Last week I visited a local shelter, in a less than desirable neighborhood here in LA. I know the shelter business very well, so when I make my comments they are not coming from an emotional place, but rather a place of knowledge. Upon arriving at the shelter I walked through the animal receiving department and found a small hispanic boy of maybe 9-10 years old with his mother dropping off 2 young male (intact) dogs. The one (a chihuahua) started to pee on the door and the boy proceeded to kick the dog to get it to stop. A black man who worked at the shelter took the dog from the boy and with a kind tone said, “It’s ok, we’re gonna take care of him.” This man was kindness exemplified in an environment of chaos. He took the small dog and lifted him into a small cage and then took the info needed from the mom. Next the other dog was crying and barking at the door and would not go through, so the boy using the same strategy proceeded to kick the dog to get him to go through the door. As this was not working he became frustrated, the same kind man came back and, again kindly, said, “He’s just afraid, he knows where he is.” I take my hat off to this guy as I would not have had his patience. He deserves a raise and a medal of honor!
Once inside, I ran into a friend who works there and she told me how hard it is working at this shelter, some days they intake over 30 dogs. She shared a story of a backyard breeder that was there getting FREE vaccines and continuing to breed his dogs. I use the term breeder very loosely, as this is anything but a breeder. These are people using the system and abusing it at the same time.
The intakes at this particular “inner city” shelter are high and the adoptions are low. So I asked where are the big boys? Where is BEST FRIENDS? Where is HSUS? Well, we all know that HSUS does NOT really help your local shelter, although their advertisements would lead you to believe otherwise. In fact, their ads that contain almost all shelter footage is good enough to suck the donations out of you, but the money you give doesn’t trickle back there. They claim it does and when researched some $0.01 perhaps made it back. That from an organization that takes in hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of the small humane societies that struggle and the municipal shelters that are overrun. Then you have BEST FRIENDS who recently opened a shelter (or should I say where given a multimillion dollar facility) here in LA. We see their advertisements and I too get their emails every week soliciting donations, pet insurance, BEST FRIENDS credit cards, t-shirts, dog toys and so much more. Occasionally I get a peppered mail about the “special dog” they saved and of course – soliciting MORE donations.
Well, what’s not happening is what should be happening… they’re not doing what should be done and neither are any of the big boys among them, ASPCA, HSUS, PETA and the list goes on. Now, you won’t hear too many public complaints from the shelters, rescues or most animal rights people. Why? Because they don’t want to upset the apple-cart. They don’t want to “risk” not getting a small pittance from the mighty gods. They don’t want to be called out by their henchmen and risk pissing someone off. Well, perhaps I’m stupid, or bold or in all probability I don’t give a damn – but this is so wrong. Instead of billboard campaigns and clever marketing, how about buying 10 spay neuter vans and driving through the inner city and dispensing $50 bills for everyone who neuters or spays their dogs? How about pulling the dogs that need to be pulled from the shelters and making their adoptions a reality?
Check the number of pit bulls and pit bull mixes that Best Friends pulls from LA City shelters. Of course you’ll read all about the VICTORY dogs. Remember they’ve been praising their do-good on them for years now. How many donations have come on the backs of these few dogs? Ventura and LA City and County shelters take in that many pit bulls in an afternoon and never get a pat on the back, yet Best Friends continues to ride that train for years after. BIG DEAL. The millions of dollars they’ve taken in on this campaign should have motivated them to save a few more. But no, pit bulls die in local shelters and shelters nationwide en mass. Why? Because we don’t address the problem. We tout what great pets pits are and overlook the obvious, they need structure and training (in order to be the great pets they can be). Sure there are a few that are good from the go, but why not make all of them good?
There are a few trainers out there, whom I consider my friends, and they train pits and all power breeds and make them great pets – and they do an AWESOME job. There are only a few though and these guys struggle. They don’t get a handout from Best Friends or HSUS. Yes, HSUS has hired a trainer and is making a run with it. GREAT! But what about others? What about Best Friends doing the same and offering training programs, real training programs at LA City shelters and rehabilitating the dogs that need it most?
