Victor

Last week I went to the animal shelter I volunteer at and was meant with tragic news. A dog that had been with us for over a year had died some time during the night. The news was devastating, but not shocking. Victor had been going through medical issues for a while. The shelter had been asking volunteers for months if anyone would take him in an a permanent foster so that he could live out whatever life he had left in the comfort of a home. The problem was that Victor needed to be in a home with no other pets. Most volunteers, like myself, have pets at home.

It was sad to watch Victor spend his days in a loud and crowded shelter. It’s a stressing place to be. No place for any dog, let alone a sick, older guy. He was nine. He had come to the shelter when he was eight. The circumstances to how he ended up with us are not fair at all. Victor had been living a good life with his owner on property the owner managed. Then a new landlord came in, took one look at Victor (an American Bulldog) and said that dog’s got to go. Suddenly Victor found himself in a shelter where he stayed until the day he died.

Victor didn’t bite anyone. He didn’t attack anyone. He did no harm. Yet, still he got locked up. That’s what a shelter is to a dog. Even shelters like mine, who treat their animals with loving care and give them all the medical attention they need, are still prisons to these dogs. Shelters are not supposed to be permanent homes, but way too often, too many dogs die there. Either naturally due to medical/age reasons. Or by euthanasia because there is juts not enough space for all of them.

But there would be if more people got involved to help with this overpopulation epidemic this country has. I saw a picture on social media last week of a line of people waiting to foster dogs before hurricane Florence came. My first thought was, where are all these people when local shelters and animals controls have to kill dogs for lack of room? Why is the thought of a dog dying in a hurricane so much worse than a dogs getting a needle or the gas chamber that people flocked to line up to take these dogs in? I’m glad they did, but where are they all the other times a dog’s life is in danger, which is every day?

Maybe because there’s more hoopla with a hurricane. People feel like they’re doing a bigger deed when they foster or adopt a “hurricane dog” as opposed to just a regular dog from the local shelter. I remember when Hurricane Harvey happened and many local shelters, including my own, took in many of those dogs left abandoned and people came out in droves to help out.

Again, it’s great that they do that, but where are they when dogs are killed every single day? It is beyond frustrating. You’re not a bigger hero when you save a hurricane dog as opposed to a dog sitting in a kennel with the clock ticking against it. Most dogs run out of time. Maybe shelters have to be more vocal about what will happen to these dogs if they don’t get out. The shelter I volunteer at is no-kill. I have that luxury of knowing the dogs I come to love, like I did Victor, will get all the time they need to find a home. But they’re still racing against the clock because the older a dog gets, the less likely a person will adopt them. And as in Victor’s case, sometimes your health takes you before you find a home.

Victor deserved better than taking his last breath alone in a kennel. He deserved to be in a comfy bed or snuggled on the couch with his human who loved him, but he was cruelly taken away from his human. He just wanted a home with a bed and lots of hugs and kisses.These breed-specific-laws and breed discrimination has to end. Victor wasn’t a danger to anyone. He was a shelter favorite.

Victor was a goofy, gentle, and playful dog, despite the pain his condition put him through. Make no mistake, Victor was loved where he was. It’s hard seeing his kennel empty and will be even harder to see his kennel with another dog in it because for over a year I have been used to seeing his beautiful face. Miss you. Love you.

If you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local shelter. Please don’t go to breeders or pet stores while shelter animals die.

 

 

Why You Should Adopt Your Next Pet

I write a lot about shelter animals on this blog. They’ve been a passion of mine since I rescued my pit bull mix, Phil, from my local Animal Control facility seven years ago and started volunteering at my local humane society.  I advocate for people to get their pets from shelters, as opposed to pet stores or breeders, because I’ve seen first hand the many dogs in need of homes.

Human failure is usually the reason these innocent babies end up in shelters and the reason for these dogs’ pain, so humans should be the reason they are saved. We owe them that.

For every scared dog, there is a human who brought fear into its life.

For every dog needy for attention, there is a human who never showed it affection.

For every dog emaciated, there is a human who let it starve.

The place I got Phil is an open, public facility. They have room to house 300 dogs, and last week they sent out an SOS all over social media that they are full, and they put out a list of super urgent dogs–dogs that are days or even hours away from being killed.

Last month, this facility was in the same situation they’re in now. They were full and begging for people to adopt or foster their dogs. The public came through, and there was a record number of adoptions for January.

Lots of dogs were saved.

But then February crashed the party and adoptions slowed, while the line of people surrendering their dogs to the facility splayed out the door. If eleven dogs were adopted, twenty-nine were left at the shelter by their owner.

