Last night I saw the new documentary called "Shelter Dogs". Many tears, but I recommend to all - it will air on HBO on January 26th.
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Last night I saw the new documentary called "Shelter Dogs". Many tears,but I recommend to all - it will air on HBO on January 26th.

I haven't seen it (and probably won't, because I don't have cable), but most of the commentary on the breed lists I'm on supports what I've heard about Sternberg's methods of "evaluation"
being absurd.
I'm quite sure that she would have put down all three of my dogs if they'd had the misfortune to fall into her hands. Feh.
I haven't seen it (and probably won't, because I don't have cable), but most of the commentary on the breed ... would have put down all three of my dogs if they'd had the misfortune to fall into her hands. Feh.

Yeah, I know. There is a big internet presence of hatred, but no-one if willing to step forward and take the dogs home that bite. Plastic surgery or stitches is good enough for JQP, but not for me. What are ya gonna do?
Yeah, I know. There is a big internet presence of hatred, but no-one ifwilling to step forward and take the dogs home that bite.

What "dogs that bite"?
She identifies dogs as "biters" by tormenting them until they're pushed into snapping at an inanimate object.
None of my dogs will harm a human being, but if you tormented them by repeatedly poking them with a plastic hand on a stick while they're trying to eat, they might very well eventually snap at it.
Plastic surgery or stitches is good enough for JQP, but not for me. What are ya gonna do?

Not use cruel and ridiculous methods to force dogs into trying to defend themselves, then kill them. Not identify any dog that isn't a total submissive pushover milksop as "dangerous" because you've abused and tormented the dog into what under law would be considered a justified bite.

As I said- Sternberg would most likely have KILLED at least two of my three dogs- all of whom are wonderful dogs who have never done harm, and none of whom is the slightest danger to any human being.

Feh.
She identifies dogs as "biters" by tormenting them until they're pushed into snapping at an inanimate object.

I didn't know that you had seen her temp testing dogs. Since this is the case, I will not add anymore.
As I said- Sternberg would most likely have KILLED at least two of my three dogs- all of whom are wonderful dogs who have never done harm, and none of whom is the slightest danger to any human being.

Probably would have given them the needle alright.
Yeah, I know. There is a big internet presence of hatred, but no-one if willing to step forward and take the dogs home that bite. Plastic surgery or stitches is good enough for JQP, but not for me. What are ya gonna do?

I've seen a video of a Sue Sternberg seminar and came away with VERY mixed feelings about her.
Making placement decisions is not easy, and it is made more difficult by the fact that there really are few truly competent homes out there, much less enough homes at all for the number of dogs available. That means you end up having to place dogs in homes that you would otherwise probably not want to place dogs in. In addition, many municipal shelters don't have the money or means to screen applicants thoroughly, or are obligated to place dogs without screening.
In this context, I can see the point of Sternberg's argument that, essentially, the only dogs that should be adopted out are Gund-like creatures with virtually no natural canid-like behaviors. (Did I just give away my biases right there? I guess I did.) Dogs who are easy. Dogs suitable for people who really can't handle having a dog, but are bound and determined to have one, one way or another. Dogs like that don't come back. They live out their lives in their homes, causing no problems to anyone, and that in and of itself is not a bad thing.

However, I did not see that the only dogs she recommended euthanasia for were bite risks, which makes the quoted argument above a straw man. She recommended euthanasia for any dog that presented any sort of training challenge of any kind. She also interpreted nearly every behavior exhibited by any dog she got her hands on as hostile. And this gets me to the major problem I had with her: her apparent attitude of hostility toward the dogs. She portrayed the dogs she presented as scheming, bitter, pushy bad. Maybe even a little bit evil. It wasn't, you know, too bad this dog is so damaged he cannot be saved. It was more like, look at how bad this dog is, he doesn't deserve to live.

That REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. I totally and completely understand why some people think Sue just likes to kill dogs. Because frankly, from watching that videotape, she looked like someone who just likes to kill dogs.

"Can't be saved" vs. "doesn't deserve to live" this is not a minor difference in perspective. In practice maybe it doesn't really matter but I can't help but think that it does. You cannot approach the animals in your care with such an attitude and honestly be fair to them.

I know, I know. Life's not fair, shelter decisions aren't fair, shitty things happen, hard decisions have to be made. But at the same time, many of us live with dogs who would have failed Sue's tests and gotten the blue juice and I'm not just talking about the Solos and Ezras of the world either I'm talking about almost any dog who requires an owner who isn't a complete moron. I guess what this all really says is that Sue hasn't so much lost faith in the dogs as she has in people. I've lost a lot of faith in people too, but I still know that there are folks out there who want and do well with dogs a little more interesting than Gunds.

I know that Sue loves dogs and I also know that she's done scads and scads and scads of work for the welfare of dogs. She's done tons of education and outreach. She came to Philly and ran a weight pull for "muscle dogs" in the hopes of educating their owners about spay/neuter and I was invited to come and help, but couldn't, and hearing about it afterward really wished I'd been able to go. I have a hard time reconciling all that with what I saw on the tape, which looked to all the world like someone who really doesn't like dogs very much and is looking for an excuse to euthanize most of them.
I appreciate that she makes hard decisions, and I understand why she makes them, but that doesn't mean I agree with them. And I think it's possible to disagree with her and her methods, without simultaneously advocating "plastic surgery or stitches." It's not a very interesting discussion when cast in terms like that, it's just inflammatory.

Melanie Lee Chang > Form ever follows function. Departments of Anthropology and Biology >
University of Pennsylvania > Louis Sullivan (Email Removed) >
I know that Sue loves dogs and I also know that she's done scads and scads and scads of work ... like someone who really doesn't like dogs very much and is looking for an excuse to euthanize most of them.

I agree that her people skills and tact leave something to be desired. The fact that she goes to Harlem and Philly and Oakland and the poor rural parts near her and doesn't judge the guys breeding their blue nose pits and fighting them should speak loudly. She is substituting weight pulling for fighting and they still get to brag about their dogs, get to feel macho. There is no lecture about spay/neuter as it would fall on deaf ears. The only incentive is if they win the weight pull, cash prizes (first thru third place) are doubled for spayed/neutered dogs. That talks to them.
I also have trouble with this all being pinned on Sue. There are plenty of shelters that use temp testing - I do temp testing every week. If folks would rather we just close our eyes and randomly pick the dogs to be put to sleep, I can understand their ire in some weird way. If they would rather we just choose all the black dogs or the older dogs or the fill in the blank dogs, that's fine. But why not try to make it a little more reasoned decision? I don't think Sue is out there breeding all these surplus dogs. I know I'm not.
None of my dogs will harm a human being, but if you tormented them by repeatedly poking them with a plastic hand on a stick while they're trying to eat, they might very well eventually snap at it.

When you adopted your guys, we weren't doing TT. We do now. We use the Assess-a-hand. Tormenting is hardly the description of what is done (we use a different test altogher, but do employ use of the A-A-H). The dogs who fail generally do som BIG time.
Janet Boss
Best Friends Dog Obedience
"Nice Manners for the Family Pet"
Voted "Best of Baltimore 2001" - Baltimore Magazine www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
Sue Sternberg is a World Class Dog Exterminator. What Saddam Hussein was to Iraqi Shiite Muslims, Sue Sternberg is to American Canines. It doesn't take twelve paragraphs to communicate the obvious.

Melanie's Communications Coach
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