Pound Pooch

diary of a shelter worker.



RTO's (return to owner) should be a good thing. I should be pleased that an animal (usually a dog) was located in the shelter and reclaimed. Usually I am. But sometimes, I'm disturbed- something isn't quite right, or I feel like the dog would have been better off with us.

We have a spay/neuter ordinance in this county. All animals are required to be speutered unless they have applied for permission to have them intact. On first impound, we offer to waive some fees and get the animal fixed by our shelter vet at a substantial discount. Many people take us up on this offer. The deal is sweetened by the fact that on an animal's second visit, the impound fees go up, and the speuter is now required- owners have to pay for everything. I am always disappointed when people turn us down for the offer to speuter on first impound- we get many repeat offenders, often within a couple months of the first impound.

This week we got a little poodle impounded- an officer picked him up after he was seen at large for a few days, mating with other intact females. (The owners of the intact females were issued citations for not spaying their dogs.) The dog was in horrid shape- matts and mud all over is body. I am not sure if he has ever seen the inside of a house. I was instructed to tell the owners they could not reclaim the animal without a s/n ticket, or without neutering the dog with us first. I had this conversation first on the phone with the owners, and then they came in, complete with crying pre-teens. I had a hard time feeling sorry for this family- how could they miss their dog so terribly when they hadn't seen it for days, and when the only confinement they had for him was a two foot chain in the back yard? The family waffled about taking the dog with a ticket and paying for neuter, at one point telling me that he was a beautiful dog, and so he should have puppies. The only thing that convinced them to have the dog neutered was that they couldn't reclaim him till Tuesday either way, since there was no officer on hand to issue a s/n citation. He will go home on Tuesday with a grooming agreement and neutered, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing him again.


humane traps

We "rent" out traps to help people catch stray and feral cats that are in there area. People borrow these traps with a deposit and get their money back when they bring back the trap. The traps vary in size and shape, but are designed to humanely catch cats.

When we rent out these traps, we explain to peole that we do NOT want them to catch wildlife. We explain how to best avoid catching wildlife (trapping when it's light out, etc.), and we tell them that if they do catch skunks, possums, raccoons- they need to release these animals. Most people are very understanding about this.

Two days ago, I received two calls that were a little unclear on the concept. One elderly lady wanted to catch a ferret. She believed that the ferret had been living in her apartment since October, though she had only sighted it twice. I explained that I did not think that the trap would actually work for a ferret. She informed me that I just didn't want to help her, just like the exterminators. I suggested that perhaps the exterminators were a good way to go- that, or pest control. She became quite annoyed at me with me: she did NOT want the ferret exterminated. I explained to her that ferrets are illegal where we live, and that if she trapped the ferret and brought it to us, we would be legally bound to "exterminate" it, as well. At this point, the woman was convinced that I was out to get her, and told me that she needed to go wax her car, and she would just move out of her apartment.

Later that day, a man called and told me he wanted to trap some animals. Apparantly he has a cat he needs to catch (fine), and some pigeons (not so fine). I explained to him the usual- we don't trap wildlife. The pigeons, he told me, through a heavy accent, are in his house. It is dirty, like on the pier. I explained that I could not rent a trap out to him if he was going to trap pigeons. I told him that the trap probably wouldn't work for pigeons (or ferrets, but he wasn't interested) and that he needed to leave the birds alone. He told me he'd think about it.

These calls made kitten season seem a little more... sane.