("e" as in: euthanasia)
Many public shelters avoid sharing the list of dogs that are next up for euthanasia for fear that it would be unpopular or cause too much drama or delay. In some shelters, volunteers are specifically instructed not to ask staff about the disappearance of favorite dogs or cats. We've never been big fans of the don't-ask-don't-tell policy, especially when the main motivation for helping shelter animals comes from the heart. As it turns out, the regularly published "e-list" list has been working to move a lot of dogs - pit bulls especially - out of one shelter's kennels and into new lives.
Berkeley Animal Care Services alerts several rescues and key volunteers whenever a dog can't handle the kennels anymore or when they get too full, which has been happening more than usual in recent weeks. We might be dealing with a new wave of foreclosures around here - not sure - but someone's been stuffing dogs into their night drop boxes and it's gotten crowded in this usually not-crowded shelter.
The crowding invokes a ping pong tournament of emails which is pretty interesting to watch, as different personalities take different approaches to helping the dogs at risk. Some scramble to find sanctuaries, others post on facebook or craigslist. I can't say for sure, but some may even send out those infamous all-cap email alerts that scream "URGENT." (Confession: We usually delete mail that comes to us in all caps. Rescue is already too stressful to wade through screaming.) The go-getters get the at-risk dogs to Pit Ed class for obedience brush ups and/or shoot videos and photos that turn into wonderful posts on BACS's upbeat facebook page. The combination of all these approaches generally works and somehow, dogs get moved out rather than disappear.
When a dog - ANY dog - is put to sleep, everyone knows about it. Some grieve, some shrug, some dive in deeper to help the new dogs in need. There's no mutiny or blame-gaming though because everyone gets advance warning and an opportunity to help. This policy makes a lot of sense and it attracts the commitment of some of the community's most motivated helpers, but unfortunately it's not often used in other shelters.
BACS' recent call for help sent us walking through the kennels. We ended up taking one of the saddest dogs there. She may or may not find a home ... We don't know yet because she's been too depressed to show us who she is. But she's out of the shelter and cozied up in the barn now, and we'll do what we can to help her decompress so she can finally be herself. She seems happy to be out, and I'm just so darned glad that the shelter was willing to ask for help for her and others like her.