Review calls for new Ottawa Humane Society dog temperament test

The test that prompted the Ottawa Humane Society to euthanize a dog even though an Ottawa couple wanted to adopt it has no formal scoring system and should be replaced, an independent review has found.

The test that prompted the Ottawa Humane Society to euthanizea dogeven though an Ottawa couple wanted to adopt ithas no formal scoring system andshould be replaced, an independent review has found.

On Monday, the society publicly released the report submitted to them by reviewer Pamela Reid on Dec. 20.

Reid, a certified applied animal behaviourist and the director of the ASPCA Center for Behavioral Therapy in New York City, said she "was not entirely clear on the criteria" used by the society to evaluate the temperament ofan animal, and "without an objective scoring and decision-making system, a tester cannot help but form idiosyncratic impressions of a dog."

"In general, my impression was that any aggressive behaviour toward people ruled the dog as unsuitable for adoption," she added.

However,Reid praised the society for not making exceptions for potential adopters who are aware of a dog'sbehaviour problems and want to adoptit anyway.

"The OHS's commitment to public safety is commendable," she wrote.

Reid described a number of available temperament tests for dogs and made nine recommendations such as professionally training testers to use a standardized scoring system and putting together arehabilitation program fordogswith behaviour problems that make them unsuitable for adoption.

The humane society will evaluate the tests suggested by Reid and give evaluators additional training, the organization said in a written response.

It added that it will make sure it records all its behaviour test results in the future, instead of only those for dogs put up for adoption.

The society also said it already helps dogs with behaviour problems by placing them with foster families and teaching its dog-walking volunteers to train them.

The Ottawa Humane Society called the review after an Ottawa couple publicly complained that the society euthanized a dog they wanted to adopt because it failed the society's temperament test.