Monday, April 10, 2006

Put Tags On Your Dog, Dammit!

Imagine - your dog disappears through a hole in the back fence. How are you going to get it back? If your dog isn't wearing any ID, you will have to scour the neighborhood, put up fliers, make phone calls to local vets, and visit all the local shelters. While you're doing all this, where's your dog? Maybe at the local pound, mere days away from being offered for adoption or euthanized, surrounded by scary dogs and scary people. Maybe some kind dog lover found your dog wandering on the highway. They assume the poor dog's been dumped and decide to keep him.

Why go through all this hassle and misery when you could simply put an ID tag on your dog, thereby dramatically increasing the liklihood that your dog's finder will call YOU, probably within minutes after they have found your dog. Heck, your phone number is right there!

On Friday afternoon two little girls came by my house. They had a little white Lhasa Apso dog with them. "We found this dog. Do you want it?" asked one of them, offering it up to me.

"Was it running loose? Did you ask the neighbors if it's theirs?" I asked them. I didn't recognize the dog at all. It didn't have a collar. Damn.

"We don't know whose it is. We asked around." The girls left the little dog with me. I put it in the backyard in one of our escape-proof kennels. I think I have strays in those kennels more often than our own dogs stay in them. I promptly called animal control and left a message. It was late in the afternoon, and I felt sure someone was going to come home from work and wonder where their dog was. If animal control could come get the dog right away, the dog would probably be home by dinnertime.

After two hours and no response, I called animal control again. The little dog had barked nearly nonstop for those two hours, and I felt sure my neighbors would take matters into their own hands if I didn't do something about it. Animal control finally answered the phone. Their facility was full. They didn't want to come get the dog. They tried to guilt me into keeping the dog overnight. "We're going to have to euthanize some of our animals in order to make room."

I didn't want to sound cruel, but to be honest, I didn't care. They weren't going to make me feel guilty. Our animal control facility recently downsized despite loud protests from the public, and had the balls to proclaim their newly shrunken program a "success" by manipulating their euthanization statistics to an obscene degree. They have made no effort to educate the public on responsible pet ownership, which, properly implemented, probably would significantly reduce the number of loose animals they constantly have to house and euthanize. I wasn't about to let them dump their problems on me. "Well, that kinda sounds like your problem, not mine," I said. "I can't keep this dog overnight."

"Call your vet and see if they will hold it for us," said AC.

"I highly doubt it," I said, feeling irritated. I wasn't about to ask my vet to do a freebie for AC.

"Then call the emergency animal clinic off the highway. They hold dogs for us," said AC at last. I gave in and drove the dog to the emergency animal clinic. The clinic staff did not seemed pleased, but they gave me an AC intake form to fill out and took the dog.

"We just don't like to broadcast that we do this," said the clinic manager. Then he tried to talk at me about irresponsible ownership. Dude, do you realize I volunteer for two humane societies, rescue and rehome critters, and run a website about responsible dog ownership? You think I don't know all this already?, I thought, but I kept silent and nodded. Yeah, yeah.

All this hassle, all this grief, just because the dog didn't have any frikkin' ID!

If the dog had ID, I could have called the owner, and the dog would have been home by that evening. No conversations with AC about euthanisia. No exasperated emergency clinic staff. No going out of my way to drive the dog to the facility. The poor dog wouldn't have to spend days cooped up in a little stainless steel kennel, stressed out and scared. And a few dogs would probably still be alive, rather than euth'ed to make room for yet another stray. That pisses me off more than anything.

Today - Monday, three days later - a boy stopped by. "Did you find a little white dog?"

"Yes."

"Here, tell my mom." The woman was too lazy to even get out of her car until the boy waved at her. She came up to my sidewalk.

"Did you find a little white dog?" she asked.

"Yes. Some neighborhood kids found her and brought her to me. She didn't have a collar or tags so I didn't know who she belonged to," I explained.

"Oh," said the woman, looking surprised. "Oh, well, we only put her out in the backyard." Her tone of voice said You really don't need tags for that, sweetie! I'm sure the look on my face in response probably confused her more, since it was a mix of disgust, frustration, and irritation. "I guess she got out of a hole in the fence..." the woman tried to explain.

"Well, that's exactly why she should have been wearing tags, right?" I smiled. I was trying to be patient but couldn't keep a hard edge out of my voice. I explained that I had taken the dog to the emergency vet at AC's request, and now that several days had gone by, she needed to call animal control. And that was that. Off she went.

The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. I was the one who AC tried to pressure into doing their job by making it seem like my fault that some dog would have to be euthanized to make room for this woman's dog. I was the one who had to sit through a lament about the dearth of responsible pet ownership, courtesy of the emergency vet. I was the one who let this yappy dog contaminate my kennel and piss off my neighbors for two hours, and I was the one who had to drive the dog to the vet in rush hour traffic. All because this lady couldn't go through the simple motion of putting a frikkin' tag on her dog.

What does this lady get? Her dog is safe and sound instead of dead or stolen. She forks over a pittance - maybe $50 - to get her dog out of the slammer. And despite her lazy thoughtlessness, she won't hear about the dog that died to make room for her dog, or the mess I had to deal with, or lengthy lectures on responsible dog ownership. I can only pray the monetary punishment is enough to inspire her to put a tag on her dog from now on.

Is your dog wearing tags? Don't make me come over there.

1 comment:

Lulu said...

You have NO idea how happy I am to see your blog about the importance of responsible dog ownership! We so-called pits have been given such a bad name because so many of us are victimized by our own dog "people." Please help to get the word out! I hate when people look at me with nervousness when all I really want is to make friends. Thanks so much!