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"Rescuing" dogs

Normally I wouldn't write this and risk embarrassing my neighbors, but this has happened to me twice during the past year, and I think it deserves a mention. Twice, recently, a neighbor of mine (different neighbors in both cases) approached me to talk about a stray dog they had found. In both cases, they thought the dog had belonged to someone, but since it didn't have a collar they couldn't locate the owner, so they called the police(!) and surrendered the dog to the local cops. And in both cases, these people actually thought they had done a good deed.

At first I was just flabbergasted that this would be their first instinct. But these were good people, who I'm sure thought they were doing the right thing. That's why I'm writing this. If there are two people in my neighborhood who made this same (well-meaning) mistake, then there must surely be many others out there. Please, people, think realistically for a minute about what will happen to the puppy after you hand him over to the cops. He is not going to hang around the police station, that's for sure.

The girl I spoke with this morning obviously had not given this matter much thought. When she learned that the police station couldn't keep them, she opined that perhaps the cops "released them" if they couldn't find an owner. Yeah, right. Sure they do. Please, people, I don't want to be mean here but use your brain for a minute, okay? What do you think happens to dogs that people call the cops on?

After talking with my neighbor this morning, I found that I couldn't get the dog off my mind all day at work. Against my better judgment, I finally called our town's police department to find out what happened to the dog. The lieutenant who answered the phone was very helpful, but the dog had, of course, already been shipped off to a "shelter." The cop gave me the number. I called.

The dog is in some high-kill shelter in Newark. I was prepared (again, against my better judgment) to go and bring it home with me, at least until such time as I could find it a proper home. I tried to describe the dog to the girl who answered the phone (at well as I could, since I'd never seen the dog myself, and only heard about it second hand.) She basically told me it would be impossible for her to locate the dog based on such a vague description, since they had over 300 animals on site at the time.

I pressed her for details about how much time the dog had left if no one claimed it. She was evasive, as these folks usually are, but said they were required by law to keep it for at least a week in case someone claimed it. "And after that?" I asked.

"Well, it all depends," she said.

"But technically, you could euthanize the dog on the eighth day?"

"Technically, but we probably wouldn't."

"You wouldn't?"

"Well, unless it was a pit bull."

Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!! Regular readers know how I feel about that.

Okay, I really don't want to prolong this soapboxing. I may be opinionated, but I really, really don't like telling other people what they should think or how they should behave. This time, however, I'll make an exception. If you find a stray dog and feel led to help it, then take it home and try to find the owner. If you're unwilling to do that, then at least do a tiny bit of research and take it to one of several great no-kill shelters in the area. And if you don't have the time or inclination to do that? Fine. It's not your problem. But then for Christ's sake, at least let the dog go about its business so that he stands a sporting chance, and you go about yours. Whatever you do, don't call the cops on it and then pat yourself on the back for doing a "rescue."

Okay. Enough. I'm done now.


This is good info. I dont consider myself stupid, but I would do exactly what your neighbors did. Call the cops! The idea would be that someone who is missing their dog might have called the cops and that way there would be some sort of coordination and the dog will be returned to the owners.

Did you ask the police when you called whether anyone called to report the dog missing? or whether they have a system like that?

Anyway, after reading this story, I realize it would be the wrong thing to do.

By the way, I think you can still retrieve the dog from the place in Newark. They MUST have a record based of the time and the police station the dog came from and combining it with the info from your neighbors, there is still a chance the dog can be identified?

Now I'm all sad about the poor puppies.

Sorry, K. I probably shouldn't have posted this.

Blue, I can't help but think you're right. I'm just going to try again and hope I get someone on the phone more knowledgeable than the first person I spoke with there.

So, what happened? Did you try to call them again?

Yes, and I'm a tiny bit more optimistic now. They won't release him to anyone for a week in case his owner looks for him. After that I should be able to go pick him up.

Wow. That's great news for the dog! If you eventually get the dog, you should post his pic here. He will be a "cynical nation-survivor".

That's so great!

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