Friday, August 14, 2009


I woke up not feeling too well because I hardly sleep at all. I got to work and was there a little over an hour when Claudia called me. She said, “We have a reprieve for Buddy until the end of the day.” I was shocked! I said, “How?” She explained that her dad was so upset and disgusted with the decision to euthanize the dog, he had gone to the shelter and talked with Greg Beck about his decision to put the dog down. He told Greg he wanted to file a formal complaint with the County, and then Greg asked him, ‘You really want this dog, huh?” He said, “Sure do.” Greg then said he’d give the dog a reprieve until the end of the day.

Claudia told me she had also called Greg Beck and spoke to him this same morning. She indicated he was very cold and mean to her on the phone. She said she felt this matter had turned into a "vendetta" for him as he now had egg on his face over his staff giving us incorrect information. She also indicated that a lot of people she knew had emailed the department after she told them what had happened. I asked her when a decision would me made, and she said probably not until tomorrow.

After I got off the phone with Claudia, I stopped and said a prayer, thanking God for giving Buddy a reprieve and asking him to provide a way for us to save him.

Claudia promptly drafted an email to Brian Cronin, Greg Beck’s boss, and sent it to him at 9:52 a.m. She explained to him in detail the whole story about the dog, starting with the beginning when we found the dog at the vacant transmission shop. She explained that she had originally contacted Animal Control several times to request they pick up the dog, but after there was no response from their personnel, she turned to the Humane Society to get their assistance in capturing the dog. She explained that due to the triple-digit temperatures, this dog needed to be taken off the streets before he died. She explained that she had been rescuing dogs for thirty years and had never been bitten by a dog. She also said she had been a police officer at one time and there were many times she had to jump over fences and walls into backyards where dogs were, and she was never bitten. She explained that her intent was just to rescue the dog from the street and find him a home, and had she known the outcome was going to be to euthanize the dog, she would have never had the dog taken to the shelter in the first place and would have instead worked with him longer in the field. She basically pled her case to the best of her ability, with compassion and sincerity.

At 9:54, Claudia also sent an email to Steve Singley of County Counsel and advised him briefly of the situation and attached a copy of the email she had sent to Brian Cronin, explaining the situation in detail. She received a response back from Steve at 12:45, indicating he would see what he could do about the situation and he needed to check with Risk Management.

Claudia received an email response from Brian Cronin at 11:32 a.m., acknowledging receipt of her email. Mr. Cronin explained the Shelter’s stance on dogs that show severe aggression towards staff and indicated it’s the Division’s responsibility to have their contract vet render a determination as to the adoptability of the animal. He indicated that “in the case of the animal you have found and obviously bonded with, this is the case. Our state licensed veterinarian has determined the animal you have in interest in is aggressive.” He went onto say that “there is always an exception to the rule” and indicated he "has asked the Program Manager for Animal Care and Control, Greg Beck, to develop a summary of the staff’s findings and will request that County Counsel develop a waiver or release of liability for this pet so we may consider adopting this dog to you. I hope you understand the significant liability the County assumes if we intentionally place an identified vicious or aggressive dog in a home and then someone gets injured.” He then indicated he would ask his assigned County Counsel to review the matter that afternoon and would let us know of his response.

We waited in anticipation all day, with our fingers crossed. In the mean time, we contacted Connie and kept her apprised of the situation. She told us to not give up home until the day was over, that she had a lot of people praying for Buddy. We told her we weren't about to give up hope. Afterall, Buddy wasn't dead yet!

We went and fed Buddy that night and gave him his usual "treats". He ate quite a bit and then we just sat with him a while, petting him through the bars as much as we could. Eventually, it was closing time though, and we had to leave him. We assured Buddy we would do everything we could to get him saved and released.

It was a long, quiet ride home that night, for both of us as we were both pretty lost in our own thoughts. There had to be a way to save this dog. There just had to be. Like I had told her many times over the past couple days, I again told Claudia, "We just have to keep praying." She agreed.


We waited in anticipation all day for an answer about the dog. Claudia finally received a call at 4:00 from Mr. Beck, and he indicated the answer was “No” and they would be euthanizing the dog the next day. He indicated the liability factor was still a concern for them. Claudia called me and gave me the bad news. We were both very distraught and beside ourselves.

I was so upset at this time, I was crying at my desk. How could they just say "no" after all the time we spent with the dog, and why did Greg give us false hopes? I mean, he said, "If it was up to me, I'd let you have the dog." What changed? I had no idea.

