Shelter Dogs are Not Broken.

A friend on social media recently asked for recommendations for local dog breeders. She described the kind of dog she’s looking for, and since the animal shelter I volunteer at has dogs that match perfectly to those descriptions, I suggested my shelter to her. She was not open to the idea of adopting right now because she has a toddler daughter, but she said maybe when the girl gets “much older.”

I left it at that. I didn’t press her by asking why she thought she couldn’t adopt a dog with a toddler. Everyone has a right to get a dog where they want. I advocated for a shelter dog, as I will always do, but she went the other way. That happens.

That was the end of it until another person, we’ll call her Sally, joined in on the exchange and agreed with the woman that she shouldn’t get a rescue dog with a toddler. Sally said she wouldn’t adopt when her kids were young, and now that she has grandchildren, adopting is again out of the question even though she feels bad for shelter dogs.

I couldn’t keep quiet. I was cordial. No cussing. No writing in caps. But I couldn’t stand by and let these two women imply a falsehood that shelter dogs are more dangerous than other dogs. There is no truth to that. I have never seen any scientific research that states rescue dogs are inherently more dangerous than dogs that come from breeders.

I responded by first acknowledging that people can get their dogs anywhere they want, but I politely asked that they stop spreading this falsehood that families with toddlers shouldn’t adopt. Hundreds of families adopt from my shelter every year, and thousands across the country, and we can’t let the sentiment be that those parents are putting their kids in danger because they went to a rescue.

It is true that some dogs come to my shelter with behavioral issues because of the abuse they endured at the hands of a human, but animals are temperament tested and it is decided which dogs can be in a home with children. Dogs suffering from the effects of an abusive background work with a trainer to help alleviate their issues, and then they are placed in a compatible home. But if a parent is concerned about a dog’s past, shelters are filled with puppies. I know mine always is.

If a person decides not to rescue a dog and be a part of the solution to reducing the number of dogs killed every year, then at the very least don’t deter other people from adopting by spreading untruths about shelter dogs. At the very least, speak up for rescue dogs. Encourage other people to adopt even if adopting doesn’t fit your needs. Donate to your local shelter. Volunteer. Give a shelter dog your time. They deserve it.

Millions of dogs enter shelters across the country and never make it out alive. The odds are already stacked against shelter dogs, please don’t make it harder for them to find homes.

Be their advocate.

We are their voice.

 

I've waited for you

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Adopt a Rescue Dog

Two weeks ago I was given news I had spent years asking the universe for. Sevvy, a dog that had lived over two years at the shelter I volunteer at, was finally adopted. We’ve had some teases before of pending adoptions that never went through, but finally it seems that Sevvy has found her home.

Sevvy is a five-year old pit-bull mix who had been adopted from the shelter as a puppy, but brought back, adopted out again, and then returned again when she became possessive of her toys with the children in the house.

Finally, after two long years, Sevvy has found a home, and I hope she never steps foot in the shelter again. As much I love and miss her, I hope to never see her face again, except through a chance meeting at a park somewhere. It would be wonderful to run into Sevvy and see her enjoying life on the “outside.”

There are so many loving animals in shelters all over the country like Sevvy who are great dogs, but have been let down by humans. I don’t know if the couple who rescued Sevvy really understand the importance of what they did. Sevvy was taking anti-anxiety medication because life in a shelter is chaotic and loud and unsettling. Sevvy was showing signs of distress that only medication could help. Hopefully Sevvy doesn’t have to take anti-anxiety medications anymore.

If you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local animal shelter or animal control facilities. There may be an anxiety-ridden dog there like Sevvy who desperately wants to get off her meds.

 

 

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and I’m watching Love Actually for actually the twelfth time this month. Every time it’s on, I gotta watch it. And it’s on a lot.

Tonight’s a quiet night. As I write this my favorite furry friend is lying beside me on the couch, all cuddled up in a blanket. I bought him a birthday cake today because it will be eight years on Dec 26 that I made the best decision of my life and went to Animal Control and brought this baby home with me. I’ve designated Dec 26 as his birthday. I was told when I got him that he was two years old, so that means my boy has hit the double-digits.

Phil is the first dog I’ve had since our family dog passed away when I was a teenager. I can’t believe I let so much time pass before getting another dog. It’s hard to remember my life before him. It must have been so empty without a dog, and I didn’t even know it. I’ve been grateful for him ever since.

This is my Christmas post and I don’t want to be too melancholy, but I’ve spent the last 24 hours reflecting on some horrible tragedies that have recently happened. I woke up this morning to the news that a tsunami in India had killed over two hundred people. This after going to bed reading about the brutal murders of two Scandinavian tourists women in Morocco.

It’s enough to make one wonder how there could be a God that allows suffering like this to happen in the world. I know that’s a sacrilegious thing to say two days before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but I can’t honestly say I don’t have my doubts.

For now I’m going to cuddle up with my dog while I acknowledge that though this may be the season of joy and the time to be merry, there are people all over the world struggling right now with grief or loneliness or a loss of a loved one. Maybe that loss was so recent and unexpected that there are wrapped presents under the tree for that loved on who is no longer here. What do they do with those presents and how do they carry on? As they hold that unopened present will they remember when they bought the gift and the anticipation they felt at watching the expression on their loved one’s face as they open the gift they’re sure they’ll love?

These are depressing sentiments. I know. But these are the thoughts that cloud my mind when tragedies happen so close to the  holidays.

