Labeled as Gampr by the shelter, our volunteers pulled as a sight unseen
To understand the importance of proper identification, it is necessary to first have a basic understanding by reading What is a Gampr, then take a look at the Breed Description which also includes a mention about what is NOT a gampr. Finally, we describe the problems facing the breed with fighting dogs, or also known as Eurasion Gladiators, which leads to false labeling here in the US.
Since the beginning of AGCA, there have been ZERO club affiliated Armenian gamprs in shelters (that we have ever heard of). There have been very few re-homes but those were handled internally, usually with AGCA networking help. Occasionally, however, there are Eurasian gladiator types, in the Los Angeles area shelters that are improperly labeled as gampr. A few times there have been legitimate Gamprs, but more on that below.
In the last couple of decades, many Eurasion Gladiators, falsely labeled as Gampr (per the breeder in Armenia), have been imported to the Los Angeles area, through other means than AGCA affiliation. Now, many years later, there’s a large number of these dogs who have reproduced and are still being called "gampr" when they were descendants of fighting mixes and other breeds. Many breeders and importers in the greater Los Angeles area own dogs who have been purposefully bred to be meaner, more aggressive and typically, extremely large. A lot of these dogs are later cast off when they no longer want to deal with behavioral issues and these dogs often end up in a shelter.
To make matters even worse, now even the most well known breeders in Armenian are fraudulently selling mixed and fighting dogs to unsuspecting farms and homesteads in the US who think they are buying a Gampr. In the past, these breeders were more trustworthy and have had many great dogs but in the last two years have started participating in dog fighting and scamming buyers who do not know breed differences. AGCA is not affiliated with these breeders but is aware of the situation and is trying to combat it with public education.
Often these type dogs arrive at a shelter with short ears who look similar to a Gampr. Sometimes per the owner and at other times a shelter volunteer decides, they are labeled Gampr and made available for adoption. Through word of mouth, or the website, AGCA gets contacted often about these mixes. Our breed is a difficult breed for some to understand, and understandably so, many shelters do not know the breed, nor do they understand the placement risks or appropriate behavior.
Gladiator dogs are not Gamprs, they are not livestock guardian dogs. When Gladiator dogs need pulling from shelters it is a difficult situation since these dogs typically do not normally possess the correct instincts for self control, gentleness with children or livestock. Therefore, placing in homes with children, livestock or individuals who lack serious dog behavior knowledge, is incredibly risky, since they are no longer Gampr nor do they have the trusted, inherent traits of our breed. Some of these dogs may in fact be great dogs, but it's a risky decision to make.
The same dog in the photo above, after pick up from the shelter, obviously not a Gampr, but rehomed anyway. Afterwards, the dog ended up attacking her owner twice, unfortunately resulting in euthanasia.
Prior Rescue Work
in years past
During the start up of AGCA, our founder, Rohana Mayer, rescued many Gampr, gladiator types dogs and random mixes. With diligent outreach, new volunteers arose to help pull from shelters as well as homes who stepped up for placement. There were, at times, terrible results especially with the gladiator types. There were too many that could not work with livestock. Some dogs caused great harm to people, livestock or other dogs.
One dog in particular (see photos above), attacked her new owner and it resulted in euthanasia. The shelter staff assured us the dog was an Armenian Gampr, so we coordinated volunteers to pull her sight unseen. It was clear once seeing the dog in person that it was not in fact Gampr but looked to be a Mallinois/Golden Retriever type mix. Still, the volunteers took her, because the shelter wanted her gone asap. She was re-homed but unfortunately turned out to be viscous.
Gladiator type but labeled as Gampr in shelter. He rescued but rehabilitation failed due to aggressiveness, lack of self control, zero LGD ability. Failed placement.
A different rescue was placed with an experienced Gampr owner but turned out aggressive to other dogs and indirectly threatened the children. She was returned to the shelter. AGCA founder, Rohana Mayer, contacted the shelter directly and informed them the dog in fact was not a Gampr. Still, they continued to label her as a Gampr. The dog was later placed with a rescue person in North California. Because of the dangerous, false labeling, this dog is still often improperly cited as an example of the dangers of owning the “aggressive” Gampr breed.
This is just a few examples of the sometimes often dogs who show up, mislabeled as Gampr, and unfortunately it gives the true breed a bad reputation in certain circles.
Even still, the Club helped with dogs when possible, but after some placements backfired and farm placements dwindled to practically nothing. At that point, AGCA Club Founder, Rohana Mayer, started a 501(c)3 Gampr rescue which would be more capable handling rescues more appropriately, independently. One of the Rescue volunteers tried to take all of the dogs labeled Gampr, without consideration of the mixed Eurasion types, until eventually, a very aggressive fighting lines dog destroyed every kennel she had in order to fight the other dogs on the property. Thousands of dollars in vet bills later, the volunteer stopped taking Gamprs and changed the name and direction of the rescue. AGCA is no longer is affiliated with that rescue but continue to work with other reputable rescue organizations when dogs in need.
in years past
There have been times a dog was mislabeled as Gampr and when AGCA didn't offer placement there was some negative feedback from some members of the the rescue community. It was said that AGCA does not care, that they are “sick of seeing our breed dumped at the shelters.” The truth is, we are equally sick each time we see any dog show up in a shelter, all breeds, even the Eurasion Gladiator dogs. It is heartbreaking and incredibly sad.
We must however understand the difference between a true Armenian Gampr from a improperly identified dog and realize that our livestock homes are typically not the place to test unknown, mixed-dog personalities. The placement of dogs is a serious task and a potential danger to our network of farms, livestock and families. Currently there are no homes within our network who have placement for temperament testing unknown dogs. Hopefully in the future there will be a rescue facility just for this purpose but in the meanwhile we must continue to be selective, helping by networking and funding when dogs are in need.