Look Me in the Eye and Tell Me

This dog was chased by several ACOs on a freeway for two days before she was finally caught with a chokepole.  She was taken to a high kill shelter in North Alabama and placed in a run from which she, like the other strays, was never removed.  Forced to lie in her own waste on the concrete floor, she would be sprayed with urine and feces when the person came by to hose out her run while she cowered inside.  The shelter director “evaluated” the dog and determined her to be unadoptable because she would not make eye contact.  Refused a place on the adoption floor, this dog was mercifully pulled by a rescue group and placed in a caring home where she now thrives.


34 thoughts on “Look Me in the Eye and Tell Me

  1. How some people can get up in the morning and look in the mirror knowing they abuse animals…I have a very hard time going to work everyday and leaving my puppa Shelby2 at the sitter. well it’s mom-in-law thats a good thing, but i still miss him so bad. maybe the person cleaning and spraying needs to be pis*** on one or two times then maybe the idiot would do it how it should be cleaned…The dog was just scared to death…

    1. well, maybe it’s the cleaning protocol that’s at fault, and not neccessarily the staff person that’s following the rules…

      1. obviously. but stating that s/he should be pissed on and then calling them an idiot seems a little over the top for someone who may just be a good employee and does what they’re told

        (i’m not saying that this is for sure what’s happening here)

  2. In my experience, 1 in 100 of personnel in public shelters have even remote qualifications for determining a dog’s real personality. Thank Goddess a rescue stepped up for her! I was reading this post with one eye closed, expecting the worst…but I am heartened to find that Truth prevailed.

  3. Thank DOG for rescues and that shelter worker is an idiot. What dog would not be absolutely petrified after being chased for 2 days and the choke poled and then sprayed with water.

  4. I get it people, I do. But I’d like to play devil’s advocate here for just a moment.
    It’s really hard to catch a scared dog! And a choke pole is a valuable tool when you don’t know the temperament of a loose dog. (Remember, after being chased for days, even a mellow sweet dog might take to fear biting when caught by strangers…especially irritated strangers who have been trying for days and have 245 other calls to respond to as well.)
    As for the hosing…well, would you rather she lay in her own mess until they kill her?! Most kennel workers are not paid well. Some don’t even like animals! (Don’t ask me how/why these people get hired…)
    If the dog doesn’t make eye contact, the kennel worker who doesn’t *understand* dogs is likely just as scared of this poor dog as the dog is of them. NOT the basis for a good working relationship.
    I’m actually heartened to hear that the Shelter Director evaluated the dog! In my neck of the woods, the kennel workers get to make a lot of the choices and if they are scared of a dog, or if a dog doesn’t suck up to them immediately, or if a dog doesn’t like the way they are being treated, well, those dogs tend to go to the head of the euth list.
    What is a Shelter Director’s job? Is it to evaluate animals? Is it to motivate staff to save lives? Is it to be the place where the buck stops, or to be the person where hope begins?
    I think the job description varies with the individual. I think that staying within the budget and keeping the public safe and, honestly, a low profile otherwise, is probably what most government funded animal control facilities are hoping for from their directors.
    I agree, thank Dog for rescues, but hey, isn’t this OUR job?! This is why Animal Control facilities NEED volunteers!!! Except that we’re now calling these people animal abusers and idiots. Yeah, I’m sure they’re going to invite us into their workplace to *help*….
    Can we PLEASE chill out and do what is best for the animals?! That would include really helping instead of sniping, insulting and bad-mouthing.
    p.s. This dog WOULD have been *unadoptable* in this situation…which, unfortunately, is a very typical and common scenario within the Animal Control realm. This could easily have been one of those 90 dogs that were killed to allow for *fresh inventory!* THAT is how our broken system works.
    How do we fix it?! VOLUNTEER, share, educate, DO SOMETHING (other than piss and moan about how bad other people are…)
    Help to foster and get these marginal critters OUT of that loud, dirty, scary situation so that they can settle and blossom and find somebody to love them.
    Okay…off my soapbox, you can ream me now.

    1. Lynn you ignorant slut!

      (Just wanted to fulfill your request.)

      I think a Shelter’s Director’s job is both where the buck stops and where hope begins, as you say. A leader committed to saving all but the medically hopeless and suffering sets the example for the rest of the shelter staff and volunteers.

      This shelter director has a high kill rate and reportedly keeps 100 runs open for “unadoptables” but only 20 for “adoptables”. To me, that’s someone who does not care about saving shelter pets.

