Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye To Shelby Angel

First of all, thank you to everyone that has read this blog over the past few years and supported Shelby Angel through her rescue, restoration of health, and attempt to find her a home.  I have not written a post in the past year as I was receiving some inappropriate hate comments, and put her blog on private to protect the integrity of her spirit.  (please know that respectful opinions are welcome.  If you proceed to be hateful, cruel, or mean, your comment will not be published. I am not scared of bullies, and that behavior doesn't work with me.)  I am sad to re-open the blog in such a painful way.  I apologize it has taken me so long to voice my story and concerns on her blog, but it took awhile to face my grief.  You are welcome to read my history with Shelby Angel on this blog. 

On February 14, 2013, the Humane Society of Memphis put Shelby Angel to sleep.  I found out by walking into the building for my weekly volunteer night, only to be told she had been put to sleep earlier that day.

I knew there was trouble brewing.  Shelby Angel was admitted to the Humane Society to help assist her with toy obsession.  She was a great dog, but needed training in one last area to truly make her adoptable.  She would take toys in her mouth and run around and around till she was exhausted.  She would pick fights with other dogs if they had the toy.  She was so focused on toys that she would not listen to her handlers.  Often times, handlers could not get the toys out of her mouth.  She would release them, but not to everyone. 

Toy guarding (a type of resource guarding) is not an uncommon training problem.  Fortunately, the Humane Society had a trainer that was willing to work with her.  We wanted her safe around families and other dogs when toys were introduced. 

Until they didn't have a trainer, which happened shortly after Shelbs arrived.  And until the admitting director left and was replaced by a new director.  After these changes, Shelby never received training.  She was crated, fed, and given outside time.  But that behavior of toy guarding?  Never addressed.  Training time?  Never happened.  

Week after week I would volunteer my time with the Humane Society.  I would take Shelby Angel walking on a leash to keep her leash skills up.  I NEVER had a problem with her on a leash.  She didn't pull, she didn't bark or growl at other dogs (EVER) and she didn't lunge.  I continued to work with her on sit and stay.  Believe it or not, I could put a treat a few feet away from her and she perform a sit/stay until I gave her permission to get the treat.  Oh, and kisses?  Yes, she gave those on command too.  Surely there was a home for her!

But the toy guarding?  That was beyond my skill and my 1x weekly visit time to address in a lasting way. 

This pattern continued for years.  Shelby Angel wasn't adopted.  She was the same dog...same big heart with lots of love and snuggles...same behaviors with toys.  Nothing changed.  No one intervened.  Many animals went to functions, adoption days, and special events.  Not Shelby Angel.  Management never took her.  I couldn't understand why.  She didn't bark or growl at people or dogs.  She did great in public!  She wasn't marked as a favorite, and never left the facility. 

Despite the lack of good stimulation and kennel stress, Shelby still did not lunge at the crate bars, bark at other dogs, or start acting aggressively.  Every week I would show up and should would climb all over me with love and excitement.  It was as if she knew Friday was her day.   I prayed week after week that someone would see her value and adopt her.  The kennel workers loved her.  The volunteers loved her.  Where was her home? 

Then it was reported she bit a new volunteer that did not know she shouldn't pull toys out of dogs' mouths when they are resource guarding.  I do not know the extent of the injury.  Scratch?  Stitches?  I never got the full story.  I do know that it is scary to be bitten, and the Humane Society was correct to take it seriously.

But the story gets cloudy from here.  Different sources told me different things.  She was given a behavior test and passed, but they didn't like her body posture?  They looked at her history and felt that she wasn't adoptable due to her toy aggression/bite history?  Supposedly a walker came forward and volunteered to pay for all training for her with a private trainer to work on toys?  Another volunteer offered to foster her?   I will never know the true and honest story.

