By Janet McAfee
Five emails containing the daily euthanasia list of Devore’s shelter animals appeared on my computer, sent by folks who tirelessly network homeless animals. At the bottom of the list was a pair of adorable little fluffy terrier dogs described as “rescue only” due to fearfulness, which means only an approved animal rescue group could take them. They were considered unadoptable and unavailable for a private individual to adopt. I called the shelter and learned that no other rescue organization had expressed an interest in them. Loving All Animals’ foster mom, Carole Ricco, told me a few days earlier she would foster a pair of dogs if they were together. Carole did not hesitate, “Let’s go get them! I’ll come with you to the shelter.”
At 4:00 pm, we arrived at the Devore San Bernardino County Shelter, located in a remote industrial area near the base of the San Bernardino Mountains. The wail of the kenneled dogs echoed hauntingly off the nearby mountain peaks. Because of their “rescue only” status, we were not permitted to visit with the dogs, and they were whisked into the required kennels for the trip back to the Coachella Valley. Papers were signed, and we were on the road by 4:15 pm. The shelter closed at 5:00. Representing Loving All Animals, we were the only rescue group that came that day, and my heart ached for the other dogs that were on that day’s list.
By 5:30 pm, we arrived at Carol’s house. The dogs emerged from their kennels and began joyfully playing in Carol’s backyard. We were happy to see the dogs had no signs of fear, but rather were friendly, lively, and clearly bonded. At 5:30, I realized that without our 11th hour rescue, these dogs would be in the shelter’s euthanasia room about now. One would have watched the other die. The dogs, believed to be 2-year-old sisters, perfectly healthy and adoptable, would be another statistic among the millions of healthy, adopted animals that are euthanized in public shelters across America.
Nationwide, about 50% of the dogs entering public shelters will be killed there. Nationwide, approximately 75% of the cats entering public open admission shelters, many of them underage kittens, never make it out alive. A few of the animals euthanized may be seriously ill, injured, or have a record of aggression. But the vast majority that are killed every year are healthy adoptable creatures, whose only crime is not having a home.
A few communities have made heroic strides to become a ‘No Kill’ community, defined as a shelter with a life release rate of 90 percent. But without extensive funding, volunteers and public awareness, shelter staff struggle valiantly to find homes for their animals. Our shelter system needs improvement, but an irresponsible segment of the public fail to spay their pets and create a stream of unwanted litters of animals entering shelters. Hoarding cases stretch shelters to their limit, and they simply run out of kennel space.
Today, Crystal and Pearl play happily at their foster home. Initially, they were not leash trained or house trained. Most likely they were “outdoor only” dogs, coming in as strays from the unincorporated area of Highland. In Loving All Animals’ obedience training class, dog trainer Sandy Miller is teaching them how to walk on a leash and respond to a variety of commands. The pups are now house trained and use a doggie door.
A bonded pair, the dogs move as if they are one, eating out of the same food bowl and then moving on together to the next bowl. There is something special about sibling dogs together. Crystal and Pearl have a genetic bond that goes far beyond canine companionship. If separated, they look longingly for the other. They are family, and have endured the worst together, and now are full of joy playing together. Sandy Miller believes it would be a very difficult transition for Crystal and Pearl should they be adopted separately.
Crystal and Pearl now seek their forever home, and they would love to be adopted together. This lively spunky duo would like a home where they have a back yard to play in before coming inside to cuddle with their humans. They are now spayed and vaccinated, and there is an adoption fee. To meet Crystal and Pearl, call Loving All Animals at (760) 834-7000, www.lovingallanimals.org. Having two special bonded dogs like Crystal and Pearl doubles the fun and doubles the love.