"I don't know if I have the right department, but maybe you can help me." That's how the call I took earlier today started. I get this type of call several times a week. Sometimes I am the right person for whatever reason it is the caller is contacting HAWS. Sometimes the caller needs to be transferred to the right department. And sometimes I'm the wrong person, but I still can be of help.
The caller today continued. "My neighbor had a puppy that she was going to take to the shelter, but I didn't want that to happen so I took him instead." She proceeded to tell me that she couldn't afford veterinary care for the puppy, and wanted to know if HAWS could recommend any low cost veterinarians in the area because the puppy needed a wellness check and vaccinations.
I told her that while HAWS provides low cost spay and neuter of pets for residents who are on some sort of government assistance, we don't provide veterinary services to the public beyond that. Additionally I wasn't able to recommend any vets who offered discounted services for low income pet owners. I was sorry I couldn't give her more help, but she thanked me for my time.
Unfortunately there is still a perception by some in the community that animals need to be saved from going to an animal shelter -- a fate thought to be a death sentence at worst, and a horrible, neglectful situation at best. This perception is left over from the days of the public pound -- where animals went after being picked up by the dog catcher and given days to live before being killed. The animal's stay at the public pound is one of terror with little attention or love given, and only the basic needs of food and water given.
While there are still some facilities that resemble this in the United States, most animal shelters are as far from this as possible. HAWS has worked very hard to make our facility a loving, welcoming place for both people and animals.
Had this caller not "saved" the puppy from the horrible fate of coming here to HAWS, he would have experienced the following.
He would have been checked for fleas, ticks, mites, and intestinal parasites and been treated for them. Our staff would have given him his first round of shots and one our veterinarians would have neutered him. If he had any health issues HAWS would have spent our time and resources treating him.
Once he'd gone through our behavior evaluation he would have been made available for our volunteers to spend time with him. The puppy would have gotten three or more walks a day as well as general cuddling sessions. Our Mod Squad would take him out of his kennel for training sessions as well, so that he could learn some basic manners before going to his new home.
Most likely he would have spent time with some of the kids that participate in our education programs. Additionally our front office staff would have brought him behind the front desk and spent time cuddling, playing and talking to him.
As a puppy he would have been very popular with adopters. He would be the most frequently viewed dog in our kennels, and very fast to find his new home. His stay at the shelter could have been as little as 4 days from start to finish.
It's a good thing the woman saved the puppy from coming to HAWS.