She was put to sleep without notification.  Volunteers were not informed.  People that loved her were not informed.  She was not given a chance.  There was no chance for intervention.  There was no chance for sponsorship for training or fostering or anything.  How about contacting a sanctuary to find her a home as the Humane Society has done in the past with other dogs?  NOPE.  Nothing.  The Humane Society did not reach out to anyone. 

And what about the training she was supposed to receive?  Isn't the Humane Society about finding dogs homes?  Helping them be adoptable?  That is the kicker...they hired a trainer to start on Monday....after putting Shelby Angel down the previous Friday.  They did not even wait to give her a long-promised chance of help.  They wouldn't even wait 3 days for the trainer to arrive.

So, what has become of the Humane Society of Memphis?  The number of euthanasias has escalated.  The commitment to helping a dog find a home in the Anakin's Buddies spirit "for however long it takes" has been thrown by the wayside.  The relationship between the office staff and volunteers has all but deteriorated.  Bully breeds are becoming less welcome, and cute and quickly adopted puppies are brought in by the dozens.  Abused and neglected animals are having a harder time getting placements, while healthy puppies make their way in trouble free.  (Azumi is a prime example of a dog I had to push with all of my might to get the Humane Society to help that clearly fit the abused and neglected mission.  Fortunately for her, she found a home withing 3 days and had a happy ending.).

Euthanasia is becoming a more accepted method for dealing with "problems."  The Humane Society has never claimed to be euthanasia- free, but never have the numbers been so high since as they have recently.   Please read this blog if you are interested in learning more about the incidence of euthanasia the Humane Society of Memphis. 

I have not been back to volunteer since the day I found out Shelby Angel was put to sleep.  I have needed some time to look into my heart and decide if the Humane Society of Memphis is the place for me.  Many volunteers have left over the past 1-2 years.  It is difficult to pour your love and soul into caring for animals, when you do not feel respected by the managing employees....or when you watch the dogs you care for lose their chance at life. 

Thank you for reading and for all of your support.  I feel that there was another option for Shelby Angel.  If the Humane Society did not want to use resources to help her with toys, other sanctuaries or training options should have been explored.  The amazing team of volunteers that show up week after week after year should have been given an opportunity to help.  I do think that safety should be the number one priority for everyone, and I am not debating the facilities concern for safety.  I am just challenging the actions- was there another way to achieve safety?  Was there another intervention?

I am going to end this post with a few of my favorite and fun pictures of Shelby Angel.  Thank you for following her story, please continue to be kind to animals, and please help save an animal and be their voice whenever the opportunity presents itself to you.  Thank you.
 Crazy animal house!
 Generous kisses....
  Nap time with a friend. 
 May Shelby Angel always rest in peace and comfort.  Thank you for being my friend.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jingle Bells!!!

Shelby is still doing well. We have some fun videos to post of her, but they have not been edited yet by the volunteers at the Humane Society, so I will post them as soon as I can.

But I tell you, she is really, really ready to go to her home.

She is meant to be loving with and on someone. My time with her is so special, and I know that she is not meant to be sitting in the shelter. She is meant to be basking in the sun, lounging on the couch, and going for lots of walks.

Dear Santa...please bring Shelby Angel her family for Christmas.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

On to October!

Hello! Shelby is still doing well. She is my best sweetie in the world, and I look forward to seeing her every Friday. She goes insane when I walk through the door, and all of the kennel workers just can't believe how excited she gets to see me. They have told me she does not react that way to anyone else. You see... she has this HUGE heart for people that love her. I know she will have this love for her forever family.

So, yesterday we took our normal walk and then had snuggle time. I generally don't take her to the play pen because she ends up spending our time obsessed with toys. I want her to have the chance to be a normal dog that interacts with people, not a kenneled dog that overcompensates in the play yard with her toys. I think the more normal activities in which she can participate, like walks, the better. None of this toy-obsession when she is with me...we just won't do it.