      As far as deeming a dog unadoptable for behavior, that decision would ideally come only after various rehab efforts conducted by experienced trainers and vets (who would evaluate the dog physically and possibly prescribe meds). A dog such as described in the post would not automatically be a danger to humans IMO. Much further evaluation would be needed. Honestly, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the dog had completely shut down given the circumstances. In the photo, she is at least sitting up and giving a sideways glance (that body language to me says “I won’t hurt you, please don’t hurt me”).

      I appreciate what you are saying as devil’s advocate. And it’s important to have these discussions. I think I fall somewhere between “Can’t we all just get along” and “Let’s call a spade a spade”. And maybe between a few other phrases too…

    2. She was in Kennel 31. Her name is Hope.

      I’ve written before about the culture of shelters. Regardless of how Hope was caught or how she was housed before she was pulled at the 11th hour, she is now safe. The problem with this culture, and the reason I will not give a pass to this director, is that there are thousands more just like Hope. She was petrified. She was wet. She had been traumatized. How many more just like her have died since that date and will die in the future because they won’t make eye contact in a place that is loud and smells of death, waste and human indifference?

      Hope was originally going to go to New York to a sanctuary that agreed to take her. When the shelter director learned of this, she lamented the drama Hope would have to endure on such a trip. As if killing her was less than permanent.

      When you quickly label animals as unadoptable based on a cursory evaluation and with no regard for the basis for the behavior, you are little more than a clearing house for those who you think you can adopt out and a disposal facility for the rest.

      I appreciate your perspective, Lynn O, I really do. I just cannot excuse this culture because there is no end to the killing in sight. This particular director is not interested in no kill and has made no attempts to even move in that direction. If she had or would, I would be her biggest fan. Because she will not, she is my nemesis. Her words mean nothing to me when her actions do not change over years and years.

      1. “Hope was originally going to go to New York to a sanctuary that agreed to take her. When the shelter director learned of this, she lamented the drama Hope would have to endure on such a trip.”

        Clearly this shelter director has never dealt with a dedicated group of volunteers that transports dogs every weekend. Scared and skinny, fat and funny; all of us enjoy the pleasure of their company for an hour or two and help them get to safety. We’ll spend time we don’t have to lay on the cold ground with a treat to convince a frightened dog to step out of a kennel to potty. (It’s amazing how making yourself small like that helps so many of the dogs.)

        Although it *is* generally scary to the dogs that are most shy/scared/terrified, some of the dogs start to blossom as they encounter person after person who is gentle, calm, and loving. At the end of the trip, they have all the time they need to adjust to life as a cherished pet.

        I know, I know – preaching to the choir here.

    3. Animal Control facilities should be funded by the municipalities they are located in. They should not have to depend on volunteers to get anything done, and donations to keep them going. We pay taxes. Every one of us hard working Americans contributes part of our paychecks to keep this crap from happening. It’s our elected officials who choose to ignore the problems and funnel the money elsewhere.
      What would really help the animals is to have shelter workers and AC people doing for them who have compassion for them. Do you think it would have taken much to put that dog on a leash and take her out of that kennel while he hosed it down???? Do you blame her for being afraid of the blast of water coming out of that hose??? I’d be afraid too!
      I am a rescuer, foster, volunteer, and fundraiser. That’s my choice, but no, it is not my job. Nor is it anyone else’s.

      1. Animal Control facilities ARE funded by the municipalities they are located in! (At least here it’s that way…) And if it were not for the volunteers and area rescue groups, the kill rate would be even higher.
        Hard working Alaskans don’t pay local taxes! (Well, I think there’s a city tax in North Pole and elsewhere, but there are no state income taxes.)
        It’s animal control here. Tax dollars (mostly property taxes) pay to control animals…the “sheltering” is a secondary service supported by caring volunteers.
        It’s cheaper to kill than to warehouse. But killing is ugly and not politically correct, so they try not to do it, or have *justifiable reasons* for doing it. (See how the blame game gets started?!?)
        Most of the compassionate people I know don’t like to volunteer with Animal Control. It’s too *public* …they cry seeing all the unadopted animals. They get angry/frustrated with relinquishers or staff or each other. They don’t want to help kill, but they can’t take them all home, so they just stay away.
        Thank you to Brie for telling us her name was Hope! I’ve had a couple of Hopes. (Last one was adopted and renamed Zave several years ago.)
        I know that most readers here are volunteers and supporters. I don’t mean to offend anybody. I’m personally in a really bad space and I’m trying to work/think/talk my way through it.
        My JOB is rescue. These animals depend on us. But Animal Control won’t donate two bags of kibble to my for-profit kennel (I do boarding/grooming/foster and rehab) because my husband makes too much money! (But the animals are MY passion…so who should I kill to stay within my meager budget?!) S’okay, he put $1K in my business account before he left town…nobody will die this week. Except maybe Pitt if I can’t figure out why he’s not eating. I think he ate a sock. Didn’t show up on the x-rays though. ($197.50 of inconclusiveness) I spent $310 last week on gas to drive a bunch of donations 300 miles-one way–to another Animal Control facility that took in 150+ dogs from a breeder in their area. They wouldn’t let me even LOOK at the dogs…they’re *evidence*…but I’m hoping they don’t kill them if/when they become government property. I donated *stuff* because I cannot take any more dogs!

