July 17, 2012

Owner Surrender

By Dena Bates, CCB Volunteer & Foster Mom

Our Gang
We currently have four dogs; Tegan, Sleeves and Happy are ours and Lacey is our foster baby. All dogs that needed a place to live, and though not planned, convenient or easy, we opened our home to them and, as you would expect an animal lover to say, they have opened our hearts : )

I recently lost Tegan and Sleeves. They escaped the backyard fence through a small hole they made and were gone. I like to imagine them sneaking under the deck and slowly chipping away at a weak area we couldn’t see, as if my backyard was the State Prison in Shawshank Redemption. Wishful thinking I know. Their escape was my irresponsibility as a pet owner and I felt horrible. When I realized they were gone my life stopped, there was nothing more important to me than finding my dogs and bringing them home. We checked the Animal Shelter twice a day, every day because the dogs we know as just Tegan and Sleeves, you would know as Pit Bulls, which means at our local Animal Shelter they have 72 hours to be claimed or they are euthanized.

Hanging around the Animal Shelter you hear the term “Owner Surrender“ a lot and I thought to myself what does this mean? Are we truly a society without moral responsibility that treats our pets as something disposable? Did these owners just decide they didn’t want their pet any more and couldn’t be bothered with finding them a home? Was contacting rescue groups too much work for them? Have they not heard of the wonderful world of social media, craigslist or even the newspaper? And what possible reason could make someone feel that “Owner Surrender” was the best option? Behavioral Issues, Divorce, Money, Moving, Children, Sickness, Death, Stress, Time, Age, What? I’ve dealt with all of these issues in some form myself and my dogs have dealt with them right along with me like troopers...

Happy the Feist came to me after my Grandfather passed away. She disliked my 1 and 5 year old, she disliked my other dog who was an Akita named Jack and at times she didn‘t particularly care for me much either. Every day after work I made time to just sit in the backyard in a chair with Happy on my lap while Jack walked around and Happy growled. For 2 ½ weeks I sat and thought of all the things I needed to do, the laundry, the bills, the cleaning, etc. Every day the old lady next door would come to the fence and tell me in some form that I was crazy. Eventually, with consistent work, they became inseparable. Jack seemed ever mindful of her size when they played together, like the Lion and the Mouse. Recouping from divorce I moved three times with Jack and Happy and I was clear to every potential landlord that we had two dogs, one of which was an Akita (another frowned upon breed). Maybe I ended up looking more than your average bear, but I always found a place for all of us to live.

Tegi Monster
Tegan came to us as a puppy; the last puppy I’d had was Jack  which was 14 years before. I was told “he’s a Pit Bull”, but I only saw a chunky peanut butter baby. Well that baby ate every baseboard in the house while teething, christened every single thread of carpet while potty training, destroyed the furniture with his rough housing and constantly pulled my kids down on their behinds because he was such a nightmare on a leash. It did not take me long to see why this Tasmanian Devil with a sugary sweet exterior needed a home. At that time not only did I have to teach the dog acceptable behavior, I had to teach the kids how to acceptably care for a very bratty puppy, which was a HUGE task in itself. The thrill of having a puppy quickly faded and they were left with hard work and responsibility their Mom refused to let them out of. I had a lot of upset kids for a while but I stood my ground and they learned what a big commitment a puppy can be. Tegan is now our clown, he has the greatest facial expressions and is (mostly) well mannered. He can be hard headed and he doesn’t share his toys, but we know this about him and we work around it.

Princess Sleeves
Sleeves, formerly owned by a tattoo artist (hence the name), came to my door on Christmas Day. Not your ideal time for dog introductions and being in a hurry for festivities she was quickly crated with a blanket over her while we made our holiday rounds. When we returned she had pulled the blanket so tight through every hole all the way around the crate we had to cut the blanket to get her out. Miss Sleeves had horrible separation anxiety. She ate my kitchen walls, the window sill and the door frame and she would scream and cry like a toddler when you left her. Until we could get her fully introduced to Tegan our household was straight up C-H-A-O-S. Tegan wanted absolutely nothing to do with her, he wanted her out of his house. He fussed and he barked non-stop. He was so stressed his lip trembled. It took a lot of time and patience to handle a dog that flat out refused to accept another dog while also dealing with separation anxiety, but we didn’t give up. We never thought that over coming one issue would actually help the other issue, but now Sleeves’ separation anxiety is mostly gone as long as Tegan is with her. When they escaped I feared that because she is so much smaller than him she wouldn’t be able to keep up and he would leave her, but I think her separation anxiety gave her the drive to stay with him while they were missing for 5 days and, though odd to say, I‘m very grateful for it.

Lacey Belle
And then there’s Lacey. Ahhh, the perfect dog for a family that hikes, bikes, swims and runs. She’s a cardio girl, and if she could do P90X with me I’m pretty sure she would. She’s great with kids, open to dog introductions and so eager to “fit in”. But adjusting your house while a new dog learns their environment is never a picnic. My kids, now older, don’t like the initial inconveniences. Terms like “two week shut down” and “crate and rotate” make them cringe. They know there’s going to be barking, growling, non-stop walks and non-stop supervision. They know that our dogs will probably act out and most of all they know that we will not be sleeping late! But they also know that the short term inconveniences and hard work are worth it now that they can see Lacey interact with our family, see her more comfortable with our dogs and see her smiling face. Knowing that she is enjoying her time with us is like finally being able to exhale a deep sigh of relief that says “she likes us“. My facebook page for our foster dogs states “We open our home to provide love, stability, hope & guidance to dogs until they can find it in a family of their own”, Lacey has made that extremely easy for all of us to do.

