1 August, 2014 Charlena Edge 0 Comment

Precious girl…tail wagging

“Because her owner didn’t want her.”

That’s what I was told when I called to check on her. She was killed because her owner didn’t want her. Wait, I thought. She wasn’t just some dog off the street. Well she sort of was, but we had history, a little over two hours of it. And now she’s dead because some stupid person decided that because she got out of wherever or whatever she had been living in, they no longer wanted her. Those bastards!

Here’s our story.

The Rescue

Two Wednesdays ago on my way to work. I left a bit early because my dog woke me up earlier than usual to go out. It was still dark out as I made my way down a long, winding road. Suddenly, I saw two animal figures in front of me walking in the middle of the lane like it was normal. As I got closer, I saw that it was two dogs, and I simultaneously screamed and pulled over.

I fumbled for the emergency flashers and jumped out and pulled open the back door. “Come here puppies, come here” I said excitedly while patting my legs. They both came over, checked me out then started to walk away. “No!!! Come here…come here…” I said in a high pitched voice. They both returned. I couldn’t coax them into the side door and other cars were coming now…slowing down and looking before moving on.

I ran and opened the back of my truck but every time I attempted to lift the larger of the two it would lay down and wouldn’t budge. Then they would get curious and stand on their hind legs to check out the back of the truck. Then the whole lift attempt, lay down, check the truck process would start again.

Another car stopped and sat there for a few minutes watching what they must have thought was a crazy lady in a dress trying to wrangle her unruly dogs. As I’m looking up at the headlights with an “I’m sorry” expression, I hear SCREEEEEEEEEEECCCCCCCCCHHHHHH as another car not expecting the early morning traffic jam slammed on their breaks. I held out my hand and thought “I’m dead” as I watched it stop just in time to avoid hitting the car that was sitting behind and slightly to the left of me.

At that point, both cars went around and I remembered that I had a sandwich for lunch. I ran to the passenger side door, unzipped my lunch bag, grabbed the plastic wrapped sandwich, tore it open, and threw it into the back of my truck.

The smaller one allowed me to lift it first, followed by the larger. When I hoisted them both up, I slammed the door and jumped back in. I pulled into the first driveway I came to in order to turn around and head back home. I was in a tizzy when I got there. My husband came to the door and wondered what was going on. I told him about the two puppies in the road. “Where are they now?” he asked. “In the truck!” I said. Both of my kids heard the commotion and got up to see what was going on.

“I found two puppies in the road!” I yelled as I ran to my computer to look up the number for animal control. They were closed, so I called the alternate number which was for the Sheriff’s department. I was told that they would call the animal control officer who was on duty and someone would come to pick up the puppies.

My kids and I (husband was in a towel) went out to check out the two “puppies”. I opened the back of the truck and two dogs hesitated half a second before jumping out. We discovered a male, gray and white and a small tan/red female. Both were pit bulls. The male didn’t look as small in the light and my son said “Those aren’t puppies!”

It was obvious that they were being bred. The female, though small, looked as though she already had a litter of puppies. She had hanging teets (I don’t know what dog breasts are called). The male continuously harassed and tried to mount her as soon as they were out of the truck.

They both drank lots of water and ignored the food I put out. They boy even ignored the Beggin’ Strips (bacon flavored dog treats) but the girl ate them. I gave both a dusting of diatomaceous earth because the girls’ legs were itching. They barked at my dogs who were barking at them through the window, and enjoyed the attention my son, daughter, and I showered on them.

When my husband came out to leave for work, they greeted him like they knew him for years. After he left, we continued to talk to them, pet them, and watch them walk around the yard and yes…go to the bathroom.

They were good dogs, and that little girl would just come and stand by us, look up as if to say “I like you, pet me” and enjoy a good scratch on the head. After a while, the boy stopped trying to mount the girl and I left the truck doors open so they were in and out and even took a nap.

While they were napping I brought my laptop out and looked for pit bull rescues. I called a few but I didn’t get an answer. I called animal control at 8am and the rude woman who answered the phone said “We just opened!” I told her that the Sheriff said he put in a call for the officer on duty and she told me they haven’t caught up to overnight calls. I asked if she wanted me to bring them in and she said “Bring them where?! We don’t have facilities, but you can take them to the Waldorf Humane Society and put them in the cages they have out front”(they didn’t open until 11). I told her “no, I don’t want them to be scared, I’ll wait”.