I was not thinking real clearly at this time, and my emotions started getting the best of me. I drafted an email to Greg Beck in about ten minutes that vented all my frustration and anger at his decision. Not thinking clearly, as I said, I vented out a lot of hurt and anger in that email, and then I hit "Send". It wasn't 30 seconds after I hit "Send" that my phone rang and I could see it was Mr. Beck as his name showed on the display. I picked up the phone and said, "You couldn't have read that email that fast." He admitted he didn't but read enough.

We proceeded to get into a somewhat heated conversation, and at one point, he said, "I can't believe you sent an email like this to fellow County employee." I felt like saying, "I can't believe you're treating a fellow County employee like this", but I also knew that he didn't think anything was wrong with his behavior or treatment of Claudia and I. In his mind, he was just doing his job. I admitted to him that I was very emotional and upset at the moment. However, what got me about him is with everything I had said, the only thing that concerned him was that I said, "You yourself led us to believe yesterday that there was a chance we could adopt this dog, and now you've done a 180 and now say we can't. Why the antics yesterday, Greg?" He said, "What do you mean, antics?" I asked him, "You told us yesterday if it was up to you, you'd let us have the dog and now today, you tell us no, he's going to be euthanized tomorrow? You gave us false hope." He refused to acknowledge doing this and instead kept bringing up the liability issue with the County. I told him more than once we would have released the County of any liability.

We talked for several minutes, and at one point, I explained to Greg that he could have avoided all the hurt feelings in this situation if he or his staff would have told us from the beginning, when it appeared they had obviously made the decision that the dog was unadoptable--that the dog was unadoptable. Someone should have told us--not indirectly, but directly. Not insinuating or beating around the bush or hinting at it, but straight out. Greg said, "I thought my staff did tell you." I told him, "No, nobody told us the dog was unadoptable. Instead, they saw us coming in every day, twice a day on the weekends, feeding him and bonding with him. And your vet tech told us to adopt the dog as soon as he was available. Now why would she say that if she considered the dog unadoptable?" Of course, he couldn't answer that. After some haggling, he finally agreed, "Yes, you're right. Someone should have told you." I told him, "In the future, just tell the person. Don't let them come every day and feed or bond with a dog. Just tell them from the beginning!" He agreed and said he would talk to his staff about doing this in the future.

I emailed Claudia and asked her if she wanted to go feed Buddy after work. She wrote back and told me, “I just can’t. I want to but I can‘t.” I told her I’d go feed him because we knew he’d be hungry. I knew it would be hard, but I would do it anyway because I couldn’t stand the thought of him going hungry, especially on his last night living on this earth.Before she hung up, Claudia asked me if I would call Connie and let her know what the decision was. Connie is a friend in Alabama who we met over the internet after running across her blog about a dog she rescued. We had been in contact with her about our shelter rescue and had asked her for some advice about what to do with him once we got him home.

I called Connie and we spoke for several minutes. I told her what had been decided about Buddy, and she was literally appalled. Before we hung up, she told me, “Lori, don’t give up. There are a lot of people praying for this dog. I’m going to pray for a miracle.” I told her I wouldn’t give up and I’d be praying too.

I left work and drove out to the shelter. Since I didn’t have any food with me, I stopped at Burger King and got four double cheeseburgers (hold the pickles, ketchup, and mustard) for Buddy. When I got to the shelter, he was standing in his outside kennel. I tore off a piece of the cheeseburger and held it out for him. He came forward and ate it from my fingers. I sat and fed him all four cheeseburgers piece by piece. Piece by piece, he took ever so gently. I’ve never had a dog that took food so gently from my fingers.

My heart was breaking as I sat there with him, and I prayed to God to somehow save this dog. I told God, “You just can’t let him die after all this. Please, you can’t. He deserves a chance to be a dog, to be my dog, to have a life like what my dogs have. He’s probably never had that. Please Lord, don’t let him die.” I said goodbye to Buddy for the last time. He wouldn’t come up to the kennel bars to let me pet him, and I‘m not sure why. Perhaps he sensed my sadness. I tried to hide it, but dogs have a sixth sense, you know. I know he did. I told him I loved him and then said goodbye.

It was hard to see as I drove out of the parking lot of the shelter that night. If there was ever a time I needed God to intervene, it was now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Finally--adoption day! Or so we thought. We arrived at the shelter at approximately 11:30 and went to kennel #88. We found Buddy lying in his outside kennel. I started feeding him, and Claudia asked if she should go ask the staff about having him sedated so we could take him home. I said sure, and she left to do so.

After about ten minutes or so, Claudia returned with a gentleman named Greg Beck. As Greg walked up, I noticed Buddy stopped eating and changed his whole demeanor. He got kind of a look on his face, as if to say, "What's he doing here?"

