From time to time we all see the short commercial videos reminding us of the plight of many neglected and mistreated pets in the world, especially in the “so-called” advanced nations. Societies made up of people that should know better, yet fail to act better; people that fail to do the right-thing, treating pets at home less than humanly and treating lost or homeless pets with even with lesser humanity or completely inhumanly. Cruelty seems to know no bounds when it comes to human treatment of owned, lost and homeless pets.
With that being said, my wife and I do what we can to help the helpless if it’s in our power whether it’s to round up a lost pet, provided food and water, donate money or resources to local animal shelters. Unfortunately, we occasionally find a local resident who seems to be indifferent to the proper care of their pet. Sometimes we find, all too often, cats and dogs running loose in the neighborhood; many having owners; some with no one to turn (or return) to. We've only lived in our Tennessee neighborhood for a few years; in the first two years we found three dogs roaming around near our home with no tags.
Dog Number One
Our new neighborhood is a remote subdivision and much of it is still in the construction phase; thus we did not expect to see strays here. We were wrong; three times in two years we’ve found strays on our short street. In the first incident, the dog looked to be a pit-bull mix and scrawny. We suspected that the dog must belong to someone close by. So we took our spare dog leash (we have two leashes even though we only have one dog) managed to get the poor guy to come to us, and after getting him some water and a little food, we walked our small neighborhood to check with the neighbors to see if the dog was familiar to anyone. Nothing, no luck.
We took the dog to our veterinarian to see if the dog had a pet identification chip in his neck. All our pets are chipped so that they can be identified and reunited with us if they get lost. We hoped that this little guy had a responsible owner that had chipped him and we could reunite him with his owner. Guess what, he was chipped and that dog was one of the vets past patients. So we figured things were going to go well for this dog. Nope, not at all.
The owner refused to accept the dog and denied owning him – in spite of the fact that he’d been to that vet for treatment in the past. We did not find out about the owner’s refusal until after we had been home for a couple hours. By then, we learned that not only did the owner reject the animal; one of the veterinarian desk workers called the county pound and turned the animal in as a stray. We were very disappointed – especially after learning that pit-bulls and older dogs are often put-down after a few days, considered as being unadoptable.
Dog Number Two
A few months later it happened again: another dog lost on our street. This one would not let us get close enough to leash him. He kept running in one direction then another. We started walking the neighborhood again in hopes of finding someone who knew of or knew who the owned the dog. Still nothing. When we decided to try again and catch the dog, he was gone. We don’t know what happen to him and in the days that pasted, no one in the neighborhood saw him again. We started to think that people who did not want their pets anymore were driving them to our little area and dumping them off; knowing that the animals would have little chance of finding their way back home. After some conversations with local pet clinics and home owners, we learned that the “dumping” of pets in other neighborhoods or wooded areas is not unknown here. Sometime folks think the best solution to their money problems or to avoid providing their pets the proper care, is to dump the poor animals far from home. It’s the dump-and-forget technique for avoiding and rejecting pet owner responsibilities.
Dog Number Three
Several months later a third dog runs past our house. We hoped this dog just got loose from some one’s yard and it would find its way back. Nope. We asked around and the neighbors told us that the dog had run around the neighborhood for days hiding behind homes and in the woods. The day was very hot and this guy looked exhausted and thirsty. We carried a bowl of water out to the street and kept trying to call the dog to us. I’d put the water down from time to time in hopes he’d get the idea, but it wasn’t working. Eventually he ducked behind a house and up on the person’s back porch. We were hoping that was the dog’s home so we knocked on the door and the neighbor came out. Nope, not his pup and he had never seen it around there before.
We started to guess that this was going to be another failed attempt to reunite a dog with its owner. Finally, we got the dog to come to us and we got a leash on him. He was a she, and had a collar but no identification tags. Our hearts began to sink as we thought of this animal having been lost for some time and after our previous attempts with the first two lost dogs, we did not have high hopes for this little girl. We went from house to house in hopes of finding her home or someone who knew where the dog belonged. Nope, nothing again.
So we decided that we had to try the veterinarian again to see if the dog had an identification chip. The vet scanned the back of the dog’s neck and there it was an electronic identity chip in her neck. The vet’s assistants wrote down the chip number and checked online. And guess what – the dog was reported missing. They could not give us the owner’s information because of privacy reasons; however, they called the owner and gave them our cell phone number.
The owner called us within minutes. We had not even made it out of the vet’s parking lot when the phone rang. A man asked do you have my dog “Mila?” I repeated Mila. The dog’s head perked up and she at me. I answered back: “I guess this is Mila since she’s responding to the name.” We talked with the owner and agreed to meet in a local store parking lot close to the vet’s office.
The owners were a young couple that had moved to the area only two weeks earlier. The young woman was pregnant and due to give birth any day. They said that their dog got out of the house and ran into the woods. It was on the 4th of July and the fireworks being shot around the area scared the dog. They searched the woods for days never finding her. The young man said his wife worried sick that they would never see their Mila again.
They tried to give us $200, the reward they apparently offered to get their dog back. We refused the money, of course. We told them that we were just so happy to see Mila back with her owners.
As I tried to pick-up Mila and hand her to her owners, Mila started licking my face for the first time since we found her. “I think Mila has a new friend,” the young man said to us. It was one of those teary eyed moments of joy for everyone. After the young couple and their special dog, got in their vehicle and left. My wife and I looked at each other, and I said, “Third time was a charm.” I wish I could say that, since Mila, we haven’t seen another stray dog running loose in the neighborhood – but that’s just not the case.
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Whether it’s specifically around our street or the town, or the local parks, from time to time a stray dog or cat wanders by aimlessly. I wish we could gather up, save and protect them all, but it’s not a realistic. We will continue to do what we can to try to reunite lost pets with their owners. Hopefully, the number of homeless pets will not grow out of control – yet as of today it’s becoming a weekly occurrence of seeing lost and lonely pets throughout the county. And not just the lost, but the mistreated and neglected pets left in owners’ yards unprotected from the extreme heat of summer or ice and snow of winter – Or locked in cars with the sun cooking the air inside along with the trapped dogs and cats trapped inside. If you would not leave a baby locked in a hot car or your children leashed out in the heat or cold all day and night, why do you do it to your pets? Do their lives and suffering mean so little to you? What have you done lately to prove you are not just a human but you believe and practice humane treatment of all animals? At the least we can all support our local animal shelters with money and or volunteer your time to help those facilities.
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