While we were waiting I was trying to work out how to add the two Pits to my crew. We already have a silver lab, a mixed breed, and two cats. They boy Pit kept doing this snapping thing. It wasn’t aggressive, he just would look up and open and close his mouth really fast. I imagined him getting a hold of Diego, my 12 year old Himalayan kitty who not too long ago got a haircut that makes him look like a white squirrel. The scenarios I came up with weren’t too good, but I really wanted to keep the docile, precious girl.

When the animal control officer got there, I tried to give him background but he all but ignored me. I asked what would happened to them and he said the owner would have time to come claim them, then he didn’t know. When he took them away, I sobbed. Not shed a few tears – I sobbed. I felt SO bad for them and I really felt bad that we weren’t in a position to keep them. Plus, if they were mine I would want the opportunity to get them back, though I didn’t think the owner deserved to. They didn’t look or act like they had been abused, but I could tell there was some neglect. Both were a little thin, the girl had a few ticks on her, and the boy had some missing hair and scarring from his rough collar. Also, the girl seemed way too young to have been bred.

After I got myself together, I went to work. From work, I emailed and called five so-called Pit Bull Rescues and not one called me back. The next day, their pictures were posted on the Tri-County Animal Shelter’s website so the owner would have the opportunity to pick them up. I read that the shelter partners with pit bull rescue organizations so I was hoping when (I was convinced the owner didn’t give a damn) they weren’t claimed, they would be given over to a rescue organization who would find them a family.

The Phone Call

I waited two weeks to the day to call. Between my friend and me, we checked the shelter website every day. Both pictures were still there, though they moved to the top as other pitiful pups were added. There was a picture of a hamster in with the dogs. I have no idea why.

The boy was NOT happy in his pic. He was on a leash, but laying down. The girl was standing there and you could see the blur of her wagging tail in her photo. She was a joyful little thing and was probably glad the boy was no longer able to mount her constantly. I’m sure she was enjoying the attention from the shelter staff.

When I saw first the boy, then the girl pictures disappear, I checked the adoption page. They weren’t posted. I wanted to call. Then I didn’t. Then I did. I was afraid, but surely these two good souls made it to the rescue. Finally my good friend/co-worker said she would call. I had the nervous “pees” so I went to the ladies room. When I returned, she was on the phone and her voice sounded pleasant so I thought “Yay!”

Then she said “they won’t tell me anything, she said to put you on the phone so you can talk to a supervisor”. “Okaayyyy” I said, my heart was pounding. The supervisor came on the line and asked for the intake numbers. I gave her the first, “the boy is 117255”. “He was transferred to a rescue group”, the supervisor said. “Do you know which one?” I asked. “No”, she responded. “Ok, the girl is 117244”. The supervisor said “that one was brought to the counter from St. Mary’s County”, I started to protest when she said “oh wait a minute, she was euthanized”. My heart sank to my feet….

“Do you know why?” I asked, my voice trembling and my hands shaking. “Her owner didn’t’ want her”. I thanked her for the information and hung up. I could barely tell my friend what happened and we had to go sit in a vacant office while we both cried.

I cried for an hour then on and off all day. At one point, my Deputy Director said hello and asked how I was. I told him the whole story as more tears emerged. He in addition to several others said “you can’t save them all”, “at least the boy made it”. I understand that, but that girl was something special. “Maybe she was sick”, I heard several times throughout the day. I said “It would have been nice to know that – at least I would understand.” But to die because someone doesn’t want you…there is nothing worse.

My heartbreak

I feel like I saved her from possible death on the street and handed her over to certain death at the hands of people who serve the “citizens of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties”. Why wasn’t she turned over to the rescue group? Why wasn’t she given more time? She never got the chance to be adopted. From the moment she was conceived, the little thing never had a chance.

She was so happy for those two hours with us. She loved being talked to and petted. She had such a cute gaze, it could melt the meanest heart. I can’t stop crying as I imagine her, believing she was going for a walk, being led down some long, dark hallway, tail wagging, as she got closer to the chemicals that would close those precious eyes forever. More than likely, she knew. Animals, like kids, know and understand more than we think they do. She knew and allowed one last human to let her down one last time.

I have donated money for years to the ASPCA and other animal groups. To think that my money could have contributed to the purchase of the drugs that killed that poor puppy.

My outrage

I spent most of yesterday researching animal shelter facts. I am pissed off at myself for being so naïve. I knew animals were euthanized in shelters, but in my blissful ignorance I thought they were at least given a chance to find a home.

