by Patty Adjamine
The man walked into the lobby of the animal shelter.
Behind him, two dogs followed faithfully, without leashes. Both dogs
were calm, obedient and apparently well-trained Chow mixes. Their
guardian was distraught.
The man waited nervously on a line of other people
surrendering animals to the pound. His eyes were desperate as the two
dogs stood quietly beside him. He frantically looked around the lobby.
He spotted me with two cats in carriers as I was taking
papers from a shelter worker and preparing to leave. He quickly sensed a
rescue situation and begged me if I could also take his dogs. "My dogs
are wonderful," he told me. "They are well trained, gentle,
affectionate, good with kids. They are only two-years-old. I am moving
and cannot take them with me. My animals need a loving home!"
I could see his dogs were nice dogs. One of them licked
my hand when I petted him. But, I could not take them.
I explained to the desperate man that while I could not
immediately take his dogs, I would get their intake numbers and let him
know what was happening with the animals. I promised, if possible I
would try to find a placement situation for them. He gave me his pager
number as he did not yet have a phone. He then reluctantly signed his
dogs over to the shelter. When a shelter worker came to take the animals
away, both dogs tried desperately pulling back towards their former
owner. The former guardian fought back tears and then forced himself to
look the other way -- and exit the shelter doors.
That evening I called the shelter to check on the status
of the dogs.
One had already been "put to sleep."
I was told that both dogs behaved "aggressively" in the
shelter. One had been euthanized because he had attempted to bite a
shelter worker. The other was being held for another day or two for a
"reevaluation." I asked if I could see the surviving dog and was told I
I raced to the shelter to see the dog who still was
alive. From the back of the cage, this formerly friendly and loving dog
was now snarling and assumed a defensive/aggressive posture. The same
dog who earlier licked my hand, now threatened to lunge at me. I dared
not attempt to pet him. He was terrified.
Upon arriving home, I immediately called the former
owner's pager number. Less than five minutes later he called me back. I
told him what happened and about his surviving dog. "If you want this
dog to live, you need to get to the shelter and reclaim him immediately!
He is not going into adoptions."
The man started screaming hysterically on the phone.
"THEY KILLED MY DOG??!!"
I tried to explain that his sweet, loving dogs had
become fearful and stressed in the shelter. There was no way the shelter
could have placed them, but the man was no longer listening to me.
The next day the Director of the Shelter called to
admonish me for giving the man the information. "The man caused a scene
in the shelter! We had to return the dog to him. We cannot have this
kind of chaos!" I told him he should be happy that his shelter had one
less dog to kill.
This true event happened several years ago. Since then I
have witnessed hundreds of formerly loved and loving pets suddenly
undergo drastic personality changes when subjected to the stresses,
depression and fears associated with abandonment and being thrust into
unfamiliar and frightening surroundings. Sadly, most of these pets die.
The lesson to be learned is that the acquisition of
animals is a responsibility. When one's bond to a pet is broken for
whatever reason, too often, there is no one else to "pick up the pieces"
of that broken commitment. Shelters and rescue groups are not the
"solution." We are merely a stopgap for SOME animals. But, quite
literally millions fall through the cracks. The real solution is in
YOU ARE YOUR ANIMALS' "LOVING HOME."
Go on to The Pieces of
Return to 27 October 2002 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright