The highlights of his day are measured in minutes now that he's in confinement: Belly rubs, short walks, de-stuffing a toy or two, dinner time and a bone to chew on give some relief. But the word of the week is definitely: Boooring.
Hang in there, Little Man. Good things are waiting for you once you kick those worms.
Speaking of keeping confined dogs happy, we were thrilled to get good news from Tampa's Hillsborough County Animal Services, where a key challenge has been a depressing building crowded full of custody dogs. The dogs are held for various owner-created infractions; some are in lock down for months on end while legal proceedings drag on. Most go INSANE and spin the day away to channel excess energy. It's an awful way to live - or - not live.
But motivated shelter workers are making changes thanks to a meeting with Corinne Dowling during their April visit to Pit Ed Camp. Corinne's Give a Dog a Bone program provides a model for keeping forgotten custody dogs from going stir crazy. She's had a lot of practice: In San Franciso, the BSL mandatory neutering law that targets pit bulls keeps SFACC's basement kennels full. Nice dogs, most of them, but uh, caught in the act of being intact. Corinne and her volunteers use a truckload of inventive techniques to keep these unlucky canines from stressing out during their hold. She's a force to be reckoned with and works tirelessly to give them a reason to wag.
(Pssst. Speaking of San Francisco's BSL, did we ever mention how many dogs are getting fixed voluntarily under the Pit Fix Program in the east bay? Or those nifty fix-it tickets in Los Angeles? Ahh...a subject for another day...)
So. Tampa is now designing ways to give their own custody dogs some kindness. This is BIG news for this overworked shelter. Helping the dogs is far from easy: Budget cuts, long work days and hundreds and hundreds of shelter animals to care for make the work exceedingly difficult, not to mention depressing. Some of the custody dogs are unsafe and most are just plain unlucky. Many will end up euthanized. That doesn't stop these guys from acting on their compassion.
They've been begging up toys, treats and dog beds to provide some comfort. One person's job is to touch the deprived dogs. Imagine how much they miss that? An extra special addition - and I'm SOOO proud of these guys for this - custody dogs are getting a play yard so they can get out of their runs to stretch their legs and feel the grass.
You want to meet someone with REAL balls? ....
Meet Corinne Dowling or the crew tackling this heart breaking work in Hillsborough County Animal Services. Even better, send them a donation to help the dogs in their care.
Hillsborough County Animal Services
Attn: Kelly Bigsby
440 N. Falkenburg Road
Tampa, Florida 33619
Corinne Dowling - Give a Dog a Bone
1200 15th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(the Give a Dog a Bone BLOG is worth bookmarking!)