Lily RIP – We Can’t Save Them All

RIP Lily – A Warning About “Rescues”

Lily was killed at the West LA Shelter on May 13, 2015.

Lily arrived at the shelter last summer as a stray. From the start it seemed like it was going to be hard to find her a home. She definitely wasn’t trained. She paid little attention to people, and when in the shelter yard she just ran around the yard perimeter, overstimulated by the shelters sounds, sights and smells, seemingly looking for dogs. The kiss of death for shelter dogs is not paying attention to people.

In my volunteer work, I usually focus on one or a few challenging dogs at a time whose chances at adoption will improve with training. And, I just want to make life in the shelter more bearable — its a noisy, stressful place. So I started working with Lily.

Lily was great! In just a few sessions she was doing sits, downs, and making great eye contact — paying attention to me

and showing that she would connect with people. Plus, she was relaxing in the volunteer- office crate with a bone, which is useful when a dog goes to a new home. When we walked outside of the shelter nothing phased her — not bikes, or skateboards, or kids. You could take a bone out of her mouth without concern. I gave her a bath to soothe a rash she got from the kennel cleaning chemicals — she was so happy and easy to handle. She loved touch and petting. Though she could get energized with puppy-like zoomies sometimes, she also learned to quiet down. With all that she wiggled her way into my heart. But we still had a challenge — seeing how she got along with other dogs.

Good rescues, and adopters too, want to see that a dog has social skills. Little by little, the other volunteers, staff and I were getting Lily ready for that chance. I must admit, Lily was so focused on other dogs that I, too, took extra precaution. I taught her wear to comfortably wear a muzzle so that when the moment came for her to meet other dogs in the shelter yard no one need worry. After months of working with Lily, I thought she would do fine with other dogs once she was able to join doggie play group. The last time I was out with her in the shelter yard, Lily watched other dogs in the yard, dropped her attention from the other dogs and came back to me, and went about her business sniffing, walking training, and getting tummy rubs. With her interest in people and her trainability, Lily’s chance at a new life seemed just around the corner.her

Then, on May 12, while I was visiting my mother out of town, a supposed “rescuer” dumped 27 dogs at the shelter The shelter followed policy and took them — and the result was horrible. There wasn’t enough space for all of the dogs. So Lily, and two other long term pitbulls, Beau and Milo, were killed. Volunteers raised a stink about the rescue — dumping dogs like this is not good or typical rescue behavior. Apparently LA officials knew about this supposed rescue because of previous issues (700 dogs dumped I am told), and so since then, that “rescue” has been barred from bringing dogs to the LA Shelters. At least Lily, Beau and Milo’s demise brought about some good change.

As I shelter volunteer, I know dogs will be put down. Lily wasn’t the first of the shelter dogs I worked with to be sent across the rainbow bridge. I don’t blame the people who euthanized Lily, either. She had been at the shelter a very long time, and it’s not a good life. Her dog skills were still in question. I know that people don’t want to adopt a dog that may be challenging. But, still each and every time a dog is abandoned to the shelter and killed, its sad.

Nonetheless, I go back to the shelter happy for the dogs that make it out and their new families, and emboldened to change whatever it is that causes so many dogs to be abandoned by their owners and killed.

RIP Lily, little friend.

About Laurene

Laurene von Klan is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer serving West Los Angeles
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