This is another way humans fail these dogs–they give them up. Shelters are filled with animals people no longer want. The most common reason is the dogs’ families no longer have time for them.

It’s heartbreaking because after a life of living in a home, these dogs are left in a stressful, crowded place, filled with barking dogs. These confused dogs have no idea what is happening or why they are there.

Some dogs simply shutdown.

I’ve been monitoring the Animal Control’s Facebook Page to keep up with the status of the most urgent dogs, and it seems I’m not the only one. There is an entire community of people networking for these dogs. It’s so inspiring to see and gives me so much hope that more people are seeing that dogs in shelters are not broken, and they are deserving of a home.

Millions of dogs are killed every year. Please adopt your next pet. If financial reason are keeping you from adopting, please consider fostering. Shelters and rescues pay all expenses. If you’re concerned about getting attached to a dog and then having to  say goodbye, I understand. I’ve considered that, too. But I decided my temporary heartbreak is worth saving a life.  If fostering isn’t an option for you, volunteer at your local shelter, or support them by donating.

Phil wants the rest of his furry friends to find their furever homes, too.

 

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Rupert, A Shelter Dog

A week ago, I received the best news. One of the dogs that had been at my shelter for eight months was finally adopted. I was ecstatic. I cried a mixture of happy and sad tears.  Happy tears because this little guy, Rupert, was so deserving of a loving family (they all are), and sad tears because I had developed a special bond with Rupert.

I was his handler for over five months of training courses. He wasn’t a very good student and together we failed the first Basic Training class, but in the second go-round we were head of the class. 🙂

Rupert had come to the shelter as a rambunctious 7 month old boxer/pit mix whose previous family used drugs in lieu of proper training to keep this energetic puppy under control. This lazy approach wasn’t effective, but with a lot of work from all the shelter volunteers, Rupert learned his manners and became a very polite little boy.

Three days ago, Rupert’s new family returned him to the shelter. I was shocked because I couldn’t imagine anyone taking this sweet baby home only to have second thoughts. But despite the tremendous strides Rupert had taken in his behavior, a chaotic life with young kids may have been too much for him. When Rupert saw the children playing he most likely got overly-excited, and when he decided he wanted to play too he scared one of the kids.

That was all it took for Rupert to find himself back in the confines of his little kennel. I went to see him today. He doesn’t seem too phased by what happened. Maybe he thinks he was just away on a mini-vacation. I hope that’s the case. The last thing I want is for this little guy’s morale to break. I’ve seen dogs shut down in shelters and it’s an awful sight to witness.

Until the day some other lucky family discovers this gem of a dog, I’ll enjoy whatever time I have left with this sweet baby and give him all the love I can.

If you’re considering getting a pet, please visit your local shelter. So many wonderful animals, like Rupert, are waiting for their furever home.

 

Please Adopt Your Next Pet. A Life is Waiting to be Saved.

Tonight I saw a disgusting video of a sick fuck piling innocent and beautiful dogs into a large steel bin, close the lid, and gas them all to death. I don’t know where this took place or if any effort was made to find these precious babies homes, or if he networked with a rescue, but all the dogs are dead.

Some dogs went into the crate with no fuss, trusting the arms that carried them, unaware of their own tragic fate, while others put up a struggle they lost.

Death is the sad reality for millions of homeless dogs and cats because there aren’t enough people adopting. We have a dog and cat overpopulation problem in America. People aren’t neutering their pets, while others are irresponsibly over-breeding dogs, and pet stores are selling dogs from over-crowded puppy mills where they are inhumanely treated — all for profit.

I have a very hard time understanding why people go anywhere but a shelter for their pets. I’ve heard all the reasons: “I want a puppy.” Believe it or not, there TONS of puppies at shelters. Or, “I want a certain breed.” There are shelters dedicated to rescuing specific breeds. Or, “I want to be cool and have an expensive, unique-looking designer dog.” Okay, this last one I made up, but I imagine that’s what people want when they drop thousands of dollars for their custom-made pet that will be given some fancy, foo-foo made-up breed name when really all the dog is, is a mutt — just like the millions of adorable mixed breeds dying in shelters every day.

I cried when I watched this video tonight. I’m not sure how anyone with a soul couldn’t. However, if anyone who watches videos of innocent dogs being killed feels outraged, but gets their pets from a pet store or breeder then dry your tears because you are part of the problem. You are the reason why dogs are being killed every year by the millions.

If you shop for you pets, or breed your pets, or don’t neuter your pets, then pat yourselves on the backs because you have contributed to the deaths of millions of innocent dogs.

