues.


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

My cousin has FIVE great white pyrenees, all rescue dogs. All but one of them have strange quirks. Dog A is terrified of everything and spends most of its time cowering in her husband's office. Dogs B and C get along with each other great, but B will attack D and nearly maimed it to death. D is growly and neurotic and can't be around people. E is a good dog that gets on with everyone. D seems to like E OK, so those two wind up keeping each other company indoors, whereas B and C mainly hang out outdoors. My cousin thinks all this is fine: She has figured out each dog's quirks, and made adjustments. It's just what you're willing to do.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Doltforher, most people don't know how to properly train and dog nor do they have/take the time. I'm glad yours worked out.

Hot dorkage, that is the key: time. That's more dogs than I'm willing to take on but commend your cousin for doing so.


Charlu profile image

Charlu 4 years ago from Florida

Wow this is a tough one for me due to all my rescue dogs have been phenomenal. Yes there have been quirks to work through but never anything serious. Realize not all mine came from the pound but also private rescue farms and centers.

Having been a volunteer at what was called a "Humane Center" I assure you it was more like a euthanasia center.

Pets need exercise, playtime, and individual attention. I have 5 large hound dogs with 2 1/4 acres. My dogs even with the gate open will not go off the property except in the wildlife preserve in the back. No shock collar no electric fence no beatings they just know from continuous training.

A very good friend of mine adopted a Malamute She lives in a townhouse and the only time the dog goes out is to use the bathroom, yet she wonders why he hauls tail and runs away if someone leaves the door open or why he's so hyper. He needs exercise and wants to play.

Before getting a pet there should be a list made of the things required to keep that pet in a healthy loving home and who is going to take care of their needs for the well being of everyone involved

I have had one dog put to sleep in 56 years (other than for old age or health reasons) and that was an $800 puppy which I cried about for a week exhausting everything humanly possible to save him

I think if people thought of it as taking care of a child they would realize more of the responsibilities. Remember they're never going to be able to fix their own lunches, potty train/well doggy door, etc. So think long and hard when considering a pet and what kind of pet would be best for your family.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Charlu, many people don't realize how much work dogs require. I love mine and wouldn't trade him. Like you say they are like children and we have to give them the proper training, care and attention or they don't do well.

I see too many people take a puppy because they are cute but after they grow up they no longer are interested and the dog sits in the yard forgotten. I think it's cruel to have a large dog in an apartment unless you are willing to walk them daily.


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

My own dog is a six year old lab mix, sweet as anything. She gets a good long walk/run most days, and on the really nasty days when she only gets a few balls thrown in the back yard, you know it. She is sweet because we spent the time with her when she was a puppy. Now she needs less but she still needs attention.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Hot Dorkage, dogs need attention their whole lives. Mine is spoiled rotten and has no idea what neglect means.


Daffy Duck profile image

Daffy Duck 4 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

It's ok to adopt an abused animal. You just have to remember that the psychology we apply to people and abuse also applies to animals. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to handle abused people/animals.

They deserve a home too.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Daffy, they do deserve a good home but unfortunately like you say they do need a lot of extra care and knowledge and most people don't have the proper training to deal with these animals.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

All but two of my many, many animals have been adopted from the pound, SPCA, or a rescue group. Yes, they have unusual behavior at times, but the most personable and sweetest dog I have ever had was a mama in a puppy mill. She has some issues, but after about 8 months with us, she changed so much for the better. She still has issues with house breaking, but who wouldn't after being locked up in your waste like that. She is a pom and had no hair when rescued. Despite her issues, she is the best. All 5 of my current animals are rescued and the last 2 who had to be put down for old age were also rescues.


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

There are no guarantees with any dog, but it is a commitment I take seriously. All of my 4 dogs are rescue dogs. They all have their little issues. One was never socialized till she was a year and a half old, now at 7 years she is still nervous around strangers, but much improved. Perhaps I have been lucky that none of their problems were insurmountable. Even a dog you buy from a breeder and raise from a puppy can be unexpectedly difficult. That doesn't mean you give up on them.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Homesteadbound and Sherry, you are both very patient and have done well with rescue dogs. There are people who have the skills to take on these dogs. Some dogs are harder to train then others.