    4. LynnO:

      Frankly I am offended by your comment to “DO SOMETHING rather than piss and moan”. I can bet close to 100% of the people reading this blog are already trying to change the broken system. I am one of the many already volunteering in the broken system and trying to make a difference, and my life and home are overflowing with rescued babies I am actively trying to rehome. Each year I spend more than 30K of my own money caring for the furbabies I am fortunate enough to rescue, but I can’t reach them all.

      This shelter director and the staff supervised have no excuse, in my opinion. They seem cruel and uncaring. No, they won’t invite us in to help because we may criticize their actions, but, really, what were the chances that they would have invited us in to help anyway? Some people, and municipalities, are stuck in the old, “We’ve always done it this way” vibe and have no intention of learning a new, gentler way of truly helping the animals.

      How many shelter directors that you know are going to the No-Kill Advocacy seminar in D.C? If we don’t raise a voice and “piss and moan”, it will continue to be business as usual and the senseless slaughter will continue.

      1. @LynnO;

        Well said! I am currently in a battle with the Shelter Director, after I was fired from volunteering & fostering for stating the truth to the press. Were people pissed me? You betcha. Did I lose people who I thought were my friends & allies? Yes again. People actually sided with the shelter in fear they too would be fired. I tried changing things from the inside, tried to get them to listen to reason. Then I got nasty. Now they’re willing to sit down & talk and ask HOW can we do better? They are still stuck in the “old way” and are resistant to change but now that they know our intensions are in the best interest of the animals & their lives, they’re “looking into it”. I plan to stay on their asses until things change. I will not go away, I will not stop. Someone once posted on this blog, :”Get up their asses & stay there”. I’m taking that advice to heart. Maybe some see me as being a bitch for hurting the “good shelter employees”, well, the good ones are in the back working hard for the animals while the rest spend the day gossiping, playing basketball and killing….

        Guess who will still be there when the dust settles?

      2. Thank you ALL for reading, caring, and especially for your comments. Just saw on Oprah where happiness on the job is tied directly into how much time you spend interacting socially with others.
        I should perhaps take my interaction off the computer and get outside and scoop poop.
        So you guys think I’m hoping for compromise? Hmmm. Maybe I am? Mostly I want what is best for the animals, and firing everybody in the shelter will likely NOT help them! Getting a new director might help them. But not if some of the staff has been there for 10 years and the new director is a greenhorn without the express support of *the powers that be* above them!
        Yes, a lot of rescue folks and a lot of shelter (and Animal Control) employees have a lot of personal animals. Yes, we’re all trying to help, yes, we’re all doing our best (except for this place, of course…I guess that’s what bugs me, I am not that far from a lot of these places, and I guess I just get twitchy when you guys come down so hard on people.)
        Why must it always be a battle?! Why can’t we all just work together to take care of the creatures and each other? Anyway, thank you all for caring and for being here. It’s helping—me anyway!
        Hope is not far away…she has kin everywhere!

  5. I disagree. We “fix it” by demanding the firing of the shelter director who allows such abuse. We fix it by demanding the firing of every single employee who would spray out a kennel without first removing the animals. We fix it by demanding the firing of every shelter employee who does not work their butts off to save every life.

    It’s time to stop making excuses for this type of behavior. There is no excuse for this. Period.

    1. And if the worker is a single parent supporting his family and is following the guidelines given to him when he was trained to clean kennels, do we still demand his firing?

      While i understand your intentions, i am not a fan of blanket statements

      1. This is why leadership is critical. The director sets the tone for behavior and has the power to literally set down rules in print as well. In a culture of pet SAVING, even an improperly trained worker would perhaps question if hosing out dirty kennels with dogs in them was the right thing to do. In a culture of killing, meh.

      2. come on Ann, single parent or not either remove the dog first or don’t it. If any Guidelines set said spray the dog, then the training period needs to be addressed!

