Dog Blog

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Here's what I wrote to the County Board of Supervisors about the County Animal Shelter:

More often I speak for the animals through my books and my monthly column for Sacramento’s Inside Publications, Pets and Their People.  But I write to you now to beseech you to do everything within your power to keep the doors to the Sacramento County Animal Shelter open and retain the staff needed to operate it.  By so doing, you will be saving countless animals’ lives, spare workers their jobs, and keep the community safe from strays, which can transmit disease. 

What happens to all these animals if there is no shelter for them to be housed in and cared for when no one else will?  It is a potentially disastrous prospect that you and other county officials have not weighed carefully enough but must do so before your final decision on this vital issue.

I adopted quite a few dogs from the old Bradshaw Road facility, an antiquated, depressing lockdown which left much to be desired and at one time even sold pets to research labs to make ends meet. It was a horrifying prospect to think that a loving companion animal could be subjected to endless cruel experiments. One of the dogs I adopted there was a two-year-old basset hound named Bubba Gump.  I found my beautiful Bubba in 1997 on his last day before he was scheduled to be destroyed.  From that day forward, he enriched my life immeasurably and enjoyed a long and happy life with me to the age of 14, ancient for a basset. Bubba was my closest companion for all those years and inspired me to author theBeanie and Cruiser Mystery Series for dog lovers, which features a basset hound named Cruiser.

Without a county shelter to hold Bubba until I would be fortunate enough to find him, I’d never have been able to adopt this wonderful dog because he would have been needlessly killed and his life cut far too short.  Yet, this tragic scenario plays out every day in our community shelters, largely because there is not enough funding provided to educate the public about responsible pet ownership or enough space to house all the unwanted pets that result from that woeful ignorance. 

Have you ever observed the euthanasia of a perfectly healthy pet?  Perhaps everyone who is making these harsh decisions about our animals and community shelters (including our governor) should be required to spend one day in the shelter’s euthanasia room before taking a vote on the issue.  If they did, I suspect that they would not be so quick to axe the budget for the shelter.  There are so many others like Bubba at risk now at the beautiful new county shelter.  This state-of-the-art shelter should be preserved at all costs.  How much better it would have been for Bubba to be housed in a fine, modern shelter like this one.  He may not have developed kennel cough, which is rampant (along with other more deadly diseases) in antiquated, poorly managed shelters like the city shelter on Front Street, where I adopted a beautiful basset pup that died from distemper after two miserable weeks. 

Will you do what is needed to preserve this model shelter for our community and distinguish my hometown as a compassionate city that values life over basketball stadiums and downtown mall rejuvenation?  One that doesn’t needlessly destroy its companion animals?  Let Sacramento become a model community that makes the lives of its pets better and supports the people who care for them.  Surely, you and the other Sacramento County Supervisors can search your hearts and take the steps to ensure that the needed budget cuts come from other places, like unnecessary positions in your bloated hierarchy, inflated salaries, or programs that do not put the precious lives of people’s pets at risk.  I challenge you to look into the trusting eyes of just one of the devoted companion animals currently impounded at the county shelter, through no fault of its own, and ask yourself if you could be the one to inject death into its veins. If not, I hope you will reverse your decision to put thousands of healthy, adoptable animals at the sharp end of that syringe. 

Of course, pets can’t vote, so they are easy targets for the chopping block when budgets must be balanced and services cut.  But nothing (or no one) should have to die for you to accomplish that. There are not as many citizens who will speak out for these voiceless creatures, but we who care deeply about the welfare of animals can and do vote.  I assure you that we will remember at election time who helped the animals…and who did not.  Save Our Shelter!



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