Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Can Get It For You Wholesale

You'd need a strong stomach to adopt a pet from the glorified dog pound I visited today.

Though I arrived less than an hour after what a sign on the front door declared the daily "cleaning time," the stench in the kennel was gagworthy.

Most of the tiny indoor runs had shit piles in them; some had many shit piles. There were no employees or volunteers in the kennel, but several occupied offices. Outside, where dogs are sometimes tethered -- shit strata.

And of course, there was the Wall of Sound, which is a feature of most kennels.

The two English shepherd boys I came to pull for National English Shepherd Rescue were friendly, good-natured, and smelled like Satan's jockstrap. Made for a memorable ride home. Their tiny shared run was one of the only clean ones; apparently, based on their deposits since being sprung, they'd been saving it up since they got there.

Now, I'm a woman who rakes a chicken coop each day, who processes whole tripes for her dogs to eat, who dresses and butchers her own deer, who has run on an ambulance, raised litters of puppies, eaten British institutional food. I am a woman with experience of stench.

The first thing I did with these two still-nameless dogs Ace and Gary was de-mat, comb, and bathe them. About three hours -- and they cooperated. Most do not. Especially most who have never seen a brush or a shampoo bottle in their lives, which is the case with these two boys.

Animal professionals often speak of the APO -- the Average Pet Owner. What he does and does not know, the skills he does or does not possess, what he is capable of doing, what he is willing to put up with.

I cannot imagine that 90% of the APOs out there could conceive of taking a shrieking, stir-crazy, filthy, shit-covered, urine-burned dog from one of those kennel runs and bringing it home to be a pet. In his house. Hell no.

Set aside that the dogs in this "shelter" come in untrained, unmannerly, and with unknown and unadmitted histories -- and leave it the same way. Their physical condition does not spell out "great pet" to a normal person, any more than a totalled automobile on a flatbed screams "your next sweet ride" to anyone other than the owner of a body shop. The atmosphere in the kennel is palpable, and I mean that literally. Bring your kids in there? I don't think so.

The stink of parvo feces at Petland is concealed by automatic air "fresheners." The puppies appear clean, are kept on "sanitary" wire and bathed frequently. There's a deli case to block odors. This is called marketing. It's how Hunte stays in business, and also why dog pounds do. Cogitate on it.

For an hour and a half of (unpaid) work per dog, I've determined scads about their temperaments (bombproof comes to mind), and made them already more adoptable. They no longer reek like a pair of old goats, they don't feel gritty/greasy to the touch, the biggest mats are gone. With some groceries, peace and quiet, and training, they will be very marketable. An average pet owner would be able to bring one into his home. He would choose such a dog over one from Petland, even.

The ones back at the "shelter?" Notsomuch. Dogs will die of neglect there. Not a lack of food or water. They'll die because the Powers reject the necessity of marketing their "products." They'll die because a potential adopter is too grossed out by the stench of commingled shit, piss, and despair to visit the "shelter." They'll die because Dad bugged out with little Jimmy when the decibel level got dangerous -- and there was no place to look at or meet the dogs except right there in the kennel. They'll die because the volunteer who should have been bathing them and teaching them to sit and shake hands couldn't take it anymore.

There are a lot of people in the "shelter industry" who roll their eyes at the notion that we could become a No-Kill Nation. Killing for cage space is inevitable in their reality. But they have created that reality themselves. Others are free to reject it, and create a better one -- one where the shit gets scooped, the dog gets a bath, and a thousand other "marketing details" get attended to, because each and every animal has value.


  1. double thumbs up
    I'm sure there are people who defend the staff and volunteers at "pounds" like this one.. donchano: they SOOOOOOOO hate to kill animals, but they "have" to. Don't blame them! It's those irresponsible backyard breeders and owners who make them kill animals.

  2. How did you get the smell out of their coats? I once pulled a lab cross who had been amusing himself with poop conditioner during his stay.

    Three baths later, and you could still smell him from outside, while you were in the house. I didn't try treating him like a skunk victim, though. My friend who adopted him said the odor faded a couple of weeks later. Good thing she had a fenced yard on a farm.

  3. As long as we're asking dog care questions, Heather, where are you getting all the rudiment feet you're feeding to your dogs (per your post on Dolitter)?

    Right now, Pepper gets a marrow bone from the grocery store where my cousin works about twice a month. She would love getting feet multiple times/week. I've tried to interest the Farmers' Market folks into smoking "parts" as a local butcher a couple of towns over does, but I guess it isn't cost-effective or they don't believe "others" are doing it. if you have a website for where you are getting this stuff, I'll pass it on to our Farmers' Market folks.


  4. R, I just bathed them in a cheap-ass deodorizing shampoo from a big box. They had a rank urine funk, and a general "kennel" funk, but had been scrupulously staying clear of their own feces, so that's something to be thankful for.

    It cut the stench nicely. I also hit them with a cheap spot-on flea killer (one with fast knockdown, which is all I should need this time of year, in a recently treated house). They still have a gross greasy streak down their backs, but it has a strong clove-oil odor that I like, and may be masking any residual pound funk.

    Dorene, I get sheep and goat feet when I can by going to the slaughterhouse (where I have a relationship with the owners), rolling up my sleeves, and digging around in the waste barrels for the feet of that day's critters.

    I would not recommend attempting to smoke these "parts."

  5. Excellent! Aside from marketing, wouldn't it be a nicer place to work if the animals were clean, got some attention, etc?

    How do those people sleep at night? I feel guilty because my little Griffon's coat is overdue for stripping and I keep putting it off.

  6. The people who run and staff this place should be locked into the kennels for a few days. In the kennels' current state. I freak if I don't clean the litter boxes three times a day.

  7. Heather, the folk at No Kill Nation emailed me, they want to feature this post on their site (picked it up from my blog).

    I don't have your email address.

    Could you email me at

    caveatnewsdesk @ hotmail dot com

    or contact Sue at

    info @ thenokillnation dot com



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