(This is my first official blog posting, but not quite the way I’d envisioned it all this time I’ve been waiting for the perfect inspiration to begin with since registering so many months ago. It started as a Facebook status update, but it sort of grew to unweildy proportions along with my ire. I apologize that it isn’t more professionally proofed, and for the language which may not be of journalistic calibur, but dammit, somebody has to say something, and the apparently word needs to be put out there, even if its out there in the four letter variety. In this case its appropriate; welcome to my world. Ready? Here it goes: I am…)
Fucking FURIOUS at people who don’t bother to put a GODDAMN TAG on their dog! This is the second puppy in as many weeks that my boyfriend has brought home to rescue from imminent peril. Just like the last one, it looks like a four month old pit mix, with a very sweet disposition and good manners. Unlike the last, this one is bathed, spayed (still has stitches), and wearing a nice COLLAR, and maybe even microchipped. Unfortunately, since the collar has no bloody TAGS on it, and as its after hours at the shelter, we’ve no way to find her idiot owner.
SOOO pissed off right now because I have just had a huge row about it with the boyfriend over the danger of bringing her into the house where we just had a puppy with parvo all over the place!! I can’t understand how someone can go to the trouble of purchasing a collar or even really THINKING about having a dog and then letting it go even ONE DAY without some means of getting it back should it get out or away from you. WTF PEOPLE!!?? How hard can it be?
My own dog had new tags as soon as I got a new phone number when we moved to Redondo and THANK GOD because the very next day I came home to an open front door. Wide open. I had very little time to panic though, because it did occur to me that I had been out a few hours already and it was entirely possible that someone had already grabbed him and possibly had called the number on his tags. I RAN upstairs, saw the blinking answering machine, and the first words I heard upon punching “play” were: “Hi, I’ve got your dog….”
I nearly cried with relief. The booger had actually made his way from Redondo all the way up to Hermosa and at some point across PCH without getting run over! An 85 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback is an imposing figure that most would be wary of, but a very kind man who spied him down on the street alone was brave enough to approach, and upon finding him amicable, take him into his home. For that I am forever grateful because he was the best dog I’d ever had. I offered the man $100 for his troubles which he refused, but I was insistent on somehow showing my gratitude, so he told me to give it to the SPCA if I felt I must give him a reward. I wrote them a check the next day. It seemed fitting; he’d been a pound puppy, too.
Having my dog back was beyond invaluable – literally priceless. It would have cost at least $60.00 to claim him if the shelter had been the ones to return him to me anyway. I spent the money without a single regret even after the fact and unnecessarily; I would have spent more to get him back. But really it only needed to cost me $6.00 to make that happen: the initial expense of the tag I had engraved on the machine at Petco. Six whole dollars… for a million-dollar dog.
Six bucks and 10 minutes of time was the total real cost of what saved me at least a day of calling every single shelter in a 30 mile radius*(see note), worrying ten years off my lifespan, and possibly my dog from being hit by a car or simply being kept by the people who found him. He was such a great dog that the guy told me if they weren’t able to find his owner they would have kept him even though they already had two dogs of their own. I was also pretty damn glad I didn’t waste time before putting the new tag on him as soon as we had the new phone number considering he’d only been wearing it a day before it proved its usefullness. He wasn’t microchipped, but who knows if they would even have thought to have that checked if he had been?
A few years ago, the boyfriend found a gorgeous Lab pup that we wouldn’t have hesitated to keep if we couldn’t find his owners. Were it not for an extremely dog aware friend of ours who suggested the possibility that he might have a chip, the thought would never crossed our minds, nor would we have known where to take him to check for one even if it had. When we took him to the shelter for a scan, it turned out that he’d only been recently adopted from that exact place a day or two ago! The fact that he was a stray in the first place should have been a clue that maybe the beast had a tendency to wander, you think? (*eyeroll*) We still have yet another stray Shepherd mix that has that same tendency, but that’s only because the folks who recover him can find us whenever he pulls a Houdini. He’s pretty good at that trick; he’s done it at least three times and we don’t know his secret yet.
I myself snagged a rather huge but docile German Shepherd from a local gas station while out and about, but was able to get him home in 20 minutes because of this amazing shiny technogadget called “ID TAG.” And it was a hell of a lot less trouble and inconvenience than returning the Lab puppy even though there was no one home at the address printed on it. I’d written a note to leave with my contact info, but their neighbors were kind enough to take the dog until the owners returned, saving me the hassle of figuring out what to do with him while waiting to hear from them. I had to keep the Lab overnight at my own house before I could drive him to the shelter during their business hours the next day. I am about the ideal person you want to find your lost pet, because I will spend, have spent, hours making flyers, posting ads, crawling the internet looking four “lost” postings to reunite lost animals with their people. But I’d rather not have to do all that, if you don’t mind, and most people just can’t even if they want to.
