Thursday, July 28, 2011

Animal Cruelty and Pro Dog Legislation

I've seen too many horror stories about dog abuse in the past couple of weeks.  Of course, even one story in a lifetime is too many.

The Bad

This week there was an article on a dog nearly decapitated, but found alive.  Though veterinarians tried to save her, she died.  The perpetrator was caught. 

 Tonight there's an article on a puppy being stomped to death.  The man who did it was retaliating against his girlfriend, who would not go out to buy him more beer.

There's the sheriff in Kentucky who killed a stray dog and her newborn puppies.  The dog, chained, lunged at him, he said.  So he shot her, and said he took the just born pups to a shelter to be "euthanized."  Did he consider that the dog probably felt threatened and was defending her pups?  Rescue had been arranged, but the woman who took the dog in was out on a 15 minute errand when the killing occurred.

The Good 

Jerry Brown, governor of California, has signed a bill to prohibit the sale of pets on public property, such as street corners.  Thank you Jerry Brown.

Texas has passed puppy mill legislation, setting minimum standards for puppy mills.  This, at least, is a step forward, I suppose, but mills need to be entirely shut down.

Suffolk county New York is working on legislation to ban the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet shops.  Thanks to those legislators who support this bill; hoping it passes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Which Dog To Save?

I've been remiss again, neglecting this fledgling blog. I might blame it on the ennui of summer; extreme heat, the air warm, heavy, damp, like breathing in fog. I close the blinds against the sun, and feel I'm in a cave. Mainly, I miss taking Perry and Kita for trail walks. It's too hot, and, anyway, it's tick season. Perry and Kita lie around, tired after briefly trying to dig lizards out from their hiding spots.

This post is purely personal, though I suspect anyone who does rescue, and many who have adopted from a kill shelter, have had the same dilemma I'm going to write about.

I've spent too much time looking at the "URGENT" lists for two rural shelters east of the city, both over an hour away. The shelters are small, poor. This morning, after putting in a few work hours, I was going to rush to one, save a particular dog who was to be killed today. But last night I saw that the dog I was going to get was rescued, and the other dogs had been given a brief reprieve, until Monday. But more dogs were added to the list.

The second shelter is perhaps sadder, with photographs of dogs in indoor kennels that look rather dark, the floor traditional cement. The adoption fee is only $20 for a dog, $30 for a younger puppy. The dogs are not vetted.

There's a sad Beagle mix, a rather plain looking dog. His write up says he didn't know what treats were when he came to the shelter, and didn't understand human affection. Then there's a 5 month old black dog, a lab mix, who looks so frightened.

I want to bring them both home. I want to bring them all home. How, after all, do you leave behind the matronly, older Beagle? Or the beautiful but thin and frightened Bluetick Coonhound?

I cannot really afford even one more dog. Perry needs his teeth cleaned, and it's time to buy more heartworm preventative. I buy Blue Buffalo, which isn't cheap, and at 78 pounds, Kita goes through it rather quickly. My truck needs work and I need new work boots. Hell, I need new sandals and a visit to the dentist myself.

And I know what it costs for an unvetted dog: Heartworm test and preventative (and hope the dog doesn't have heartworm); vaccinations; general check up, and hope the dog is healthy. A friend spent $400 on his Beagle from the local shelter, clearing up worms and other maladies, and the Beagle had his full set of vaccinations and was neutered when adopted.

But mainly, it's deciding which dog to bring home. How do you leave others behind, facing death if no one else wants them? How do you decide? I've done it before. I'm not sure how -- I probably told myself the others would find homes. But I no longer delude myself in that way.

So I talk myself out of taking in another dog, for now, a rational decision, an inability to save one and leave others behind, perhaps a personal failing.

Added Two Days Later:  The day after writing the above, still haunted by the two dogs I especially wanted to get out of the shelter, I went to the shelter's Pet Finder page.  There had been around 12 dogs and a litter of puppies at the shelter.  But yesterday, there were only 2 dogs and the puppies.

I knew that 10 dogs hadn't been adopted overnight.  I knew they had been killed.  I told them I was sorry.  I cried without making a sound.  I told myself at least someone was grieving for them, but that rang hollow.  What good did my grieving do?

This is what failure feels like.