Don’t Fence Me In!
Last week I met a young woman who had bought her dog from a breeder. She did not want to go to a breeder, but after many attempts to get a dog from rescues and shelters and being denied for not having a fence, she bought. Another dog sits another day (week, month) in a shelter because of a black-and-white policy like this one.
This is one of those policies that just simply does not make sense. In fact, one can easily argue that a home with a fenced yard is less humane for the dog than one that is fenced. Frankly, I just do not understand the policy at all. Do we really assume that folks who come to our shelters who do not have fences are not willing to take their dog out on a leash, but will instead brazenly open the door and let their dog go even after we give them the tools to walk them? From my perspective, dogs who live without a fenced-in yard are much more likely to be walked on a leash. This means that they are more likely to meet people and other dogs, and thus have enrichment and socialization opportunities.
One can argue that dogs who have fenced yards are often left in the yard unattended. Fences can fall, holes can be dug and pets can be lost. In our research on ID tagging, one of the most common ways in which dog owners report their dog became lost was from a fenced backyard where some failure (door left open, hole or other) occurred.
Fences can be great options for dogs – off-leash time outside with running and social opportunities can be great for bonding and enrichment. Public fenced-in areas can be found in most communities, and we can serve our non-fenced clients well by providing them a list of safe fenced areas where they can bring their dogs to run and play.
Many of you no longer have such a policy at your facilities – I would love to hear how adoptions changed when the policy was eliminated. And for those of you that still have a policy in place, I hope that we can help you to take down those fences…