Shortly I will upload to FB a video and some new pics of the newest member of our family, the aforementioned pit mix pup who was eating bugs in the Carl’s Jr. parking lot and who was about to become dinner for a full grown pit himself before Chad came along. We were unwilling to leave him at the kill shelter (no microchip) even though we could come back and adopt him after four days for $120.00 complete with a set of shots, license, neuter and a free vet consult because there was no guarantee he’d actually make it all four days without being euthanised for some other reason (like illness or fighting with other dogs in the crowded kennels.) We’ve now spent more than four hundred dollars on puppy food, vet fees, antibiotics and flea meds as well as a goodly amount of sleep and emotional distress to nurse him through canine Parvovirus, infected bite wounds and a heavy infestation of worms (round AND tape) and posting pics on every lost pet site I could find online.
His name is now “Mickey.” He knows it. I had it engraved on his shiny new bone tag along with his new address and phone number. Made it to Petco 10 minutes before closing time the day I gave in and decided we were keeping him for good. I figured it would be a tragic shame (well, pretty much the most horrible thing in the world) if he were to find himself alone on the streets and unable to be located again, or God forbid, put to death by the animal shelter considering he could have tested positive for Parvo having just gotten over it! After everything put into this dog, you better believe I want him back if he gets lost – and that right soon.
I do think there’s a high probability that this second beast Chad scooped out of traffic yesterday has a microchip considering her condition and disposition, but since no one has a wand to locate and read it, she’s got to be in our environment until we can take her to someone who does. So she’s now been potentially exposed to a highly contagious, and potentially and often deadly virus which is also particularly able to stay alive on any contact surface for at LEAST 3 months or even years on a lawn, and almost certainly the last week or so in the same seat of Chad’s car which I doubt he’s made any attempt to sterilize since Mickey sat in it under similar circumstances. Even dogs that have had ALL their shots can still contract it, and epecially the young ones who may not have had a full set yet like this one who looks about the same age as Mickey. If she’d had a goddamn NOTE tied to the collar with an address that couldn’t have been far from where she was found dodging traffic, the risk to her health would have been minimized by a factor of who knows what.
The idea that this sweet and pretty dog might have to go through what Mickey did (dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea – possibly bloody) and her owners might have to go through what I did (home treatment is cheaper than the hospitalization which is often recommended, but exhausting and constant and messy) all because they were too busy or empty headed to put some kind of ID on their new pet is infuriating. Its frustrating because even the worry that it MIGHT happen could have been avoided for so little time and money its absurd. Even if the pet hasn’t chosen a name yet, there are little message-in-a-bottle type capsule/canisters you can buy to hold a little piece of paper with contact info till the permanent tags are ready, and even “shrinky dink” style ones you can write on that bake into hard plastic in the toaster in 5 minutes. If you don’t want to expose your information, then use a proxy – like the folks who put the number of a service which holds the owners information private, but will take the finders contact info so that the owner can reclaim their pet. (These were some strange and rather cold people that I met when I returned their dog via this method, but they were strange and cold people who had their dog back in short order thanks to an ID with a phone number on the collar.) Christ, write on the collar with a Sharpie if you have to — JUST DO SOMETHING so your pet can be safely, and quickly returned! The faster, the safer, the better, and preferably not dependent upon equipment that a normal person is unlikely to possess to decipher where they belong!
The fact that only about 13% of lost pets get returned home is appalling. A loss that’s so EASY and inexpensive to avoid, but still that’s ONLY 13 OUT OF EVERY 100 PEOPLE SEEKING THEIR LOST PET that have avoided heartache. And that’s just on paper, but really its out of many more when you count the kids in those families crying their eyes out over Fluffy in the other 83% of households suffering a loss. Even the closure that can come from knowing a pet died when they were hit by a car is better than the endless searching and hoping. Plus many older pets do actually choose to go away to die; our GSD got as far as the neighbors front lawn, but if he’d gotten any further I’m sure we’d still have wanted to know what happened to him – and who’s going to think of checking a dead animal for a microchip rather than just assuming it was a stray? It could even make the difference in being the emergency contact if they are injured and need vet care that can save them, even if it’s just because the person who hit them is more likely to take on that responsibility for someone’s identifiable pet when they can’t be reached right away.
I have totally HAD it with stupidity. It makes me want to slap people when I see a dog like that who’s barely been tended to, but really even more so when its been otherwise well cared for. I find it completely irresponsible and frankly inexcusable for an animal that has been collared and bathed not be immediately identifiable and returnable as well. Otherwise, why bother? HOW can this possibly NOT be the top priority for something you care enough about to FEED every-fucking-single day?
Would you not teach your child his own name?
*Note: You would be amazed at the way LA county sprawls across zip codes and how that affects jurisdiction. My mother’s dogs got out of her fenced yard in Ladera Heights and had gotten less than a mile before someone picked them up. Despite there being a number of shelters that were nearer to her house (and which we had called to no avail), the one that actually had her dogs was over 18 miles and a 35 minute drive away in Downey (which we had not even considered as a possibility.) After they’d been gone four days, I’d had a dream while taking an afternoon nap in which I saw them both behind a chain link fence in a kennel which seemed to be that shelter, so we called and asked them if they happened to have a black and white Cocker that was probably palling around with a scruffy looking Briard mix. They did, and we were able to come and get them then, on the day before they were to be available for adopting or put to death within the hour if they were not. Cost a pretty penny too. All because Mom didn’t bother to put their collars (with tags) back on after giving them a bath.