Saturday, March 17, 2007

3 Little Strays

What a busy month for strays! It started off with Petey. He showed up with the neighbor dog and was a bit shy at first but was soon literally eating out of my hand.

A perfect dog. Got along great with kids, AND cats, and as a bonus was healthy and housetrained.

I don't want another dog right now though. If you read my blog enough you know that my own puppy, Said keeps me pretty busy!

I was able to get Petey into a pretty good private shelter in town. They kill dogs only if they have bad temperaments or have health problems. (I have no problem with that.) Due to that policy though, they have limited space for admissions so I kept Petey for 10 days or so until they had an opening.

The intake officer quite liked him and thought he would be adopted out quickly. It was a pleasant experience and I felt hopeful.

Our city run shelter (God love them) kills 400 dogs a week, each and every week. They have a very low adoption rate and dogs get 3 days before they are killed. They do accept each and every animal brought to them though and they get big points in my book for that.

A few days after taking Petey in I found another stray. He had a collar, leash and rabies tags on so I knew that the city shelter would be able to identify him and return him to his owner. This was Saturday so I had to keep him till Tuesday when the shelter reopened.

Then all of a sudden there was a new dog hanging around. This one looked just like Petey so we called it "Nupity" (for New Petey). She was about 4 months and very, very shy. It took many days for her to come within feet of me. Luckily the wonderful neighbor kids were patient enough to sit still until she came to them.

I got her into my yard and Said (9 months old now) got her into the house). I called the low kill shelter and was told to come in 3 days from then and they would be able to take her. I was a bit dismayed that I would not have time to tame her as much as I had Petey, but I didn't want to miss out on her chance to find a great home. I also didn't want to get too attached. She really touched me.

I delivered her with a heavy heart and pulled up horrified to see a line out the door. If I was horrified, imagine Nupity's reaction. She was just starting to show interest in small numbers of people. She went into shock and peed on me.

I'm not sure what all the people were doing there but we went ahead of them for our appointment.

I was asked much different questions than before. Why was I giving her up? Did I just have too many dogs or did I just not want her? I was stunned. I thought I was doing a good deed, helping a poor abandoned pup find a home. I was not shown gratitude but rather was made to feel like an irresponsible owner.

Now, I do know what it is like to work an intake desk at a shelter. The last shelter I volunteered at kicked me off the intake desk because of my inability to be friendly to people who were bringing in their dogs 3rd litter of pups or their cat because it didn't match the new couch. One guy said he was moving out of state so he couldn't take his dog and I asked him if he was moving to a state that didn't allow dogs because I had never heard of any such state. (That was the last day I was allowed to do intakes!)

It's pretty clear though (or should be) that I am a professional when I bring these dogs in, complete with a temperament test, photo's, food, free certificates for my training services and anything else I can think of to help them be more adoptable.

We have a huge problem with pet overpopulation in this country. The answer to it is a multifacted approach that is hard to implement (animal people don't usually work or play well together). It will take everyone working together and I try to do my part. I get many calls every day about strays people have found and I see many myself.

I can't keep them all or I will be one of the well meaning but very crazy people with housefuls of pets who aren't really well cared for at all. I am a dog trainer and radio show host. Rescuing dogs isn't really my responsibility. I'm not sure Nupity realizes that though and I can't stop thinking about her.

I totally understand why most people DON'T do anything about the dogs they see roaming the streets (let alone the cats). Most peole don't have the resources or expertise that I do. NO ONE wants to be made to feel as bad as I did, I'm sure.

I'm not going to let that stop me from doing what I feel is the right thing and helping out the animals that come into my life. I'll just find a different way to do it from now on.

It reminds me of a conversation I was having about poverty with a friend recently where he said that he did not believe at all that we would be the generation to end poverty. That didn't seem like a very positive attitude to me until then he followed that comment up by saying "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything we can to try".

The pet overpopulation problem may not be solved in my lifetime as politicians, shelters, rescue groups, trainers, etc. lose focus of the real problems, but that doesn't mean I am going to stop doing the best I can. And I will be encouraging everyone else to as well!


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