I know, I know. We all have the right to get our dogs where ever we want. Free country and all, but please save your tears or your horror when you see dogs being killed for lack of homes because you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Below is the video of this heart-wrenching murder of innocent dogs. I hope anyone who goes to pet stores or breeders for their dogs will change their minds and visit their local shelter instead.

 

 

Did you know

 

 

 

 

Even Animals Know a Good Day

It’s Friday. That fact alone is cause for celebration for most people. But when forecasts call for a beautiful and sunny Friday, in a season that has consisted of temperatures that have kept most people in doors, it would be no shock to learn if bosses all across the state woke up to early calls from employees suddenly too sick to come to work.

The temperature hovers near 60 degrees, up from freezing temps only a week ago. Aside from being a little windy, the day is almost perfect. One can feel a shift in the air. Daylight is hanging around a little longer. I heard birds chirping in trees they hadn’t been gathered in for a while.

 A change of seasons is soon to begin.

Phil seems to sense something is different, too. He was sitting by the door this afternoon and when I let him out he stood on the patio and lifted his face against the wind. He closed his eyes and sat still for a couple moments. I knew then that he wanted to be outside just to be outside. His waiting by the door wasn’t for his usual doggie business. No, he wanted to be outside to enjoy the gorgeous day because even animals know a beautiful day when they see one.

So I brought his bed out and as soon as I laid the bed down, he plopped himself comfortably inside it. I wrapped him in a blanket because of the wind and Phil loves his blankies so he seemed happy. I watched him for a while from inside the house. I smiled at his sense of calmness and satisfaction. I left him be and went downstairs and wrote a little until I heard him barking to come back inside. (I suppose one needs a break from even the most gorgeous of days.)

Once he was inside the house, he lingered near the glass sliding door as though he wasn’t quite ready to let go of the beautiful day just yet. So I dropped his bed beside the door and watched him lay in it and plop his head against the cushion and watch the outside with an aura of peaceful contentment.

As a doggie momma it was very satisfying to see my baby living such a pleasing moment and I reflected on the animals who will never live the kind of day my dog has realized today. Whether it be mother dogs crammed inside small cages in puppy mills where they are bred until they are dry, without any veterinary care.

Or farm animals trapped inside dingy over-crowded factories who’ve never felt grass beneath their feet or felt the warmth of the sun against their skin. Animals love nature and need it as much as humans do because even animals know a good day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to End BSL. It’s Discrimination.

In December, 2010 I adopted a dog named, Phil.  The same dog who is asleep right now in a tangled mess of sheets in my bed. The same dog I have been obsessed with since the day I brought him home. He is a pit/lab mix and I didn’t even consider the “pit” part of him when I saw him on Pet Harbor and decided to drive to Animal Control to visit him. I love Labradors. It was the Lab in him that caught my eye, but the pit bull mix part didn’t deter me in anyway because I had no preconceived notions about pit bulls. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to mainstream media news that love to portray pit bulls as inherently mean and aggressive dogs who want to do nothing but tear your limbs apart.

With all dogs come the possibility of a bite if the dog is mistreated, teased, or trained to be aggressive. And we know that pit bulls are the most abused breed out there. Every day I am so grateful that I didn’t let ignorance prevent me from bringing Phil home. But when I ask myself if my decision would have been different if I’d been paying a little more attention to the negative portrayal of pit bulls in the news headlines, and I wonder if Phil would be sleeping peacefully in my bed right now. I’m not sure. And that scares the hell out of me because Phil had already been with Animal Care and Control for a couple months by the time I got to him.

In fact, when I brought him in for his veterinary check-up shortly after adopting him, the Dr. told me she was surprised he was kept that long. I was crushed. Over-crowded kill shelters don’t give dogs a lot of time to find homes. And most of these shelters, especially city shelters where I found Phil, seem to be filled with mostly pit bulls, a breed not everyone is willing to bring home. (But I know from experience they are missing out on a great breed of dog.)

As a pit bull owner, I am really concerned about Breed Specific Legislation. BSL does nothing but make it harder for dogs like Phil to find homes. I didn’t know about BSL when I brought Phil home. I didn’t know there could have been external factors preventing me from having Phil as a pet, a companion. Phil has been an amazingly loving dog to me for six amazing years and it infuriates me to think that some city ban, or insurance policy, or association could have told me Phil wasn’t allowed to stay with me.

But yet, some people have to adhere to ordinances placed by people who have never known a pit bull personally (I am sure of this because to know a pit bull is to love a pit bull) and as a result, great dogs never make it out of shelters alive.

People who support BSL believe it is an effective way to prevent dog attacks by basically profiling and discriminating against a specific breed. Even though that “specific breed” has no “specific look” because it includes over five different breeds, including mixes, the legislation continues to ban dogs whether that particular dogs is a danger to society or not.

