(Picture left: Daisy....a desperate owner's pleas)
Many people, not wanting to pay an "owner surrender fee" or, in some cases, not wanting to answer questions, turn over their pets as "strays."
Unfortunately, when an animal is designated as a "stray," it means there is NO information regarding the dog or cat's prior living situation, background or behavior.
Many shelters, trying to get around this dilemma, have developed so-called, "Temperament Evaluations," but as noted numerous times, the tests come with their own sets of problems, primary among them is the difficulty of accurately assessing animals in a high stress, unfamiliar and unnatural environment.
But, sometimes we get lucky and are actually able to track down an animal's previous circumstance.
Such is the case with "Daisy," a pretty, 4-year-old Collie/Shepherd/Chow mix who was dropped off at the Staten Island animal control shelter some days ago by a woman claiming to have "no time for" the dog.
Upon further questioning, it was learned the woman had only had Daisy one day after "adopting" the dog from an older woman who could no longer keep Daisy.
One of the shelter staffers was able to later get in contact with Daisy's original owner.
The senior citizen told "Joanne" that she had Daisy since the dog was an adolescent. But, passage of time had taken a toll on the woman's health. Additionally, Daisy was stressed and difficult any time the woman's small grandchildren came to visit.
Many people don't seem to realize that for animals who live with senior citizens, the occasional visits of small children can be very disorienting and stressful. There is huge difference between the usually slow movements and general quietness of elderly people and the fast and noisy antics of young children.
Some dogs mistakenly perceive the children as a sort of "threat" to protect their vulnerable owners from.
Such should not be a terribly difficult problem to solve with some understanding, patience and in some cases, expert help from a trainer.
But, usually senior citizens don't have the knowledge, energy or finances for such.
Joanne tried to reassure the elderly woman that the shelter could try to seek rescue for Daisy, but the woman, apparently disillusioned that the person she gave Daisy to callously dumped the dog at the pound after only one day, became skeptical.
"I don't want Daisy passed from home to home or abandoned on the streets! It's better she be put to sleep than tossed around!"
But, Joanne persisted in trying to get more information from Daisy's former owner, who at this point, was extremely distraught and crying on the phone to Joanne.
Joanne was assured that Daisy had never bitten anyone, despite the dog's somewhat nervous behavior with the vets at the shelter.
I learned all this the other day after calling the shelter to pull Daisy from the Euthanasia list.
Daisy has since been sent to Manhattan where I am currently boarding her.
Knowing her circumstance and background as we do now, it is not surprising that Daisy would initially have some "adjustment" issues, unless going to a very quiet home with a senior citizen (what the dog is accustomed to).
But, its unlikely we would seek such placement for a comparatively young, healthy dog who would need a moderate amount of exercise.
I am going to need someone special who can understand and be patient with the dog's now dramatic adjustments from a quiet home with a senior citizen to the stresses of a shelter, going into rescue and boarding and eventually going to a new home and entirely different set of circumstances.
Do such people exist?
Sure. But, they are very hard to find -- especially these days, in what is now a very economically challenged climate.
Imagine the total despair and seeming hopelessness of an elderly woman pleading for her beloved dog to be "euthanized" rather than to be put through the rigors of repeated adoptions and rejections.
Was the woman wrong?
The real tragedy is I cannot answer that question with any certainty or confidence.
I just feel we have to try for Daisy. -- PCA