I will for the moment forego comment on the following
letter regarding policies at Sue Sternberg's shelter, since
I don't want to assume as fact assertions made by only
one side in this brewing controversy. I have, however,
seen "temperament testing" devolve into abusive searches
for lame excuses to put dogs down elsewhere. (I have not,
on the other hand, seen anyone get so irrationally peeved
over the fact that a dog isn't giving her immediate attention
as Sue Sternberg did in her ultra-lame Pit Bull tape.)
This is important to read. Many of you refer people to Sue
facility. You might, after reading wish to reconsider this.
Please feel free to cross post.
Posted with author's permission.
Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 10:04 AM
To: Meachum, Amy S.
Subject: The truth about Rondout Valley Kennels please post !
---------------------- Forwarded by Nancy Skluth/NYC/Merrill/US on
04/30/2002 08:11 AM ---------------------------
Subject: The truth about Rondout Valley Kennels
Dear friends, fellow shelter workers, and animal lovers:
My family and I have been preparing this statement for weeks now. We
writing this letter in an effort to inform rescues and shelters
a great injustice being done in the dog world. We spent the last 9
our lives working for Sue Sternberg at Rondout Valley Kennels in
York. Most of you have heard of Sue, for those who haven't she is an
internationally known dog trainer and behaviorist. She is also the
of the temperament test which is implemented in shelters everywhere to
determine the adoptability of shelter dogs. Before we continue, let
tell you we are not bitter ex-employees. We think Sue Sternberg has
wonderful programs. Her radio show is informative and her knowledge
behavior is unsurpassed. Sue was not only our boss, she was an
our family. If she heard a noise in the middle of the night, she
If we had a problem we needed help with, we called Sue. The incidents
leading up to the termination of our employment at Rondout Valley
serious. We never believed that euthanizing dogs would be more
Sue than our relationship with her. We were wrong.
The incidents leading up to our dismissal at Rondout Valley Kennels
serious. We feel everyone should be aware of them. We have met a lot
at Rondout Valley Kennels, at APDT conferences and at Sue's seminars.
of you who know us know we are honest, caring people. Everything we
about to tell you is true and factual, based on our personal
hearsay or second-hand information.
In the years we worked for Sue Sternberg, we not only believed in her
temperament test, we believed in her. We truly felt that Rondout
Kennels was the best place to surrender a pet or to bring a homeless
into. The loving care and attention given to the shelter dogs was
incredible. We treated them as if they were our own. Presently, the
workers have told us that they're afraid to attach themselves to the
dogs. They get less personal attention than they did before because
feel they need to distance themselves from the dogs in order to avoid
The temperament test is a valuable tool. It was designed to flush out
aggression in a potentially dangerous dog. It was also helpful in
determining what behavior issues the dog may have so he could be
placed on a
program to help or manage the problem. The test was also helpful in
determining how a dog should be placed (i.e., no children, experienced
When a dog was temperament tested, if he was found to guard a rawhide
his food, he was put on a program. To try to rectify the guarding, a
with signs of *** was put on a program to put him in his place.
I can give examples of both of the above. Flo-Jo is a beautiful
who was at Rondout years ago. She never guarded food or toys but she
guard rawhides. She was put on a program and was adopted out to a
were aware of her issue. She is very happy to date.
Baby Jake would be an example of a puppy with an issue. Baby Jake was
week old Lab mix who had been a stray in Kingston with his litter mate
Remy. Baby Remy had no issues. Baby Jake had ***, food bowl,
possession guarding issues just to name a few. Baby Jake was put on a
program and placed in a family where he and the family are very happy
each other to date.
I'm giving you these examples so you can see how things have changed.
Incoming puppies with *** or food bowl issues are euthanized.
no longer placed on programs. The most recent example of this is
Scotty was a beautiful 7 week old Boxer PitBull mix. He was found in
outside of a supermarket and brought to Rondout by the family that
him. He came complete with toys, a bed, blankets, biscuits and
else a puppy could possibly want. They were not able to keep the
they brought him to Rondout. The father consoled the two children as
cried when he handed Scotty over. He had nothing negative to say
puppy. Scotty was temperament tested by Sue and labeled ***
and promptly euthanized. No program, no chance...what makes this a
particularly bad situation is no staff member saw the temperament test
Another example was Rita. Rita was a beautiful Treeing Walker
She was at Rondout Valley Kennels for 2 days before a Live Long and
seminar. During the seminar she growled over a rawhide. She was never
re-tested, never put on a program...and euthanized the next day.
My family does Coonhound rescue and we had brought Rita to Rondout. I
have nightmares over Rita forever.
Those of you who attend Sue's Live Long and Prosper seminar that's
Rondout Valley Kennels are probably unaware of how the demo dogs come
and how they end up. For approximately 2 months leading up to a Live
and Prosper seminar, Sue begins to gather dogs to use as examples.
aggressive the dog, the better! These dogs sit in the boarding kennel
what the staff has labeled "death row". They have a red dot on their
which means "caution", therefore they do not go out to the exercise
are not given the extra attention and love the adoption animals should
An example of this would be Bandit, a 10 month old Husky. He was
due to divorce. He had horrible food bowl aggression, he sat in the
kennel for 3 weeks: unexercised, just waiting for his turn to be used
"demo dog" at Live Long and Prosper. After he served his purpose, he
The last Live Long and Prosper that we attended, a horrific 14 dogs
euthanized when the seminar ended. Sue took them all at once, in the
Van, which she dubbed the "death mobile." This was one of the most
devastating days, the staff was asked to bring the dogs out to the
the kennel van through tears of absolute devastation. To this day we
remember their names: Ely, Rebel, Seymore, Shamrock, Clover, Wacka,
Demon-Seed, Nella, Chloe, Champ, Bandit, Storm, and two last-minute
surrenders who weren't even brought down to the adoption kennel. One
reasons we were able to work at Rondout for so long was Sue's policy.
dog failed the temperament test, and was unadoptable by Sue's
staff members were able to take the dog home or privately place them.
main concern was always liability. Over the years we have adopted many
these dogs and also placed plenty of them. The dogs we placed
had no problems to date.
I don't know what brought about the change in policy, but as of
the staff was not allowed to take home or place any dog Sue found
unadoptable. (If Sue found a dog to be unadoptable, it was going to
we questioned her, her reply was always "I'm a professional." The
no longer able to contact a rescue group. The staff was not even
contact the people who surrendered the dog originally, unless it had
expressly written on the surrender contract. Unfortunately,
were aware of a person wanting to be contacted, but we
forgot to write it down. One very recent example of this was
beautiful Beagle. From day one, Sue did not like Valentino. He
temperament test and the staff routinely dressed him up in sweaters,
t-shirts, and carried him around. Sue found him "unsocial" and
cage card to read: "I am not a pet, I do not like people." We still
this card. Valentino did not like to have his feet touched, he
down, but he would make a lot of noise if you touched his feet. This
only on isolated occasions. The Rondout Valley Kennel
Receptionist/Dog-Trainer said that she felt he would never bite. He
basically telling you to leave him alone, and trying to get away from
not get "at you" for touching his feet. On this particular day, Sue
scheduled Valentino and another dog Sasha for euthanasia. The
Receptionist/Trainer and I pulled
read more »