(Picture left: "Coco" -- lovely and sweet Collie mix, distraught -- and condemned, shortly after owner died. But, now preparing for swim season and a Dog Fancy cover shot!)
It's was a long journey from ruthlessly being tied to a tree and adandoned in the Bronx, just a few weeks back on a freezing February day in New York City.
While we did get a few other adoption inquiries on Kayla, none were as prepared and enthusiastic for Kayla as the photographer from Oregon, her husband and their other dog.
Already the two dogs played together and Kayla seems none the worst for all she has had to experience over these past few weeks -- including a 6-hour trip in the cargo section of a jet plane. She is a very happy girl now and we trust will be for many years to come.
Meanwhile, the everyday challenges of animal rescue and adoption continue....
Just a few days ago, I received a call from Sabrina in the Brooklyn Animal Control center about a 7-year-old, "Chow mix" who had just been brought in the by the police after her owner died in a Brooklyn apartment.
The dog named "Coco" was depressed and distraught when first arriving at the city pound.
Nevertheless, due to the severe crowding issues in the shelter, Coco was immediately rushed for so-called, "Behavior Testing."
Of course a depressed, disoriented, confused and distraught dog is not going to "orient" well to a stranger suddenly pinching, playing tag and staring at her, while also poking a plastic hand in the dog's food bowl!
Coco wasn't even interested in eating at the time.
Coco basically failed her "Behavior Evaluation" not because of showing any actual aggressiveness, but simply not "orienting" to all the nonsense going on around her.
When Sabrina first called me about Coco, I suggested the dog be given a couple of more days to better settle in and be better able to accurately access her temperament and behavior. Since Coco's owner was dead, there was no way of getting information from him/her about Coco's history and personality.
Sabrina agreed and promised to spend some time with Coco and call me the following day with updated information.
Well, the "updated information" the following day was that Coco was already on the Euthanasia (kill) list, this despite only being a few days in the shelter!
"Damn, this is messed up!" Sabrina proclaimed though she should be well used to such occurrences after working in the NYC animal pound for some years now.
"Patty, this dog is not aggressive or mean. She's a GOOD dog! I walked her and petted her. She even wagged her tail for me today! Anyway you can take her immediately?"
"Pull her from the euthanasia list," I requested from Sabrina. "Since you say she is kind of overweight, she is probably spayed already. Have one of the vets look for a spay scar and as soon as that can be determined, we will take Coco."
After determining that Coco was indeed already spayed, she was sent yesterday to the boarding facility in Manhattan where we keep some of our dogs until able to find suitable foster or adoptive home.
I met and walked Coco yesterday for the first time.
She is in fact, a very lovely and gentle dog. It's beyond me how this sweet creature could flunk a "Behavior Test" -- except for the fact the evaluation was conducted way too prematurely for most dogs to do well on.
Here was a dog who suddenly lost her owner to a tragedy, was picked up by cops and hauled to the animal pound.
How would any animal do on a "behavior" assessment under circumstances like those?
For that matter, what human would do well on a personality or IQ test immediately after suffering any kind of tragedy or loss?
I am amazed at the utter lack of compassion, empathy and even understanding of dogs and cats at too many of our so-called "animal shelters."
While one can sympathize with the terrible pressures on animal control facilities to quickly "move" animals, one way or the other, due to intense dumping and crowding issues, there is NO EXCUSE for attaching false "behavior" labels to dogs and cats simply because one needs to despatch them quickly -- one way or the other.
If the shelter has to kill animals due to crowding issues then THAT (i.e. "space") is the reason that should be given for the so-called, "euthanasia" rather than some other excuse (such as "behavior" or "illness") that somehow pacify's and makes the public "feel better" about all the killing, but has, in fact, nothing to do with the actual truth.
Were it not for the fact Coco was (I believe wrongly) identified as a "Chow" and Collie mix (I believe she is really a Collie/Samoyed mix) and that Sabrina thus called me on the dog, Coco would be dead right now.
There are a number of things wrong in that picture. Unfortunately, they continue year after year with little, if any at all, correction. There is simply no accountability for the labels attached to animals killed in shelters.
The city and public fails to question the labels. Until that happens there is no reason to expect that things will ever change.
Meanwhile, Coco is simply a very lovely dog who appears that she was somewhat neglected over the months that her former owner might have become elderly or infirm. Her long nails were practically growing into her feet when she arrived at the pound, her coat is a little matted and disheveled and Coco is a good ten to twenty pound overweight. -- All of which indicate a dog who was barely walked.
Coco was slow on her walk yesterday and I did not want to suddenly overtax her. We walked only a few blocks. She walked well, but seemed nervous around other dogs. Well, all of this is so new and strange to her.
The good news is, Coco can handle stairs okay, though I wouldn't place her with someone in a 5th floor walkup apartment.
I wouldn't want the chunky, but infinitely sweet 7-year-old pooch to suddenly die of a heart attack!
Coco has to prepare for her "Dog Fancy" cover -- and swimsuit season. -- PCA