Buddy, my 10 year old Golden Retriever, has been asking for a companion for many months now. Since his Alpha Male died – my husband Bob – he seems to be looking for someone else to take his place. True, he has me, but I don’t run with him the way Bob did; I do walk with him, but we spend so much time “watering” people’s lawns that neither of us is getting a good cardio workout.
A friend of mine is looking for a dog, so today we visited the Animal Shelter and Humane Society. He was looking for a Border Collie mix, and I am looking for – well – a doggie dog.
Neither of us were aware that the two shelters are housed in the same building. Neither of us was aware that the Humane Society that used to be on Sherman is now on Gaines. On the outside, both shelters are in beautiful, green surroundings, with benches to sit on while you get to know the dog you have picked out, and there is even a “snack shack” to whet your whistle if needed. (In fact, my friend forgot to take his pills this morning and he asked the girl in the shack if he could have some water. She apologized and said she didn’t have any to pour, but gave him a bottle of water out of the cooler. She would not let him pay for it. When you are old you get all sorts of perks!)
We went in to the first door that was marked “entrance” and was greeted by a well dressed lady that gave us a paper to fill out in case we found a dog we liked. She pointed us to the beginning of the dog kennels. Oh my! Those poor dogs! There are doors upon doors of dogs looking for new homes. I was amazed at the number of Pit Bull/Pit Bull mixes. I would guess that 90% of the dogs were of that breed. There were a few Chihuahua’s; two husky’s; small rat-looking dogs; a poodle mix, etc., but they all had two things in common: There were feces in every one of their kennels and the kennels smelled unclean. Feces everywhere. In their “beds”; on the floor; in corners, etc. Ventilation, if there was any, was practically non-existent. Even if I found a dog for Buddy, I don’t think I could have brought it home without taking it to the OB Dog Wash first. Just the thought of putting it in the car makes me shudder. (I was so glad that my friend was driving just in case…..)
We looked at all the dogs in the “Dog Pound” and were then directed to the opposite end of the building to look at the dogs at the Humane Society. It was like walking from the Ghetto to Beverly Hills.
We were also met by a nice young lady; she directed us to the kennels of their dogs. Kennels is not the right word. Luxury suites better fits their surroundings. Every dog was in its own room; I would not be surprised if there was a microwave, robes, fresh biscuits available for those dogs. There was not evidence of feces anywhere. The rooms did not have an odor. There were beds, couches, toys, and anything else imaginable for a dog in those rooms. They didn’t bark as we walked by; they didn’t jump up on the windows to get our attention. They appeared to be clean and well kept. They did not look homeless. They looked loved and happy. I’d have no qualms about taking one of those dogs home, and putting them in my car to get there.
There was also a fair mixture of the pit bull and pit bull mix, but they didn’t seem as intimidating as those in the Shelter.
So why the startling contrast? For starters, the County of San Diego runs the Shelter. That probably says it all right there. The strays that are picked up go to the Shelter. There are many drop-off’s at the Shelter. The Humane Society has drop-off’s too, but it appears for different reasons. One of the definitions I read about the Humane Society is “ . . . . Humane Societies have humane officers that investigate abuse and neglect cases; the humane society is usually low kill, and only euthanize animals that really have no chance of being rehabilitated or that are really suffering. They usually keep animals until a home is found, use foster homes, have animals spayed/neutered etc…” That is not to say that the Shelter doesn’t do the same thing, but it was so obvious that love and care was not given at the Shelter while there were many volunteers working with the dogs at the Humane Society.
True, we were there on Tuesday, the day following a holiday, and the shelter was closed the day before. That is still no excuse for the abundance of feces throughout the shelter. Dogs should not have to live in that filth as much as people should not have to live in filth.
My daughter said to me just the other day that when she is ready for another dog – her’s was put down last month at the age of 18! –she would prefer to get a dog from the shelter rather than from a Rescue, because these dogs are looking for love. That may be true, but they didn’t ask for the terrible surroundings they are currently living in. Not too long ago there was an investigation of the Dog Pound in Chula Vista. Maybe there should be one here too.
I explained to Buddy why he did not get the companion he wanted today. I told him I would go back to where we found him – a Golden Retriever Rescue – because he deserves to have a friend that does not carry a lot of baggage. He wagged his tail, smiled, and sighed. He’s content to wait.