My Goodness! Is There a Caste System for Dogs, Too?

by on June 1, 2011 · 3 comments

in The Widder Curry

Shelter Dog, photo by Crystal Rolfe via

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.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

ASBuco June 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

This makes me so sad. No one and no animal should live like that. Not even for a moment. I feel bad when I leave my cats alone all day to find a full litter box and so I clean it before I do anything else.
Poop patrol should be something that has no holiday at a shelter. And should be checked all day long. Especially when the dogs have come from the places they have come from.
An investigation should definitely be made and corrections made right away.
I don’t recall the shelter being so bad way back in the 90’s when I had to give up a dog. But then, that was the other location too. If the map in my head is right.
There is no excuse for treatment like that. They are living creatures whether on 2 feet or 4. And should be treated with respect and care.


barbara June 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I have friends volunteering at the Barking Lot on Raleigh St in El Cajon. There are 2 litters of puppies there now as well as a score of older dogs, many of the pit bull/mix. One litter is pit bull, the other looks like chow/shep maybe. They are staffed by all volunteers and donations. Need newspapers to shred, blankets, toys, what have you. I helped with the puppies yesterday and boy do they love to be touched and held. If you have an hour or so and want to be internally rewarded call them at the Barking Lot on Raleigh. Good luck on your search for a friend for Buddy.


Steve June 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for the informative note! My wife and I volunteer rescuing dogs like crazy, we have fosters and 3 of our own. We rescue from a shelter up north.. “Devore” in San Bernardino. The ghetto of ghettos for dogs, high kill shelter, outdoors… hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. (You can Google for more info). This shelter has refused volunteers… Gaines Shelter on the other hand depends on volunteers for help…it would be wonderful for people to know how much they need help to walk dogs, clean cages and help with adoptions. Get involved, go volunteer!


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