On Good Behavior

Category: Gary's Column, Winter 2016 210 0


Anyone who has loved an animal—or another person, for that matter—knows that when it comes to relationships, you take the good with the bad. Every living being comes with its own innate behavioral traits—some are lovable and charming; others, well, not so much. But just like with a partner, when you make a commitment to love a pet for life, you accept them as they are—quirky traits and all.

As an animal welfare organization, we often rehabilitate homeless animals to ready them for their new homes. Truthfully, 75 percent of that rehabilitation is behavioral, rather than medical, and can be very challenging. Our veterinarians can heal animals medically, but behaviorally, it can be a lifelong commitment, and that’s what you’re signing on for with any animal, no matter where you get him or her.

Of course, we always want to set up our adoptions for success—so we do our best to assess our animals and even color-code them based on temperament. That way, our adoption counselors can help potential adopters find the most suitable match. We realize that—just like in human relationships—it doesn’t always work out. That’s why we encourage foster families and offer an adoption guarantee, so adopters can feel comfortable letting us know if that adoption may not be the best fit for their families, with no guilt or judgment on our part. Animals make our lives better and we want each match to be the perfect partnership. It takes far less time for an animal’s true behavior to come out in a home than in a shelter; we often get our best information from these returned adoptions, allowing us to create a better match with another family. And that animal got a weekend or two away from the shelter!

In this issue, you’ll learn valuable tips to train your pet to be the best version of themselves. But the most important trick—loving unconditionally—can’t be taught. It has to be felt with the heart.


Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
President and CEO
San Diego Humane Society


Best or Worst Behavior

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