      3. i agree
        so for example, if the protocol says ‘do not remove dogs from kennels when cleaning as this can spread disease’ and this employee follows the rules and doesn’t remove the dog, why should the employee be the one who is fired?
        That is the point i’m trying to make

        And in some shelters, the employee who decides to remove the dog anyway may be the one who gets fired- for not following the protocol and exposing other animals to possible illnesses.

        (please don’t misunderstand my above statement- i in no way condone leaving a dog in a kennel to be sprayed. i’m just trying to point out that ‘firing everyone involved with this animal’s lack of care’ may not actually be neccessary or even the right thing to do)

    2. This is where I get ticked….we have hundreds, if not thousands, of shelters all across America – and each and everyone has their *own* set of standards, policies, and procedures. Regardless – I still don’t udnerstand the concept of spraying out a kennel with ANY animal in it. When you clean out a horse stall – you normally remove the horse and let it wander in a area that it can get some exercise. I know that most kennels use the time that the dog’s kennel is getting cleaned to walk the dog and play with it for a little while – even if it means running around in a closed in area to keep the dog safe. There is NO excuse for spraying down a kennel with a dog in it.

      This is where I think having a national group oversee ALL shelters comes into play. Before my time on earth is out I am working my butt off to make this a reality. I want to see consistency in each place that is supposed to be a safe haven for the animals. And if we have a national board to oversee them – then we can get rid of the old guard that isn’t willing to step up to the plate and handle things correctly.

      I’m done hearing excuses for all the bad behavior in a place that is set up to provide shelter for these animals while trying to find them homes.

      1. As an added benefit to removing the dog before cleaning, you are more likely to catch a glimpse of a dog’s true temperament outside in a play yard or on a walk than you would while she’s sitting in a wet kennel that just got sprayed out while she was in it. And if you are making decisions like “unadoptable” based on this sort of quickie “evaluation”, I would think you’d want to at least give the dog a fair shot.

      2. not that this has really anything to do with your argument (with which i pretty much agree), but when cleaning horse stalls the horse is not always removed. Depends on whether the barn has turnout available, depends on the horse (is it in quarantine? sick? a stallion?), depends on when you’re cleaning the stall (before/after daily turnout) etc.

  6. Not for nothing, but our foster dog Lexi the collie mix didn’t look at me for at least 8hrs, didn’t leave her crate for 12. She’s so bonded to us now a month later its crazy how fast they can come back into their own

  7. If National English Shepherd Rescue had been contacted about her, we’d likely have claimed her as one of our breed. She looks like a young saddle sable ES.

    And the organization has … ahem … some experience rehabbing scared ES and ESy dogs.

    They do not thrive in cells where it gets the hose again whether or not it rubs the lotion on its skin.

    1. I should add that if her adopters need any advice or are just interested in getting an opinion about her possible ancestry, we are available.

      And there are several good discussion lists for ES owners that do not discriminate against ESy foundlings.

      While breed is not destiny, there are behavior traits that are common in any selected gene pool, and it can sometimes help to compare notes with people who know and love those traits — or in some cases, know and love the dog anyway. That’s the whole point of breed-specific rescue.

  8. Thank goodness to the new family that adopted this lil one. I’m sure she’ll give you so much love as you love her<3

  9. Hope is a lucky dog. So many don’t make it out alive that are no concern. Kennel cough, Plain Brown Dog, Adult dog, Bully Breed, Black dogs all adoptable but no one came for them. Thank you for Hope.

  10. I’m going slightly off thread here but the stats for this shelter are up on the web site. For 2010, the kill rate was 68%. This is lower than last year. But – of those killed 84% were savable. Only 16% were untreatable. The shelter is not open 7 days a week and likely has a single E day each week. Doing the math, however, the shelter kills an animal about once every 96 minutes. More than 15 animals per day. Using a 1.6 million dollar annual budget.

    Hope is very lucky. So many others never had names even though they were just as adoptable as this little girl.

  11. So it’s ok to hose down the run with the dog in it & scare the crap out of her because the “guidelines” state as much? To me, that’s no different than the “guidelines” stating that when I feed the dogs I’m supposed to stand over them yelling at them while they eat. Do ya get it now? What employee with any compassion & half a brain would be ok with & not question these “guidelines” & just do it without saying “hey…there just might be a better way…& not only would that poor baby there not be scared out of her fur, but it’d be much more sanitary…” I don’t believe I’d hire, or hold much respect for that matter, a director, animal control officer, or kennel tech that saw nothing wrong with those “guidelines”, & didn’t have the heart or intelligence to question them or find a better way.

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