I hope all of those people struggling find peace.

Merry Christmas, and give your dog a hug if you have one. They love that.

 

 

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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.

 

 

No More Bottled Water For Me

I started this blog four years ago with the intention to use it as a platform for my writing, yet I’m sure posts about animals outnumber posts about writing tenfold. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Nothing would satisfy me more than to be the reason someone saves an animals from a shelter as opposed to visiting a pet store or breeder.

Yes, there are reputable breeders out there, and in a perfect world I think shelters and reputable breeders would be the only places people would get dogs. But this isn’t a perfect world. It never was.  And people are greedy assholes and have no problem breeding dogs in horrendous conditions without proper care, all for the sake of profit.

It’s easier to over-breed a dog for 10 years, keep her in filthy conditions, make a ton of money off her, and then toss her in a shelter or shoot her and leave her in a ditch somewhere, (yes, this happens) than to get a real job and actually work for a living.

I know not all breeders are like this, but until we are no longer killing animals every year because there is no space for them in shelters, I’ll never understand why people would go to a breeder, or how a good person would ever think to add more dogs to an already over-populated world of canines and become a breeder.

You are part of the problem. As two of my favorite sayings go: “Don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die” and “Every dog bred is a shelter dog dead.”

These are slogans I have seen at puppy mill and pet store protests I’ve been to, and they’ve really stuck with me.

Wait, I seem to have gone on about shelter dogs again. I do that a lot. But this post was not supposed to be about animals. I wanted to blog about something I decided to do while I was the shelter today, playing in a yard with one of the dogs named, Sevvy.  It was pretty warm out, and I had a bottle of water with me.

I sipped my water and it was ice cold, even though I had filled the bottle over an hour ago. The bottle was a reusable container, not plastic, and it was the kind that keeps the water at a cold temperature for over 12 hours. The cold water was so refreshing I had to ask myself why I even drink plastic bottled water.

Like many people I’m sure, plastic water bottles became a permanent fixture in my refrigerator, and I used to think nothing to grab a bottle, sit on my couch in front of my TV, and drink away. After doing this for many years and thinking there was nothing wrong with it because I recycle, I finally asked myself the simple question, “Why”?

Why do I need to drink bottled water? A while back, I decided I wouldn’t drink any bottled water while in my house. I had installed a simple water purifier system to my faucet and drank water the old fashioned way – with a cup.

I made the “no drinking bottled water” rule at home for me, while nagging everyone else in my home to do the same thing, yet never asked myself why I thought it was okay to grab a bottled water when I was on the go, especially since I have about a dozen reusable bottles in my house.

So, I was thinking today at the shelter, as I was drinking from my non-plastic reusable water bottle, that I will make a pledge to not use one single plastic water bottle for the entire month and since this is the first of the month, it’s a perfect time to start.

Again, I don’t use a lot of plastic water bottles to begin with, but I don’t see a reason I should use any at all.  I will drink from the faucet with my purifier and use reusable bottles when away from home.

Recycling is great and something we all should so, but reducing our waste is even better. It uses up a lot of energy to recycle, and it’s better for the environment to reduce first. So that will be my goal this month, to not just reduce my bottled water consumption but eliminate it.

My other goal is to finally finish that novel I’ve been working on for almost a year…right almost forgot about that.  Priorities.

 

Water-for-drinking

 

Give a Shelter Dog a Look

I was talking to a fellow volunteer at the animal shelter tonight and with a very somber tone she told me that fifteen of her friends have gotten their dogs from breeders, some just recently.

She was disappointed because everyone who knows enough about her to be considered a friend, knows that she volunteers at a dog rescue. Yet, not one of those friends had inquired about any of the dogs at the shelter.

She expressed to me her disbelief that her friends had not considered giving a home to a shelter dog since millions of dogs are killed each year because shelters run out of space to keep them. “They all want purebreds,” she’d said hopelessly.

I knew what this woman was feeling. I have friends, family, and neighbors who got their dogs from breeders, and I have a hard time with it too. I know everyone has the right to get their dog wherever they want (a breeder or those dreaded pet stores), but it’s so hard to understand why a person wouldn’t jump at the chance to save a life.

When you’re involved in rescue and see these amazing animals that are so deserving of loving homes, as well as being around other volunteers who also see adoption as the only option, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole part of the population that has never stepped foot into an animal shelter or have any consideration for their lives.

People in rescue think about the lives of these animals all the time and want to save them all, and it’s easy to assume everyone else does too, because…why wouldn’t they? These are homeless dogs we’re talking about.

Yet, there are people who think shelter dogs are broken and dirty and don’t live up to the status they feel having a pure-breed brings. Not everyone is like this, but I’ve seen and heard stories about enough of them to know there is sometimes a stigma attached to rescue dogs.

I’d like to help break this. If you’re reading this, and you have never considered rescuing a dog, please do. Give a shelter dog a try.  I promise, it will quickly become the best thing you’ve ever done.

I have a pit bull mix that I adopted. I would say pit bulls are my favorite breed, but really, rescue is my favorite breed.

Please rescue your next pet.

 

This is Sevvy. She’s a dog who has been at my shelter for almost two years. She is great with people, but has issues with other dogs. Still, she is so deserving of a loving home because she is am absolute sweetheart.

When searching for your next pet, please don’t overlook the ones who may not be perfect on paper, like Sevvy. She may need some extra work and patience to overcome her dog aggression, but she is definitely worth it.

Thanks for reading.

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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