Let me tell you about Freya. Freya is a 10 year old (her vet's best guess was she was around 2 when we got her) Catahoula Leapord dog who works as a behavioral dog for our son, does asthma alert for me and my other half, and is a very well behaved, laid back all around 'mama hen'. She has raised 2 cats, two puppies (not hers), and is currently assisting in training my assistance dog. Freya is restricted to an 'at home' dog however because of her rough beginning. We rescued Freya from a 'high kill shelter'through a Catahoula rescue 8 years ago.
When we went to see Freya at the shelter, she didn't have a name. She had a number, like a prisoner. They knew NO background information, they couldn't even remember if she was dropped off by a person or just left. She didn't matter at all, she was just there. She was in a cement floored, filthy kennel, with a mostly empty water dish and no food in the bowl. She was also about 20 lbs under weight. I found Freya on Petfinder listed as an "urgent need" because the shelter was going to Euthanize her the next day. Why? Because they couldn't adopt her out as she had never seen a vet in the 6 weeks she'd been there. THEY didn't bother so they were going to kill this wonderful, intelligent, caring creature. They did allow the Catahoula Rescue Person to take her, and they promptly handed her over to us.
They also didn't bother feeding her, at least not enough. They had moved her into this "solo" kennel just that day because we were coming to get her I was told, before that she was in a 'group kennel' with other 'big dogs'. The group kennels were in even worse shape, I could barely look at them because I wanted to take all the dogs and cats home. She had to compete with the other dogs for too little food, resulting in injuries to her belly, and a fear of other big dogs. She also has food issues. It took some work at first, but I can take food from her mouth now, and take her food dish away, so can the kids. But she still growls at other animals that come near her bowl. I don't take her out to work because I'm not sure she'd have enough self-control in a store to not try and take food from the shelves. She is improving a bit, Sophie is allowed to check out her bowl after she eats now, though Sophie stays well away from her while she's eating (we feed them in separate rooms).
In the above picture you can see some of the scar tissue on her breasts. These are not tumors, they've been there and the same for 8 years. The vet says they are no risk to her any longer; there was risk of infection when we first got her, as they were still healing.
We've often through the years had an issue with her weight. Some dog foods she can't handle (like dry and several brands of canned foods) and she'll get sick if you feed them to her. She tends to lose weight easily. She has allergies to pollen (tree pollen season gets her every year) and she'll cough and lose weight from the effort. Now that she's getting older, we struggle more with it and have added extra meals to her day. We also don't stint on the treats or the hand outs from the humans. She'll never be an overweight dog. Right now she's slightly under weight despite our best efforts; her Vet says she's as healthy as can be expected at her age and with her background. We don't know yet if her early upbringing (and who knows what happened to her before that evil 'shelter') will shorten her life span or bring more difficulties down the road. She's also afraid of thunderstorms and loud noises, we're not sure why. As she's a 'hunting breed' it's possible someone took her hunting before she was ready, or maybe it was spending weeks in a kennel in Florida with thunder reverberating off the walls. Maybe it was the incessant barking of the other dogs. She hides under my desk and we pet her and tell her it's ok.
She also has separation anxiety. It's a good thing we rarely leave her alone because she howls the entire time we're gone and tries to get out through windows and doors, taking down blinds, curtains, and anything else in her way. Crating her doesn't work, she just lays there and shakes, and chews on herself until she bleeds. So, someone always stays home with Freya.
She's had a good 8 years anyway, so far, that we've given her. She has a family who loves her, feeds her, takes care of her. She has her 'babies', Dori the cat and Sophie the Chihuahua mix puppy. She has her kids, my son and daughter, to watch over. She does her job, and would like to do more (she tries to help as a balance/mobility dog but she's too small and fragile to handle that work). She lives up to her name as the Goddess of Motherhood.
We're better for having her. But I wonder about all the other dogs and cats who were in that 'shelter'. How many starved or were too sick to survive by the end of their 'stay' even if they managed to be adopted? How many were put down by adoptive families when it cost too much to bring their new pet back to health? How many were put down by the 'shelter' because they failed in their duties to do so much as basic medical care and food?
One day Freya will leave us and cross the rainbow bridge. We've had a few close calls in the past few years, when she would suddenly lose weight and I would get up during the night to make sure she was still breathing. This year has been better, whether because we've moved out of the falling down, lack of AC and heat house or because we brought Sophie home and she has a new job to do and a new 'baby' to care for I'm not certain. But I do know that when she goes, she will go happy, loved, and mourned.
There is a petition on Whitehouse.gov sponsored by Pet Food Stamps to outlaw for-profit 'High Kill Shelters'. Because of increases in the 'signature threshold' we need 100,000 signatures by May 26 to get a response. I have confidence in our community at DKOS, that we can add a significant number to the over 3,000 who have signed already. So please, if you have pooties or woozles in your life, or if they've made a difference in the lives of your friends and family, or if you just believe that 'shelters' should have to do just that, please, add your name and your plea to outlaw these cruel organizations. There are more Freyas out there just wanting to be loved and offering so much in return.
Please sign the petition to outlaw for-profit 'High-Kill' shelters
7:54 PM PT: Got to go for the night, but I'll be back in the morning to check comments and respond. Thanks for all of you who are signing the petition and/or passing this on to others. We've gone up by about 300 signatures in a few hours, I would suspect a lot of that was due to DKOS activism.