No one denies that it's hard going to animal control. It can be a happy place when adoptions happen, but death happens every day.
For anyone in rescue the hardest sight to see is an owner turning in a perfectly good animal. By law animal control facilities are required to hold stray animals for 3 days. Many hold for longer, but the minimum is three days. So unless it is severely sick or injured to the point of pain and suffering, any stray animal will need to be housed for 3 days. Owner surrenders have no such time. An owner surrender dog can be euthanized within 5 minutes of being signed over if the shelter is full. And most animal control facilities are full all the time.
We were priviledged to have spent a couple of hours at Cobb County Animal Control yesterday. It is a very rescue-friendly, clean, well-staffed and professionally run shelter. The officers we met were friendly and polite and very obviously care about their job and their role in the community.
We were at Cobb to pull Chopper and Sally - two owner surrender dogs that everyone at the shelter were pulling for. Both are heartworm positive, not fixed, and Chopper is blind. It's not normally a combination that would buy a dog time, but Cobb went above and beyond and reached out and got sponsors for the dogs and we were able to get a commitment from a sanctuary for Chopper, so we could now take them. A few moments after we arrived we were told that an officer was coming in with eight owner-surrender beagles. They were surrendered in order to avoid cruelty charges. We said we'd hang out and see them, but that we really didn't have room.
We went and saw them being pulled off the truck and holy smackaroo they were pretty danged adorable! They are all 13" and smaller; the owner apparently bred "pocket" beagles. We knew we could get most if not all adopted as long as they didn't have behavioral issues or long-term medical challenges. We just had no foster homes that we were aware of.
We went into the intake room to get a good look at them all and lend a hand while they were being processed. Their nails were all horribly long. One dog had a dewclaw nail that was embedded into her pad - almost 1/2" in. They were all covered in fleas and several had pretty bad flea dermatitis. Apparently they were living inside a house - no outdoor time. They were being fed and sheltered but that was about it. I knew we had to try and find room for as many as we could. I got in touch with our Foster Coordinator and our Intake Coordinator and let them do their job.
Turns out we have an enthusiastic new foster home to be and a foster home that will be having an adoption this weekend and will therefore be ready for the next dog. The boy with the worst dermatitis was going to be pulled regardless - he would have zero chance of getting adopted even if he was given time. So we picked him and the other male and the female that had the declaw nail embedded. We left the shelter with a dolly stacked with crates and Chopper, and I walked Sally out.
First stop - BATHS! Thanks to Park Pet Supply and their fantastic do it yourself wash we got all five dogs cleaned up and got fleas taken care of and were able to give some itching relief to the wee ones. Of course once we had Chopper cleaned up and back in the crate in the car he pooped, so he had to come back out and the crate had to be cleaned before we could put him and the now clean Sally back in. Luckily some very nice women were able to lend a hand and hold the dogs while I did the dirty work (must remember to keep paper towels and plastic bags in the car!).
Chopper and Sally have pretty bad ear infections so we cleaned those out once we got home and started the medication for that. Sally and Chopper also have kennel cough so they are on antibiotics. The three little beagles are also on antibiotics for their skin and the injured pad.
We set up crates in our basement (which has direct access to our yard) so that we could quarantine the new arrivals away from our own dogs and the other fosters. We let them run around for a bit and got some photos and we spent a good amount of time smiling while watching all the dogs rolling in the grass and laying in the sun. Chopper sniffed his way around the yard and then sat by the back door waiting to go in. Sally loves chasing a ball, as do Arthur and Trillian. It was hard to spot Ford in the tall grass we let grow in the back of our yard. Everyone seemed very happy and content. We put everyone inside for dinner and they got one more out before bedtime.
Once the dogs were taken care of we got to eat and relax and then spend a few more hours getting the new dogs into the system and up on the website. We did, luckily, get a full night's sleep.
Later today we have heartworm tests and rabies shots for the three litle dogs. We want to give them as much time outside today as we can and we will also try and get some good video because the three little beagles are just ridiculously cute, Chopper gets around so well, and Sally is a lovely, lovely dog and photos never do anyone justice.