We talked about the dog for several minutes and Claudia explained to Greg how the dog had ended up at the shelter and how we wanted to adopt him. She told Greg she had been rescuing dogs for thirty (30) years so she had a lot of experience handling dogs. She also explained how Brenda had suggested we sedate him for the ride home. At this time, Greg replied, “You know, we’re just not in the business of adopting out dogs that have to be sedated. We couldn’t sedate him today anyway as our vet tech is the only one who can do that and she’s not here.”

At this time, I immediately stood up and said, “Your vet tech is the one who told us she’d be off today and said we would need to ask your staff to sedate the dog. She also said we needed to get this dog out of here as soon as possible because he‘s depressed.” Greg responded that he wasn’t sure why she told us that, but that he’d need to check into the matter further. He also said there was a liability factor that if the dog bit someone, the County could be held liable. We both told him we’d be willing to sign a release of liability.

Greg went on to say that his vet had deemed the dog to be aggressive and vicious. I replied, “The dog is being aggressive out of fear. He’s defending himself. It’s not that he’s vicious or aggressive. Any dog would act the same way if you invaded his space.” He replied, “You’re absolutely right, but my vet said this dog is not adoptable because he’s vicious and aggressive.” We then explained how the dog had shown no aggression towards us either while at the shelter or on the streets and was even now eating out of our hands. Greg responded, “Yeah, but he changed his whole demeanor when I walked up.” I said, “Yeah, he stopped eating.” Claudia responded with, “I don’t think he likes men.” (My thought was, he probably doesn’t like anybody with a scent from this place on him!)

We discussed the matter for several more minutes, and Greg indicated that he could not make a decision about the dog until he talked to his vet tech and his vet. He said he’d have a decision for us by the end of the day. He then asked Claudia how long we’d be there, and she replied, “We’ll be here for a couple hours.” He said he’d get back to us.

After Mr. Beck left, I told Claudia, "That explains why they've never placed a collar and I.D. number tag on this dog. They've never considered him adoptable. Not from the day he walked in the door."

A couple hours went by and no Greg Beck. We walked up to the front desk and I asked the receptionist if Mr. Beck had made a decision about the dog in kennel #88. She responded, “No, and Mr. Beck is at lunch.” I asked her if she knew when he’d be returning, and she said no. At this time, Claudia and I decided we would go back to Buddy’s kennel and wait for Mr. Beck to return from lunch.

We noticed the time, and it was 2:00 p.m. Most people are back from lunch by now, but not Mr. Beck. We looked at each other and said, “Uh huh. He thought if he’d wait long enough, we'd leave.”

We weren’t at Buddy’s kennel five minutes when Mr. Beck returned. (We figured the receptionist must have called him and told him, “You might as well come back. They’re not leaving!”) At this time, he said, “You know, if it was up to me, I’d let you have the dog. But I still want to talk to my vet and my vet tech and run it by my boss.” I responded, “That’s fair.” We talked a couple more minutes about the dog, and he then told us that he’d have an answer for us the next day as his vet tech was off today and he still needed to talk to her, along with his vet. We said we’d be waiting for his call.

On the way out, we stopped at kennel #60 and said hello to the black and white Pit Bull inside. As usual, he was very happy to see us and his whole body wiggled as he wagged his tail. We both commented how cute he was and how we wished we could take him home too. Little did we know at that time........

We were both rather somber on the way home and totally shocked about the way things had transpired. Here, we went through the trouble of getting this dog off the streets, thinking we were doing the right thing for him, only to be told we may not be able to adopt him, after we had bonded so deeply with him. It just wasn't fair. Neither one of us could stand the thought of the dog being euthanized and were prepared to put up a fight if that was the case. Buddy would not go down without a fight; that's for sure. If it was the last thing we did.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I went to church, and Claudia went to the shelter and arrived right after it opened. She fed Buddy and spent some time with him. She noticed the shelter was very quiet and didn’t see a single soul the whole time she was there, which she estimated to be a couple hours.

We returned later that evening, and we found Buddy in his outside kennel. We fed him his usual--hotdogs, chicken breast, liverwurst, and dog food. The dog food seemed to be his least favorite, of course. Talk about spoiled! Already! However, we coaxed him to eat some, and he did. We both noticed that his mouth had started healing and looked much better. He was getting more and more used to us, as he now ate and then laid next to the doors of his kennel so we could pet him. He seemed to be getting more responsive to the human touch as his eyes would close whenever we scratched him behind the ear. There was no licking or tail-wagging yet, but we knew, in time, they would come.

