It’s no secret that Chip and I love dogs. We have Wrigley and have been fostering Duke since February. I’m pretty sure I blog more about dogs than anything else. So it’s probably no surprise that when we noticed a friendly stray on our street, we didn’t hesitate to start feeding him. Chip teased me as I plotted how to take care of this dog (if we didn’t already have Wrigley and Duke, I’m sure we would have found a way to take him in!). He was extremely thin but would approach people when called and encouraged. So my plan was to keep feeding him until he put on some weight (make him more easily adoptable) so I could take him to a shelter where he would hopefully find a home. One of our other neighbors had also been feeding him and giving him water, so I felt like this plan would work.
That is until a couple of days ago when I spoke to our neighbor about this dog and she let me know that she was planning to take him to the vet to have him put down. I was shocked. Yes, this dog was terribly underweight; it was pretty clear he had lost a lot of weight fast since his skin was saggy in different places. Yes, it looked like he had mange, but that’s treatable with the right medicine. His teeth looked in such great condition that I figured he had to be young, he was just down on his luck. I wasn’t going to let this guy go without a fight. So after talking to our neighbor a bit, I asked her for some time to try calling the shelters to see if we could take him somewhere.
Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a hold of any place since the next day was 4th of July and businesses were closed. So yesterday, I came home early to work the rest of the day from home (thanks, Ashley!) and saw the stray wandering around again. I fed him a couple of bowls of dog food, which he scarfed down. After he ate, he laid beside me where I was sitting and rolled over for a belly rub. I couldn’t believe it. I pet him for a little bit and when I stopped, he nudged my hand up, wanting to be pet some more. He had clearly been with people before, yet here he was left to fend for himself. I talked to him a little bit (yes, I’m one of those people that talks to dogs and believes they understand in some way) and let him know that we would try to find him a home and get him to a shelter in the next day or two. I gave him some water and went back inside to get some work done.
After a couple of hours, I noticed our neighbor trying to get the dog into her car. I went over to her house to see if she needed some help since it didn’t seem like he could jump into her SUV when she told me she was taking him to the vet to get put down. He had developed a limp, so she thought he might have been hit by a car and felt terrible seeing him in pain. After talking to her for a bit, we agreed that I would take him in my car to the Humane Society to see if they would take him first. If not, I would see what the vet right by our house would do and hope that they would know of a foster. With that, I got Duke’s old slip on leash he came with, and got it easily on this sweet stray. It did take a bit of effort to get him in my car. He walked up to it fine, but when he realized we were trying to get him inside he panicked a bit. He started to back up and pull away and started to howl. We stopped and gave him some treats to encourage him to try again. We got closer this time but he wouldn’t get in the car. I wasn’t sure if we would be successful and realized that the only thing we might be able to do is walk him down the street to the vet and hope for the best. I didn’t want to give up just yet, so we tried one last time with our neighbor on one side of the car gently pulling the leash to guide him in and me lifting his back paws up to get him into the car. We finally got him in and he quickly settled himself down on the towel we had laid out for him.
With that, I drove over first to the Humane Society. Since he’s so gentle and trusting, I wanted to see if he was by chance microchipped and we could at least call his owner (in which case I would definitely have a few choice words to share!), but unsurprisingly he wasn’t chipped. The Humane Society was already at capacity and since this dog has mange, they didn’t have a space where they could quarantine him. So we had to try another shelter. They gave me a list of other places to call, so we got back into my car (he smelled his towel and walked right in this time) and sat there in the air conditioning while I called other places. At this point, my mom was involved and helping (had to call for reinforcements! :)). Despite between a couple of states away, it meant so much to me that she was searching the internet for other places and sending me their numbers.
I’ve always known that San Antonio has a terrible pet overpopulation and that thousands of cats and dogs get put down each year. In case you don’t understand how much of a problem, chew on this stat: in 2010, 18,000 pets were put down. Yes. 18,000. I love San Antonio, but this city has a serious attitude and responsibility problem. Pets are not disposable, yet so many people abandon their pet if things “aren’t working out” or if they move and won’t find the responsible thing to do with their animals, like find a friend to take them in or even take them to a shelter (case in point, the people that owned our home before us left behind their cats. Lucky for them our neighbors had pity on them and have been taking care of them for years). Our city also needs to become more responsible and enforce spaying and neutering more strictly so we can have less abandoned puppies and kittens left to themselves. Now that I am done ranting, I will continue with this story…
I called just about every shelter and rescue group in San Antonio, Boerne and Fredericksburg with no luck. They were all over capacity or couldn’t take dogs with mange or had a two week wait period or would require him to pass a health test. I sat there in my car while this stray napped in the backseat and realized that I may not be able to save him. I realized that maybe all I could do for him was be his friend and hold him while a vet put him down since that would be something I wouldn’t let him face alone. With that, I lost it and started crying in my car, frustrated that no one could help this dog. Luckily at that point, Chip called me back. I had been trying to call ACS since we got back in my car but hadn’t had any luck and instead had been on hold for a while. But Chip somehow had someone answer right away and they said they would take this stray in. Finally someone agreed to help him!
We made our way over to ACS and the dog followed me in timidly into the receiving building. I signed us in and we sat in the little waiting area. When I sat down and this sweet dog followed suit, putting his head in my lap. I started to pet him and he eventually relaxed and laid down. Once they called me into the back room, we put the dog into a large crate while I spoke to one of the staff members. She checked the dog’s teeth and confirmed that this dog couldn’t be over a year and a half in age. She was just as shocked as we were that someone had left him behind and that he had been living on the streets. She took a bunch of notes on him and his sweet temperament to include in his little information card. She also felt that he looks like he has some German Shepherd in him, so she sent a note shortly after to the German Shepherd Rescue organization. With that, I got ready to leave. I pet this pup one last time and left.
He only has until Sunday morning for someone to adopt him before he gets put down. So we may not have completely saved his life, but we gave him a chance. I’m hopeful that someone will come by this weekend and fall in love with his floppy ears and long, wagging tail and foster or adopt him. He’s a gem, and deserves to be given a second chance. So SA friends, if you’re interested in helping him in some way, please go visit ACS (his reference number is A220578). And thanks to ACS for taking him in and trying to help him find a new life.