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 4 years ago from Vancouver BC

There are ways to retrain some very aggressive dogs but it requires skilled professional intervention, hours of consistent training, often expensive vet bills, and all this intervention doesn't always work. A friend of mine retrained a most challenging dog and he is lovely now-but it took years.

The best advice remains get to know the dog before you adopt it. Most rescue dogs I know are fine.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Good advice, Marsha.


Sarra Garrett 4 years ago

All 5 of my dogs are rescues that have been abused in one way or another. They all get along and I have never had a fight. It's not the dogs fault if they are aggressive, don't like men, don't like other dogs or have separation anxiety......it's the previous owners fault. True dog lovers understand this and have the patience and knowledge to help a rescue dog overcome their fears. It is unfortuante that some dogs can not be rehabilitated, however, shelters do not adopt out a vicious dog. These shelter dogs have an unknown history and shelters can only do so much in the rehabilitation process. Most people who adopt go to the pound/shelter on a 'whim' and do not understand that having a dog is a lifetime commitment. They quickly see the dog as a 'chore'. There are no bad dogs.....there are only bad owners.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 4 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Sarra, dogs are like children and require a lot of love and attention. Yours are lucky to have you.


doneka royster profile image

doneka royster 3 years ago

I like your hub, but from the three stories you put up from your friends they all shared one thing in common the new owners didn't do their research. I have a rescue dog before we got him a companion we let him pick out his friend this avoids conflicts later when randomly bringing a new pet into your home. The second owners could have prevented most of those attacks by making sure the area where the dog was going to be was doggy proof . Immediately after getting each dog we took them to classes to train them and properly socialize them whuch is one of the more common problems with rescue animals


Brittney 3 years ago

These problems can crop up in any dog, not just a shelter dog. And any puppy is a risk, because you never know 100% how it's going to turn out. You actually have a better idea adopting an adult dog of what their behavior is like. All of those stories you posted were of people being plain stupid and irresponsible. If you don't have time to deal with problems that can come up, whether a shelter dog or from a breeder, then DON'T GET ONE. I can not believe you posted a page of why not to adopt a shelter dog. Go to your local shelter and go take a look in the freezer... these dogs need people.


Sarra Garrett 3 years ago

I have five rescue dogs and I wouldn't have it any other way. All came to me at different times ranging from 3lbs to 70 lbs. I have never had a problem with any of them and when I introduce a new dog into my 'pack' it's done on neutral ground.

Your three examples are examples of very bad dog owners who attempted to adopt a dog. If you know your dogs then you know a dogs body language. Sorry those people got bit but they were irresponsible in bringing that specific dog home to begin with. What do they expect with a hyper dog that they knew was hyper from the get go? The shy lab sitting all scared in the corner of the cage is telling you not to go near her, and the digger, well dachunds are hunting dogs so they are going to dig.

This is what gets me with people who are attempting to do a good thing but the dog who would have lived a happy life with a different owner was now given a death sentence. If people don't know dogs they shouldn't attempt to rescue one. Adopt a puppy instead of a full grown dog.

Mine have one eye because the other was popped out, legs mangled from being broken, chains digging into their necks and thrown away in a trash can stuffed as a puppy in a soup can. All females, some fixed some not. Unknown background and they all sleep with me. I also used to raise Rotweillers too, but then again I know dogs and their body language.

Great hub in telling the public of what could potentially happen with a shelter dog. However, not all shelter dogs are bad. Puppy mills are worse.

It's not the dog or the breed that is bad.....it's the owner.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

You misunderstood. The article is about adopting abused dogs, not rescue dogs. Taking in shelter dogs is a great thing but people need to be aware of the dangers.


Sarra Garrett 3 years ago

My dogs are abused and came from the shelter. They had their eye poked out, broken leg so mangled I had to have it removed, 2 had chains digging into their necks and one has a 1" scar across her shoulders from a harness that was embedded. Yes, there are dangers in adopting an abused dog. However, it takes a loving and strong hand to show these dogs that there is love in their future. Some dogs, unfortunately, can't be rehabilitated due to the abuse they received. Not to mention if you are going to adopt an abused dog you need to know what you are doing at the beginning before you bring one home. It's so unfortunate that people who either have never had a dog nor do they want to take the time with them, the dog ends up being put down. It's such a sad situation for the dog.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Sarra, your dogs are lucky to have you. Unfortunately most people aren't educated in how to train a dog much less one that has experienced trauma in their lives.