The funniest thing happened yesterday. We had already taken a nice walk and she used the bathroom several times and was good to go. (BTW- completely house broken...never an accident in my home). When we sat down for snuggle time, she got so excited when we were kissing and snuggling that she peed a little bit. It was hilarious! She was just so excited, and I have never seen her do that. I had a good laugh over that one. I know for a fact that Shelby Angel loves me. I just really hope someone else will get to experience this with her.

Below I have attached a letter that has been circulated on facebook. I have read this letter before, and I wish more people would read it, especially those people that will not spay and neuter their animals. I recently had a co-worker that bred her yorkie....again. She is not a show-dog. My co-worker knows nothing about breeding and bloodlines. She just has a dog she thinks is cute and chooses to breed her. It really makes me sad. So, read below and feel free to circulate. If we keep at it, maybe one day people will be more educated. Maybe.

A Letter from a Shelter Manager - anonymous in North Carolina

I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will.

First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know.

That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses I hear are; "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would". How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? "We don't have time for her". Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! "She's tearing up our yard". How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog".

Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.

Those dogs just don't get adopted. It doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are.

If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down".

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff". Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk. I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.

I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say "I saw this and it made me want to adopt". THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Let's Get The Word Out!

Okay, everyone that has facebook access, please go to Shelby Angel's link on Petfinder and "like" her. This could be one step we can do to make her more visible.

I am going to speak with the media contact at the Humane Society to get some press updated on Shelby Angel. I think it would help provide a more clear picture of her.

For one, as a dog walker at the Humane Society, I walk a lot of dogs that "pull." Shelby is not one of these dogs. In the petfinder description, it describes her as a dog with a lot of energy that likes to run on leash- it almost gives the impression that she is a "hand full." In reality, she can run about 1 mile (when it is not hot) and she stays right by your side. She is not a puller. Initially, when getting out of her room at the Humane Society, she will pull for a couple of minutes out of excitement, but then she settles down. She is one of the easiest dogs to walk. And, as she has lived in my home, I can attest that she was HANDS DOWN the easiest dog to walk. She wants to be right by you- she is not a big explorer.

So, I think with a little time and effort, I can help make these messages clear to potential adopters. She is a GREAT walking dog. She is a VERY CALM dog.

She has never growled or barked at another passing dog. She has never lunged at a nearby dog. I think these are some things to which I can attest, that others may not know. The only aggression we have seen from her has been Yep. Toys. Not even food. So, I am going to keep trying to step up and get the message about her clear. Please like her petfinder link on your facebook page to help out. Thank you so much.

And, just a fun note- last weekend I was stranded at Shelby Farms after a 3 hour run. Exhausted and sweaty, I made my way over to Shelby Angel while waiting for a ride and just sat in her kennel with her and snuggled for about 30 minutes. I just miss her so, so, so much. She is a complete BFF.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Too Hot!

Several of our Friday night dog walking sessions have been canceled from the excessive heat here in Memphis. I have not seen Shelby Angel in 2 weeks! :( No bueno!!!!

So, hopefully this Friday I will get to see her.

Also on my "to do" list is to talk to John at the Humane Society and find out if I can post some cute pictures or a nice little sign linking visitors to her blog on her kennel. Bekah and I had originally put some cute pictures, a print out of the blog, and the Commercial Appeal article on her kennel when she first arrived at the Humane Society. Everything has since gone MIA.

I think having a little extra information on her kennel would be great. I want people to see that she is just as special as all of the dogs there and that she has a story. I also want them to know that there are people that do know her and her behavior and can answer some questions!

I hope everyone is surviving the heat. I am going to put out a little extra water bowl on my front porch in case there are some critters in need of hydration. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shelby Angel and the Pool

A volunteer shared this with me from the Humane Society. Pretty funny :) Shelby Angel is very much needing a loving home. Please share her story with others!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two new pictures :)

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy! I told you she was a happy girl and got excited when I would come visit! What a great smile she has!
And kisses :) You know I am a big, big fan of Shelby Angel kisses. Bring them on!