The ASPCA (aspca.org) website says that 2.7 milllion animals are euthanized each year. 1.2 million of those animals are dogs, 1.4 million are cats, and I guess the other 100,000 leaves guinea pigs, turtles, lizards, and nowadays probably backyard chickens.

The Humane Society (humanesociety.org) gives the same 2.7 million figure and says that these are healthy, adoptable pets. That figure works out to be one pet every 11 seconds. Another site said this equates to 60% of dogs and 70% of cats who enter shelters never make it out of them alive. Many of these animals are purebred.

Worse than the figures are the methods that are still used in 2014! According to PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, some methods that are still used are injections into the hearts of conscious animals, inhalants, decompression, drowning, electrocution, and shooting. These methods are unacceptable because they rarely provide an instant death and cause suffering before death occurs.

PETA does go on to say “The Humane Society of the United States concur that an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital administered by a trained professional is the kindest, most compassionate method of euthanizing animals” “that are surplus and unwanted”.

I don’t know which method was used to kill my girl. In my outrage, I got the number for the Charles County Commissioners office, but then I found the Charles County Animal Regulations which has been in effect since September 1991. These regulations give the Tri-County Animal Shelter the authority to “humanely euthanize unclaimed or surrendered animals”.

According to dogdaysofcharlottte.org:

-There are shelters in NC and surrounding states that still use the gas chamber as a form of euthanasia. The horrific gas execution can last up to 40 minutes and sometimes needs to be repeated.

-Many dogs are only at the shelter for 24-48 hours before they are euthanized.

-Owner surrenders get very little time in the shelter to be rescued.

– The majority of animals are euthanized due to lack of space, being too skinny, or having a shy character.

I still don’t understand why one Pit made it to the rescue and the other didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I am SO happy that the boy was given a second chance, but I feel so guilty for letting those poor pits go to the wrong organization. I should have had enough sense to find a no kill shelter. Like I said though some of the rescue groups didn’t answer the phone or return email…what is there to be done?

License breeders? Impose fines and jail time for people caught running puppy mills? We can start by ensuring our own pets are spayed and neutered, but I think animal shelters, especially those run by the states and counties need to be more transparent in their operations. If people knew that their pet had less chance of being adopted and a much greater chance of being killed, they would reconsider giving up their pet. Additionally, shelters should consider offering lower costs spay/neutering and veterinary services to those who cannot afford them. Maybe then, more people could keep their pets.

My Hope

I remember a woman I worked with once telling me that animals don’t have souls. She obviously had never experienced the personality of a pet or felt the compassion they provide when their human is hurting. When my little brother died, all four of my pets kept a constant watch over me. They were silent and calm, not at all like their usual selves. They were patient when I didn’t have the energy to take them out or feed them, and were at my side when I cried.

The soul is life. Something with no soul doesn’t require euthanasia. My hope is to at least bring awareness to this problem. To make people understand what happens when they get the bright idea to breed pit bulls or other animal then can’t sell the offspring. To make people aware of what happens to that cute, rambunctious yellow lab when your two bedroom apartment becomes too small or it chews that 5th pair of shoes. Even worse – to know what happens to the dog that went from the bed, to the backyard – the one you forgot to feed and brush, the one who shivered the 30 degree night away. The one (or two) who took the opportunity of a gate left ajar and ran away.

More importantly, if there continues to be customers for puppy mills, then those mills can produce more animals that will just end up on death row.

I hope that more people will consider adopting a pet from a shelter, any shelter, and saving a life. My sisters’ dog Kobe is from a shelter and from day one, he seemed to know he was saved.

Today, at this moment, what I hope more than anything is that precious little pit girl knows she was loved and wanted.

To my Pit Girl

Your life meant something and your death was not in vain. I am so sorry for making the wrong choice for you. I will never forget you. I hope you felt happy and loved for at least a little while.

More than anything, I hope heaven is real. I hope my little brother finds you there and will forever walk you through the greenest of grasses.

Precious soul, this candle burns for you

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About Me

Charlena Edge

Charlena Edge

Hi, welcome to my humble abode! I’m Charlena, wife, mother of two, pet mommy, full-time worker, sporadic crafter, former floral designer, trial and error gardener, future chicken owner, and wanna be farmer. I have a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Herbalism. In between my disjointed, seemingly unrelated posts, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned. Thanks for stopping by!

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