My Animals Need A Loving Home!
A True Story by Patty Adjamine

The man walked into the lobby of the animal shelter. Behind him, two
dogs followed faithfully, without leashes. Both dogs were calm, obedient
and apparently well-trained Chow mixes. Their guardian was distraught.

The man waited nervously on a line of other people surrendering animals
to the pound. His eyes were desperate as the two dogs stood quietly
beside him. He frantically looked around the lobby.

He spotted me with two cats in carriers as I was taking papers from a
shelter worker and preparing to leave. He quickly sensed a rescue
situation and begged me if I could also take his dogs. "My dogs are wonderful,"
he told me. "They are well trained, gentle, affectionate, good with kids.
They are only two-years-old. I am moving and cannot take them with me. My
animals need a loving home!"

I could see his dogs were nice dogs. One of them licked my hand when I
petted him. But, I could not take them.

I explained to the desperate man that while I could not immediately
take his dogs, I would get their intake numbers and let him know what was
happening with the animals. I promised, if possible I would try to find
a placement situation for them. He gave me his pager number as he did
not yet have a phone. He then reluctantly signed his dogs over to the shelter.
When a shelter worker came to take the animals away, both dogs tried
desperately pulling back towards their former owner. The former guardian fought
back tears and then forced himself to look the other way -- and exit the
shelter doors.

That evening I called the shelter to check on the status of the dogs.

One had already been "put to sleep."

I was told that both dogs behaved "aggressively" in the shelter. One
had been euthanized because he had attempted to bite a shelter worker. The
other was being held for another day or two for a "reevaluation." I asked
if I could see the surviving dog and was told I could.

I raced to the shelter to see the dog who still was alive. From the
back of the cage, this formerly friendly and loving dog was now snarling and
assumed a defensive/aggressive posture. The same dog who earlier licked
my hand, now threatened to lunge at me. I dared not attempt to pet him.
He was terrified.

Upon arriving home, I immediately called the former owner's pager
Less than five minutes later he called me back. I told him what
happened and about his surviving dog. "If you want this dog to live, you need
to get to the shelter and reclaim him immediately! He is not going into

The man started screaming hysterically on the phone. "THEY KILLED MY

I tried to explain that his sweet, loving dogs had become fearful and
stressed in the shelter. There was no way the shelter could have placed
them, but the man was no longer listening to me.

The next day the Director of the Shelter called to admonish me for
giving the man the information. "The man caused a scene in the shelter! We
had to return the dog to him. We cannot have this kind of chaos!" I told him
he should be happy that his shelter had one less dog to kill.

This true event happened several years ago. Since then I have witnessed
hundreds of formerly loved and loving pets suddenly undergo drastic
personality changes when subjected to the stresses, depression and
fears associated with abandonment and being thrust into unfamiliar and
frightening surroundings. Sadly, most of these pets die.

The lesson to be learned is that the acquisition of animals is a
responsibility. When one's bond to a pet is broken for whatever reason,
too often, there is no one else to "pick up the pieces" of that broken
commitment. Shelters and rescue groups are not the "solution." We are
merely a stopgap for SOME animals. But, quite literally millions fall
through the cracks. The real solution is in human responsibility:


From Jim Willis:
Personally, I think it would be a good idea if every animal shelter kept copies of this story at the front desk and asked everyone relinquishing an animal to spend a few minutes with their pet while they read it. I realize some shelters use my own story "How Could You?" for that purpose. The difference between my fictional story and this one is that in my story, the dog behaves well in the shelter environment. The below is the other side of the coin - the animals who can't take the separation from their guardian, the noise, the confinement, the stress, and who behave badly. There is also a lesson to be learned for those who think a shelter is the proper environment for evaluating an animal's temperament and behavior. Animals, being resilient, usually adapt and learn to trust another human, but first we have to get them out of the shelter, or stop them from ending up there in the first place.

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January 2005 Newsletter



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