We sat with him until it was closing time and then we said goodbye. However, this time we told him, “Just one more night, boy. We’ll be back to get you out of here tomorrow morning. Just hang in there for one more night.”


We went to see Buddy and brought Claudia’s dad, David, with us. We waited in the lobby for an escort, and Brenda met us and escorted us to kennel #88. At this time, Brenda removed the Pit Bull from Buddy’s kennel and placed him in an empty kennel two doors down from Buddy.

Buddy was lying in his outside kennel, and we started feeding him. He must have been hungry as he immediately started eating the hotdog pieces that we threw on the floor of his kennel. As he approached, I took a hotdog piece and offered it to him by sticking my fingers through the bars of his kennel. To my surprise, he took it right from my fingers, and he took it more gently than any dog I’ve ever known! Claudia also was also able to feed him from her hand.

We proceeded to feed him hotdogs, liverwurst, chicken breast, and canned dog food, and he ate everything but the dog food right from our hands. The dog food he ate from a fork. The liverwurst was definitely his favorite though. How did I know this? Because when he was full, he’d turn his nose up at everything but that, and he ate that until it was gone!

On our way out, we stopped by kennel #60 to visit the black and white Pit Bull. In spite of where he was, he was always so happy to see us. His tail always went a mile a minute! We all three poked our fingers through the bars and let him lick them and petted him as much as we could between the bars. Claudia's Dad, David, also mentioned how cute and friendly the dog was, and we totally agreed as we had noticed that the first time we saw him. We hated to have to say good bye to him, but it was time leave.

On the way home, we were somewhat elated and felt Buddy had crossed another milestone. He seemed to no longer fear either of us and was starting to trust us and get to know us. It wasn’t much, but it was something! In fact, it was more than we could have hoped for.


We went back to the shelter on our lunch hour, and Brenda again escorted us to kennel #88. The dog was lying in his inside kennel, up against the wall, away from us, but there was also another dog, a male Pit Bull, inside the kennel with him. Brenda indicated they were full to capacity, and that’s why they had another dog in his kennel with him. They seemed to be getting along just fine though, and neither one was showing any aggression towards the other.

Brenda was able to get the Pit Bull to go into the outside kennel, and she then shut the slider door so he was kept separate from our dog, who was still in the inside kennel. We threw him some hotdog pieces, but he wasn’t interested in eating them at this time. He laid with his head on his paws, and put his face in the corner of his kennel. It was heartbreaking for both of us because he looked so sad.

Brenda explained that the vet had come in to examine the dog; however, he was not able to as the dog would not let him near him. She said it would probably take another couple days for the dog to come around. Brenda then said the dog would be available for adoption on Monday and suggested we get him out of the shelter as soon as possible because he was depressed. I asked Brenda how she thought we could get him in the car since he didn’t really know either one of us, and we had no idea how he would react in a car or if he had ever been in one. Brenda said she would be off on Sunday and Monday, but when we came on Monday to adopt him, we needed to ask the staff to sedate the dog so we could transport him home. At this time, Claudia asked Brenda, “Since he actually has until the 27th, should we leave him here until then and come by every day and feed him so he’ll get used to us and get to know us?” Brenda immediately replied, “No, you need to get him out of here as soon as possible. Look at him. He’s depressed.” I agreed and said, “Yeah, this is no place for him. I’m sure all the noise is freaking him out.” (There was not only noise due to all the other dogs barking whenever someone walked by, but there was also a train that ROARED by several times a day, and it was only a couple hundred feet from the shelter. Whenever it went by, the sound from it was deafening.) We then assured Brenda we would come on Monday to adopt the dog. We spent a few minutes with the dog and then left as we both had to get back to work.

We returned to the shelter that evening after work. At this time, we were told we could go on back to kennel #88 and didn‘t need to wait for an escort. We found the dog lying in his outside kennel, with the Pit Bull in the inside kennel. We closed the slider to separate the two, and we again threw hotdog pieces on the floor of the kennel. This time, the dog started eating them immediately and while doing so, he moved closer to us. I coaxed him even closer and said, “Come on buddy. Come here, boy. Come closer.” He finally came up to the bars, and I was able to feed him some canned dog food using a fork. He picked up on how to eat from the fork immediately. I also gave him some liverwurst, and he really seemed to like that. He wasn’t quite ready to eat from our fingers, but he did slip once and ate one hotdog piece from my hand.

