His name, for now, is Little Man. He has a funny underbite, a wildly wagging tail, and he represents hope to a whole lotta people. I spotted Little Man during a recent tour of the Hillsborough County Dept of Animal Services in Tampa, FL. They were chosen by the ASPCA as a target city for a project called Mission Orange. This designation is a winning lottery ticket for any lucky shelter because it means they'll be receiving funds and expertise to help them meet the goal of limited euthanasia. Tampa has such an explosive pet overpopulation problem that the good folks that work at the shelter are forced to euthanize up to 100 animals a day, seven days a week, just to keep disease and overcrowding under control. The next day, dozens more animals will pour in the door, requiring them to start all over again by sending the previous week's animals to peace. Just imagine the toll this horrible cycle would take on your soul.
The ASPCA kindly invited us to help Tampa and other Mission Orange cities develop assessment protocol and adoption policies for their adoptable pit bulls and pit mixes. As of now, most aren't making it out the door alive in Tampa. Such an important project deserved an up close look to see for myself what they were dealing with. I've got a pretty thick skin, but I wasn't altogether prepared for the sight of so many perfectly wonderful but end-of-the-line animals. With our accessible spay/neuter resources and adoption programs, we've almost forgotten what this kind of hell looked like just a few years ago in bay area. Even more difficult, were the tears from some of the staff who were emotionally beat up, but still willing to hope for better days.
Which brings me to Little Man. While we toured the loud barking kennels, comparing notes by shouting in each other's ears, I spotted this little imp pressed to the front of his run, ears back, lip puckered out and wagging. He was way too skinny, filthy dirty and on his last day. I got that rush of excitement in my belly that comes from meeting somebody very special, so pointed him out and shouted to the staff "If he tests well, I want to take him home." He did, and we are. He's arriving in Oakland on March 20 and I just can't wait. Did I mention he has heart worm? - Sigh - Of course he does. What kind of a Hillsborough County mascot would he be if he didn't have an added challenge? With any luck, he'll spend the next few weeks getting healthy and strong and ready for adoption, and even more important, his hometown shelter will finally get the help and support that they deserve. Stay tuned for updates on this brave new project and its tail wagging mascot.
Movies of Little Man in Tampa! (You'll need Quicktime to see)
If you're a sucker like me and would like to meet this boy for adoption consideration, or perhaps sponsor some of his vet costs, please let us know. As always, thank you.