I can’t imagine what would lead to “Owner Surrenders”, maybe they feel the Animal Shelter is their only choice. Maybe they are in the dark and don't know there's unlimited resources and information available to help deal with dog behavioral problems and even some financial issues. Maybe they don't think about their dog being put in a small kennel (if there is space), surrounded by scary noises, strangers and other animals. They are confused, stressed and living in fear when they need to be cute, cuddly and well behaved to have even a small shot at adoption. Maybe they never took advantage of one of the many spay and neuter clinics in their community and now have unwanted babies. Maybe no one told them the ASPCA estimates that 6 to 8 million animals come to the Shelter every year and 3 to 4 million are euthanized. Maybe they don’t know that in most places the odds are worse for a Pit Bull who, no matter if he can sing and dance, will not be put with the adoptable dogs.

Sleeves and Mama
I'm not a dog super Mom or even a rock star pet owner, I have four very active kids, I work 40 plus hours a week, my life can be hectic. There have been times when I’ve felt so incredibly guilty for only being able to buy my dogs the cheapest food on the shelf or for not being able to take them on a walk, but they don’t hold that or any of my many other inadequacies against me. All of my dogs with their quirky, and sometimes difficult, personalities could have been “Owner Surrenders”, we could have said this is too hard, they are too much work or I just don’t want to do it any more, but when I look at their funny, furry faces looking up at me I cannot imagine “Owner Surrender” being an option.

Please, make responsible choices not only as a pet owner, but before you even decide to get a pet. If situations arise to where you can no longer keep your pet, do the right thing and find them a good home. For me it's not just "Adopt, Don't Shop", but "Adopt, Don't Drop", from your local Animal Shelter.


July 11, 2012

Featured Adopt-A-Bull: Andy

Featured Adopt-A-Bull: Andy

Andy was an "11th Hour" rescue from Lee County who likely would not have made it another day in the shelter.  Because of his neglect and injuries, he needed immediate medical attention -- which the shelter had absolutely no on-site resources for. 

Amazingly, a sponsor was found.  Not just ANY sponsor ... one that, PRIOR to hearing his prognosis is willing to cover whatever cost it takes to save his life, in addition to any boarding costs incurred beyond his hospital stay, while a foster is found.  The Good Samaritan, quickly gave her payment information to Lake Pine Animal Hospital in Apex where he was treated.
Today he is a healthy, bright-eyed boy, hopeful for a loving forever family. Andy is a 3 year old, pit bull/boxer mix.  He is a very friendly, eager to please dog.  Andy seems to enjoy kids, because his tail goes a mile a minute anytime he sees one!  He enjoys playing tug and loves to snuggle up with anyone willing.  He is very food motivated, well behaved on a leash, housetrained, and crate-trained. Andy also gets along well with the other dogs in his foster home. 

Featured Happy Ending: Tia

Featured Happy Ending: Tia

Deciding to foster a dog was easy, we had space and the desire to help. We wanted to watch someone open up and find their place, then find their forever home.  I knew it would be hard to let them go, but it would be easier because they wouldn't be our dog.  We learned we were getting Tia and it sounded great, she had an easy sweet disposition.  She was kind and loved everyone, perfect for us with a dog, kids and a cat already.  We needed an easy dog, one that fit....we just didn't realize how well. 

Picking her up at Phydeaux went great, she got right in the car and climbed in the front.  I would later learn, that was her spot and sitting in your lap was ideal to her, but most pitties aren't made for squeezing in between the steering wheel and the door.  She feels special now when she gets in the passenger side, but now prefers the back seat.  She loves to sleep on my daughter's lap as we drive and is a wonderful rider. 

At home she met Bandit, the resident dog at home.  Everyone got along great, he watched her in her crate during her 2 week shut down period and she learned our routine.  She saw the cat, the kids, the lay of the land and was comfortable.  Tia has always been an easy dog, she loves to cuddle and sleep.  Playing isn't her thing, getting belly rubs and giving kisses makes her day.  She is always happy and wagging her tail, if you look her way she wags her tail.  Her ability to give love never ceases to amaze me. 
We started getting ready to go to events, like Cat Banjo, Phydeaux and various parades.  At events, she always greeted people with a smile and was happy to be seen.  She was a nervous girl out, but we learned ways to help her cope with new situations.  She had people interested, meet and greets and one trial adoption for less than 24 hours.  They were great people, but she missed us and was afraid of this completely new situation.  It wasn't meant to be, but her being with us was.  We never really set out to keep Tia as part of the family, she just became one. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Diane McCaskill

Volunteer Spotlight: Diane McCaskill

Hi my name is Diane McCaskill. I have a Cocker Spaniel named Bailey. I have never owned a Pit Bull, but have grown to love them while working at Sunny Acres Pet Resort.  It is there that I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda Liston and Terry King. They started boarding some of the dogs with Carolina Care Bullies while they were waiting on foster homes. I spent time with each of the dogs and found that I wanted to be a part of this great organization.  I thought discrimination only ran in the human race until I started working at Sunny Acres. Several people would call and say they needed somewhere to board their pet while on vacation but had been turned away from places because they have a Pit Bull.  I have learned that Pit Bulls are some of the most lovable animals. I have grown attached to all of the dogs that Carolina Care Bullies had stay with us. While I am not in the position to foster right now, I can give love and attention to them at Sunny Acres. I volunteer with Carolina Care Bullies because I believe in their cause. They have outreach programs for the community and educate the community on a breed that is not given a fair chance. I do home visits for Carolina Care Bullies and am pleased that they really take pride in the wellbeing of all the dogs that are in this organization.