On a sunny afternoon last week, I came across a furry little gent wandering around my neighborhood. It took a bit of coaxing, but the pup wasn’t too timid nor aggressive to be picked up. He wasn’t wearing a collar or any ID. I carried him around, approaching random folks and asking if he belonged to them or looked familiar, but he apparently didn’t have a home in the neighboring apartment building and there weren’t many people out and about on this weekday afternoon. After some time passed and it seemed like no one was concerned that he was missing, I made the tough decision to take him to the shelter (a no-kill establishment).
According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners. Most of these were identified with tags, tattoos, or microchips.
On the ride there, I started noticing things about the sweet little white dog: his nails were much too long, and dirty, his belly and his behind were both matted and filthy, his face could have used a good scrub, and his eyes weren’t just teary, they actually had a discolored mucus in their corners. Not only had someone been careless with this dog’s safety in this instance, having let him get out or get away, they weren’t taking very good care of him either. Thankfully, a follow-up phone call to the shelter brought good news that he had no serious health issues or behavioral problems. Hopefully he’d find his way into a good home, soon.
A few days ago, walking dogs in the same neighborhood, I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me when I saw the handmade posters offering a reward for a missing dog that matched the description of the fluffy refugee I’d found. My mind raced. How would I feel if my dog Evie were gone for even a moment, let alone overnight, or for days? I felt overwhelming sympathy for that poor owner’s aching heart, sick that I’d likely caused it. I called and left a ramblingly apologetic message: I’d picked up a dog of that description the week before after I tried to find his home without any success, and noted that it might not be theirs, but they should check the shelter. I provided the shelter’s ID number of the pup and the phone number to the place. I never received a phone call back from the poster.
I’ve tried not to be judgmental, maybe the owner was elderly, and very loving and doting, but the dog just got away. But the condition I found him in wasn’t how I’d let my dog live– and trust me, she goes too long without a manicure or getting her fur trimmed plenty, I’m no dog show mom here. I don’t know if the dog on the sign was the dog I’d held in my arms that day, but couldn’t those people have spared a moment to ease my mind one way or the other? So I can’t say that I necessarily hope he was returned to where he was, or if that happened. But I hope that the well-behaved tail-wagging wanderer I found that day has found a fur-ever home where he’s loved, and kept healthy, under a watchful eye. Good luck, little guy. — Casandra Armour