We fed the dog as much as he would eat, and by this time, he was lying up against the bars. I slowly reached in between the bars and gently stroked his forehead. He seemed to like it as he didn't pull away. I then reached in and scratched him behind his ear, and watched as he started closing his eyes. Again, he didn't pull away but left his head close enough to the bars so I could continue him behind his ear. Claudia joined in and we both sat for quite some time, reaching our fingers in between the bars and petting him wherever we could reach. Eventually though, it was closing time, and we had to leave. We felt we had crossed a milestone in just being able to touch the dog though.

As we walked towards the lobby, we stopped by kennel #60, which contained a black and white male Pit Bull. Both Claudia and I commented how cute he was as he had this little face with these three little wrinkles on each cheek, and it literally looked like he was smiling at you. When he wagged his tail, which was constantly while we were talking to him, his whole body wiggled! We let him lick our fingers and we petted him as much as we could between the bars. He was the sweetest thing, and we both commented how cute he was and how we wished we could take him home too. Little did we know ............

On the way home, I told Claudia that since I had been referring to the dog as “buddy” whenever I talked to him, I suggested we call him Buddy for now. She agreed and said that was a good idea.


Claudia went to the Humane Society and spoke to Mike who worked there. She explained the situation about the dog at the vacant business and our concerns about him and asked Mike if he could help her capture the dog. Mike said he would do what he could, but he first had to handle his calls before he could try to capture the dog. Claudia explained to Mike that he would probably have to use the come-along on the dog while he was sleeping as he wouldn’t let anybody approach or get near him. She told Mike he might even find the dog sleeping this morning if he went out to see him. Claudia also asked Mike if when he did capture the dog, he could deliver the dog to her home, but Mike told her by law, he had to take the dog to the Devore Animal Shelter. Claudia told him to put her name down as an interested party if he did take the dog to the shelter.

About an hour later, Mike called Claudia and told her he had captured the dog. He said he felt really bad because he did have to catch him when he was sleeping, and the dog was very upset and had put up quite a fight with the come-along. Mike indicated that the dog had injured his mouth badly on the come-along and warned Claudia that he didn‘t look good. He also told her he didn’t think the dog would be “adoptable” due to the aggressiveness he showed while on the come-along.

Claudia immediately called me, and we both went to the shelter on our lunch break, which was about an hour and a half after the dog had been taken there. While at the shelter, a vet tech named Brenda came out to meet us and walked us to the kennel where the dog was. We found the dog housed in kennel #88, and he was standing in his inside kennel, looking very scared and traumatized. We also noticed that the right side of his jaw was badly injured from him fighting with the come-along. We asked her about the injury to the dog’s mouth, and she indicated if it got swollen or looked as if it was getting infected, the dog would get treated by vet, who would probably be out the next day.

We talked softly to the dog, but he showed no sign of recognition towards us. He just stood back in the corner of his kennel, looking at us, and I'm sure wondering why his world had been turned upside down. We threw some hotdog pieces onto the floor of his kennel, but he showed no interest in eating them at this time. Brenda told us he would eat them later, after we left.

We talked with Brenda for a few minutes, and it was at this time that she explained to us that sometimes, these kinds of dogs come around within a couple days, and some dogs take longer. She then told us she had a dog similar to this one, and though it took a lot of time for him to come around, she had him for sixteen years, and he was the best dog she ever had. She explained that you just have to spend a lot of time with them and have patience and said she used to sit and just read to her dog to get him used to her voice and her presence. She said she thought that with time, our dog would come around too. We thanked her for her time and we headed back to work.

After work, we went back to the shelter to see the dog. He was still quite scared and would not approach us. We were concerned he wouldn’t be able to eat the dry dog food the shelter provided due to the injury to his mouth, so we brought more hotdogs for him. We threw some hotdog pieces onto the floor of his kennel; however, he still showed no interest in eating them at that time. We spent a few minutes, talking to him and assuring him that everything would be okay, and then we left.

As we walked through the front lobby on our way out, we stopped and talked with a Captain Brawley. We must have had a strange look on our face or something as he said, “Now, I know you’re both probably wondering how we can work here. We work here because we know we’re doing the right thing for some of these animals. The fate they would meet if they didn’t come here could be far worse than their coming here.” He spoke to us for about fifteen minutes, and at one point, he did say, “Now, even if this dog that you had brought here today, if it turns out that for some reason he isn’t adoptable or something, you can both know that you did the right thing though by having him brought here.” I replied, “Well, at least he won’t be hit by a car or have something done to him while living on the street.” He replied, “That’s absolutely right! You‘ll know that nothing bad happened to him.” We talked for a couple more minutes, and then Claudia and I left.

On the way home, I remember saying to Claudia, “I thought I would feel elated when he was caught and taken off the street. However, I don’t feel elated at all.” She replied that she didn’t either.