Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Getting Bear from a shelter-ADOPTED
A rescue volunteer spotted this young male on PetHarbor, a website where shelters post pictures of the dogs they have taken in. She sent the picture to Great Pyrenees rescue and they sent it to me since he was an Akbash. I went to visit him at the overcrowded California shelter where he was....click the "read more" link below to read what happened next!
I arrived at the shelter to see this big fellow on a Saturday, two days after he came in. I already had foster for him! I had a call from a man named George a few weeks earlier. He had five working dogs and had offered to foster a dog right from a shelter and evaluate the dog so I could determine how to place the dog.
When a dog is in a shelter with an unknown history, the foster home provides crucial information as one tries to figure out proper placement for future adoption. People that have livestock are sometimes reluctant to take a dog not knowing how the dog will react to their livestock. Often companion, and many foster homes, have other dogs and children present and people are reluctant to take in an unknown dog. George had offered to take a dog straight from a shelter and evaluate him or her.
The shelter was a shock to me and very unpleasant. This dog was being held on a "stray hold" for six days to give a possible owner time to come claim him. He was picked up wandering. There were many separate buildings with kennel upon kennel of dogs, often two or three to a kennel run. There were litters of puppies, some alone, some with mothers. As I wandered around the maze of buildings I came upon an area that was so disturbing. There was a cage of tiny dead kittens still with their umbilical cords on. As I tried to figure out what I was seeing I noticed a cage underneath with a raccoon cowering in the back of the cage. Above him was yet another cage of older dead kittens. I turned around so as not to look anymore only to see two kennel runs with big signs saying "bite hold area law enforcement only". There was a big black and white dog laying there and it appeared to be dead. There was a tourniquet and a bit of blood on the back leg. However when I looked closer I could see the dog was still breathing slowly! Later when I asked about this I was told "some of them take awhile to die". There was another dog next to that one that appeared to be in a catatonic state...shaking and staring straight ahead. Obviously having witnessed what happened in the cage next to his.
I decided to take the big white dog outside. I went inside his small kennel run and began to handle him and he seemed to respond a bit, I even saw a tail wag. I put a harness and leash on him and another leash on his collar. Though he was very underweight, I wanted to make sure I had a good hold on him. He looked very frightened and once outside his run the deafening sound of all the row upon row of barking dogs caused him to put the brakes on. He began to drool with nervousness and refused to move. I started to talk to him and try to coax him forward. He tried to sniff the nose of a dog in the run next to his but the dog reacted aggressively and he became even more frightened. It became obvious he had never been in a place such as this!
I wondered how I would get him outside when a shelter employee came into the building with someone to look at the dogs. I asked him if he could please hold the door open for a second so the dog could see the outside sunlight and hopefully head to the door. The man refused and after a brief conversation reluctantly agreed to be helpful. The dog headed for the outside and once out there found a tiny patch of grass and urinated for quite some time.
This made me think about how I had been seeing e-mails lately about Pyrenees and Akbash dogs coming out of shelters with serious urinary tract and bladder infections. This because no one was walking them and they will not go potty in a tiny space! I found out later that my saturday visit was the only time this dog ever left his kennel run during his six day stray hold. The dogs are not walked or handled in any way during the stray hold at this shelter.
Standing out in the yard with the dog I decided I could not take him back inside so I quickly called George and asked if he could take the dog immediately...he said yes. However, the shelter has a firm policy that dogs must stay for the six days. I had no choice but to take him back into the building or at least try to! He had other ideas and of course would not take one step inside the building!!! I wandered around trying to find someone to help me get him back in his run. I found an employee to help, he told me the dog was not eating, I was not surprised to hear that. He had to pull from the front and I had to push from the back and that is how we got the big dog back down the hallway of barking dogs and back into his kennel run.
I went into his run for a few minutes to talk to him as he was quite depressed. He stood solemnly and I told him I would be back for him and just to hang on a few more days. When I first started doing rescue work a year ago the previous Akbash rescue coordinator forwarded a number of e-mails to me. One of them was from a shelter director in Utah. She was expressing her need to get the Livestock Guardian dogs such as Akbash dogs out of the shelter right away and into foster if at all possible. She said "they just do not do well here and often become sick and die quickly".
As I told the big dog to hang in there and promised to be back for him, he stood perfectly still and quiet and then put a paw on my lap! I was so touched at this gesture I took a picture, here he is having given me a paw!