Dog Assessment at the RSPCA:
There is a great deal of concern about the method being used to assess dogs at the BC SPCA shelters. There has also been an impression that this is based on techniques used in the UK which would suggest that it might be used by the RSPCA. (Nadine Gourkow, Manager of Animal Welfare Services, BC SPCA, visited the RSPCA when in the UK regarding the BC SPCA's CAMP). That would indicate a level of credibility to the method.
When I checked this out with them, the RSPCA DO NOT use this type of assessment method. Their method is completely different and can be summarized as follows. (I do have a copy of the complete process).
The assessment record is done from the first day of arrival and onwards. The dog can be re-homed as soon as possible if there are no negative tendencies. Otherwise TEN days is a reasonable timescale to assess a dog. Obviously longer if it is proving difficult.
- All the assessment information is completed by the kennel staff who are looking after the dog.
There is an initial health check, eyes, ears, nose etc, weight, vaccinations etc, and whether any treatment is required
- Then, every day for 10 days info is recorded which includes: Specific checks on Cleanliness, destructiveness, barking, stools, urine, and attitude of the dog which is broken down into:
- timid = easily frightened, lacking in self confidence,
- nervous = excitable, apprehensive, worried, jumpy,
- friendly = pleased to see you, affection and loyalty,
- bold = daring, fearless, pushy, prominent,
- aggressive = unprovoked attack, hostile activity,
- submissive = surrender, rolling over, laying down, cowering.
All to be completed by the kennel assistant each day.
- Dog’s reaction to feeding. To be completed by the member of staff who feeds the dog. Good eater, poor eater, food proud, normal, feed alone
- Precautions when handling the dog (based on above)
- Vet comments / treatment and neutering details, including schedule to have done, as necessary.
At Day 5 and again at Day 10, if necessary the following checks are done: These are completed by the persons handling or looking after the dog!
- Dogs reaction to basic commands & behaviour. These are: Sit, Down, Heel, Stay, Come, Own Name, Gives up toys, Good on lead, Good off lead, Does dog mouth?
The aim is to find out if the dog understands the basic commands. To gain a better idea of the dogs ability to carry out the six training commands, it would be better if the training is carried out in a dog compound (if available). Alternatively on a grassed area and well away from other dogs and distractions. The dog is unlikely to respond correctly in its kennel, as its main objective is to get out of the kennel. It could be beneficial if “tit-bits” are used when testing the dog to help gain a relationship with the animal. With an unknown dog, shouting or aggressive handing may result in the handler being bitten.
- Reaction to other dogs
- Reaction to cats
- Reaction to grooming
- Any parts of the body that the dog does not like being touched
Based on all the above recommendations are made at Day 5 and again at Day 10 as to the adoptability of the dog. This may also include such additional info or restrictions as to the type of owners etc. Restrictions listed include: Not with children; children over 5 years; children over 10 years; Suitable for under 5 years; mature family, elderly people; one person / couple; other.
All the above is kept and may be used with potential adopters.
(Dogs that have been reported for biting or are the subject of investigation for biting should not be re-homed).
In my opinion this evaluation method, done by people who work with and know the dog, is much fairer on the dog and will give a much better idea of how the dog will be when it gets a new home. It can also be used much more effectively to match it with new owners. The RSPCA also has the process to evaluate and pre-adoption and post adoption visit the homes of the people wanting to adopt one of their dogs!
The RSPCA test...