The term “pit bull” is actually an umbrella reference to include up to five different breed of dogs and mixes. There is no set rule to determine if a dog is actually a pit bull. If a dog looks strong and has a big head, it most likely will be deemed a pit bull, thus decreasing the odds that dog will find a home, despite how sweet and loving the dog may be, and also puts the dog at risk of being a victim of BSL.

BSL wreaks of mistaken identity and unfair judgement that cost innocent dogs their lives. Phil doesn’t know that being part pit bull means he’s supposed to be mean because all he wants to do is cuddle with his blankies and give sloppy kisses.

If the town I live in passed BSL they could legally force me to muzzle my dog any time he is in public despite the face that he has never bitten anyone as long for as I’ve had him.

If you’re interested in learning more about BSL and why it’s not effective, please visit the link below.

http://www.realpitbull.com/laws.html

And if you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local shelter or Animal Control. Please don’t be put off if your shelter has an influx of pit bulls because despite being given the same generic breed name, all of these dogs are so different in looks and personalities.

 

My baby taking an afternoon nap in his mama’s bed

Don’t Bully My Breed

I got into an argument today with a stranger on Twitter about BSL – Breed Specific Legislation. BSL is legislation cities can pass directly targeting a specific breed of dog. Some ordinances completely ban a breed from an entire city (Denver and Miami has done this).

The person I was exchanging words with was in support of banning pit bulls (which technically isn’t a breed).  “Pit Bull” is commonly used as an umbrella term for dogs with boxy-shaped heads, are stocky, appear strong in stature, and, of course, look “mean.” The term “pit bull” generally covers a few types of breeds: American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, and Bull Terrier.

If found as strays, or rescued from abusive and neglectful situations, these dogs will be categorized as “pit bulls” and with it, in some situations, a death sentence will be imposed upon them because not many people, it seems, are willing to bring home a dog labelled “pit bull.” Most of these dogs will never leave the shelter they are dropped off at alive. 

BSL is another obstacle these already abused and misunderstood dogs have to endure when trying to find a home. At the local shelter I volunteer at  there was a pit/lab mix named Sable. She was a loving dog who wanted nothing more than to have her belly rubbed and to play with a hose. A family wanted to take her home, but found out their home association didn’t allow pit bulls. Sable would have to wait nine more months before she would finally leave the shelter.

But while she was there, I’d hear other volunteers ask, as they’d pet Sable through the cage with her body pressed against the bars, savoring the attention, “Why are you still here? You’re so adorable. Why are you still here?”

I remember wanting to yell, “Because she’s a fucking pit bull! And people are afraid of pit bulls no matter how sweet they are!”

Of course, I didn’t yell that. I didn’t say anything. I walked away, pissed that there is yet one more obstacle these poor dogs have to fight to find a home. Sable was forced to spend her days in a kennel instead of a home because of BSL. And that isn’t fair or right.

I was arguing with this person on Twitter that BSL kills pit bulls because it makes it harder for them to find homes. When pit bulls don’t find homes, they die. My shelter is a no kill-shelter, but if it wasn’t, Sable would have been put-down. Killed. And she deserved to live. They all do. Thankfully, Sable did find a home, but most are not so lucky.

To me, BSL is straight-up discrimination. We are blaming not just one breed of dog for the aggressive actions of a few dogs, who were made to be mean, but five breeds. How can that be right? I’m always leery of media reports of pit bull attacks because how do they know for sure it was a pit bull? Since “pit bull” is already categorized to include five breeds, throw in mixes, and it’s nearly impossible to know for sure the exact breed of dog.

The probability is that the media doesn’t know for sure the dog is a pit bull. But that doesn’t stop the headlines that target pit bulls, because those headlines sell newspapers. Those headlines get people’s attention more than “Some Type of Mix Dog Attacks Man on Train!”

I think pet owners should be held accountable for what their animals do. A dog doesn’t just maul a person out of the blue. There are signs of aggression before that happens, and I’d bet everything I have that it was the owners who made those dogs that way.

I adopted a pit bull mix. I didn’t have to train him to be the sweetheart that he is. He came to me that way. Dogs labelled “pit bulls” are not born mean. They are loving dogs who deserve to live. They deserve homes.

If the town you live in is considering BSL or currently has BSL, please do all you can to stop or end it.  It is wrong. And it kills. These dogs need more people to advocate for them. They don’t need any more adversaries. They already have enough of those.  If you can, adopt a pit. Give a “pit bull” a chance. I can say from experience that you won’t be sorry.

 

Sable, the chocolate lab/pit mix and my baby, Phil. Two “pit bulls” who found loving homes. I wish they all do.