No, this post is not just about pit bulls, but they are the primary dogs suffering in our shelters. And because of their shear numbers many others are in danger. They need our help. Recently a good friend decided to start a program to take pits out of the shelter and rehab them before placing them into homes. A BRILLIANT IDEA! I support her program 100%. But will people pay for 2 months of training? Probably not. Why? This is as important to the future of the dog as surgery would be to fix a medical problem. Yet, we overlook training. We focus on adoption billboards and clever marketing. People get dogs out of the shelter and have no idea what they just got. “All he needs is love,” is what you get told by the well meaning volunteer at the shelter. Well, that ain’t so. Any trainer worth their weight will tell you. I’m not mentioning names here cause I know this post will cause a hell of a stir, but you know who you are. You are the real trainers. You’re the ones who go where I go and see the dogs I see. And I do know what they need and so do you. They desperately need our help -and if they don’t get it, they get a needle and DIE!
The hundreds of millions of dollars that is pissed away on the big names could solve a lot of problems locally. There are orgs that have S/N vans and are helping, but it ain’t the names you see in your email in box. I can promise you that!
But I digress, there is so much needed in our shelters. We need to pull together and help, but we need to be realistic. Unless we get a grasp on progressive spay / neuter available and required on dogs that clog the system to death and to their own death, we’re not gonna get anywhere. Should it be mandated, YES! Why, because we mandate speed limits, murder, theft and so much more. Should the dogs be impounded and killed if their owners don’t spay/neuter them NO! It is my heartfelt contention that a person’s dog is their dog. If you don’t spay and neuter them, we’ll do it for you.
In my concept the dog is taken to be fixed and then RETURNED to the owner with a bill. If they have no money (which seems to be the excuse for many) then either we can give a voucher or you can make payments of $10 per month for 10 months. If you can’t afford that, you probably shouldn’t have a dog. This is not to be sarcastic, but everyone’s got $10. If you don’t then how are you feeding the dog. I remember a person posting on my page how she paid for the spaying of a lady’s dog who just had a litter of puppies. I thought, “how nice.” Then she proceeded to tell me that the lady had 9 dogs. That is insane. She has no money, but has 9 dogs and no money to fix them. Be realistic here, that means these 9 will have litters and eventually will enter the system and cause the death of countless other dogs. When will be be sane enough to speak our minds and protect these innocent animals? When will we call a spade a spade and identify the problem and put an end to it? Are we so politically correct that we lose the ability to help a creature that needs us because we don’t want to offend someone? Come on!
Animals are a responsibility and must be cared for. That involves their health, their training and more. We, as a caring society, can choose to help, but we aren’t mandated to do so, YET! If we want to solve this problem we need to be brutally honest. Perhaps not everyone should have a dog. Perhaps people who abuse children should not have children. Well, not training or caring for a dog or allowing dogs to have countless (or even one) unwanted / un-planned litter is similar to child abuse on a human. But we remain afraid to say something.
So, next time you make your donations to the big organizations, ask yourself “How are they helping in my neighborhood?” Don’t ask the people who drank the koolaid, ask the people who are busting their asses in the shelters and rescues. Ask the people who are so overworked and underpaid if any of the $50-$150 MILLION ever trickles down? Ask if they see HSUS or BEST FRIENDS or PETA spay neuter vans or food banks for pets? If they provide re-homing of pets that are at risk in our shelters? Perhaps these options don’t make for good publicity because they’d have to go to the inner city and we know the media doesn’t really care what poor people people do.
YES, I am angry because this is all costing innocent animals their lives. All the while the big boys stand back and continue their lies. Best Friends pulls dogs from LA City shelters, but not the ones at immanent risk of death, but rather those at immanent risk of adoption.
I welcome your comments, but remember, stay on topic. The goal is to save more animals and help those at the greatest risk. If you’re pissed off like me, share this and put your name to it.
Founder/ BOUND ANGELS