I wish shelters and rescue centers were more forth right with people in the beginning letting them know a dog's background. Some don't know but often they have a pretty good idea after housing the animal for a few days or weeks.


Sarra Garrett 3 years ago

That's the problem, shelters don't know the dogs past. They get them in and try to get them adopted or put them down. There is no proper funding for shelters to make sure that dogs aren't food aggressive or don't like cats or other dogs, etc. It's a sad situation all around. However, the problem is also that people who are first time dog owners and don't have a clue about dogs this is even sadder. They bring home a dog and expect it to conform to a new life immediately. Dogs don't like change and it takes some time for them to get acclimated to a new life. First time owners should either adopt an older dog who is the only dog in the home or a puppy from a shelter. Did you know that all black puppies are the first ones to be euthanized?


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I had no idea. I have always preferred black dogs. My current dog is a Boston terrier and is mostly black. I've had a black poodle and a black weenie dog. I'm thinking my next dog will be a black poodle again. My Boston is fourteen and getting quite old so I know we won't have him much longer. We just enjoy him as much as we can.


collegedad profile image

collegedad 3 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

My first rescue was an English Setter that was living in my dad's barn. The dog would bury itself out in the hay trying to keep warm. You could tell that it was a house dog that someone had abandoned. The guy was not happy about it either. The thing snapped and snarled at me for two weeks. Finally I pointed at the open door on my truck and told it that if it was going home with me it had better get in the truck. It did, then it wouldn't let me in. After an hour of snapping and snarling I got the dog to sit in the passenger seat while I drove home. By the time we got there we were best buds. He slept at the foot of my bed and guarded my home for six months without incidence then one night he got into the garbage. I calmly walked into the kitchen and reached down to the right the trash can. He lunged at me biting into my left bicep. Out of instinct I grabbed him by the back of the neck and threw him into the living room. I stood up just in time to put my arm up to stop him from reaching my face. He tore the flesh all the way to the bone. He rode with me to the hospital like nothing had happened. When I got to the Emergency Room the ER Doc asked me what happened then called the police. Seems that my dog had bitten several people in town and the owner had dumped him off in an attempt to avoid prosecution. I've had a few dogs since, but every pound puppy we've come across has had "issues". I now have a goldfish! Thanks for the interesting hub.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

That is scary, collegedad. I have heard stories like this for years. I know there are those that believe in getting a rescue dog and know some happy stories but you also have to be careful because there are also stories like yours.

Personally, I am not qualified to retrain an abused animal.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

I have three adopted dogs from shelters. One was abused and left chained to a tree to die when I adopted her. They have turned out to be three of the best dogs I've ever owned. However, having said that, I have experience with animals starting out from a young age. I grew up on a farm. I've been raised my whole life to care for animals. The only time I ever had a problem adopting a dog was not from a shelter. It was from a private owner. The dog had aggression issues which were unforeseen. So, even a trained person can miss clues in first impressions.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

CraftytotheCore, your dogs are lucky to have you. Most people aren't experienced enough to deal with an aggressive animal and it can be dangerous if they aren't careful.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

I can see both sides of this issue as I'm one of those with happy endings for my rescued dogs, at least for most of them. Since we live out in the country where people seem to dump unwanted dogs, we've seen our share of all breeds and types. One time someone dumped an entire family of Labradors including four puppies. There have been Great Danes, Dalmations, Chows, German Shepherds that we've taken to shelters (sad) when we had a full house of four dogs but the ones who came inside to live were always grateful and good natured. Our latest was a pup from the SPCA and he came to us as a puppy. Now at three years, he is amazing and wonderful and I can't imagine life without him.


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 3 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Peg, you have a good heart to take in and care for those dogs. It's a shame that people get animals and then don't take proper care of them.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 18 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

My first 2 shelter dogs were happy endings. I did have one homeless dog that was so abused I did not trust him fully, so we put him up if kids were over. The 2 dogs Beagles I have now are from the shelter and they love kids. Great informative hub. Stella


Pamela N Red profile image

Pamela N Red 18 months ago from Oklahoma Author

LGP, you have a big heart to take in a special needs dog. We need more people like you willing to take on furry children others have misused.

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