Sunday, July 08, 2007

HELP. I'm being held captive. Send Kongs!

Little Man is starting Week Two of his heartworm treatment. Six weeks to go. That means, no jumping, no cavorting, no prancing, no playing or otherwise expressing the 'Joy of being Little Man.'

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!)



Anonymous said...

Hang tough Little Man!!! the world will definetly be yours for the taking! Also,in a day and age where shelters are so overcrowded with unwanted,abused Pittie mixes or confiscated dogs, it is GREAT to hear about a program that allows these dogs to have some relief. Bravo to the Hillsborough shelter for trying to mske life more pleasurable and meaningful for these dogs. Ditto, to the Give a Dog a Bone program in S.F.

Anonymous said...

"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"

hmmm... isn't that exactly what opponents of AB1634 pointed out what happens when MANDATORY s/n like the kind you support gets passed... more owners give up their dogs?

Donna said...

Hello anonymous.

The dogs in SFACC's basement are all custody hold cases, confiscated for various reasons - including and especially, the 'crime' of being an intact pit bull. They're held in the shelter until their owner arranges a spay/neuter appointment either through $FSPCA or the free s/n van that comes up from Peninsula Humane Society. Dogs that are rejected by their owners can go up for adoption or be released to rescue groups.

The authors of AB1634 have indicated that, if the bill became law, agencies would use fix-it tickets.

There is a precedent for this style of enforcement: Animal control officers in Los Angeles County are reporting good results from door-to-door canvassing efforts that involve fix-it tickets and waiting s/n vans.

The door-to-door approach also gives officers a chance to offer educational materials and humane care information.

Anonymous said...

My dog had to be confined while recovering from heartworm after she was rescued. It was so hard because she got to watch our other dog be free and run around while she had to lay about and not get excited. Poor Little Man! I hope he finds a great home. I would scoop him up myself but my landlords are not pit friendly. I can't help looking at his kiss photo...he has the cutest smoochie face I've ever seen!

Anonymous said...

Also I heard you are taking in Buddha from Lake County Shelter. I was trying to find a rescue for her and am glad the old gal is safe.