As I waited for my first ever media event to begin, I witnessed dog after dog being surrendered to the Lacy Street Shelter in downtown Los Angeles. One that really caught my eye was a mature all American mutt named Blanca who reminded me of the character in the children's book Harry the Dirty Dog. Originally published in 1956 then renewed in 1984, Harry is a white dog with black spots who loves everything except baths. One day before bath time, Harry runs away. Unfortunately for Blanca, whether she liked baths or not, her owner was giving her away.
She was about the size of a German shepherd with fluffy white fur, matted flat against her skinny frame. Her snow white color was broken up by contrasting black spots and her left back paw looked like it was covered by a single black sock. Like Harry, Blanca had small, pointy ears. Like a cartoon character, she pranced in the desired heel position with her owner, a middle aged Hispanic man who looked a little frightening with his tattoos, shaved head, ripped jeans and beaten up tennis shoes. In broken English, he told the attendant that his kids brought home a new puppy and he couldn't take care of two dogs. He was dropping Blanca off at the pound in exchange for a younger model.
He handed Blanca’s leash to the attendant, a strong looking middle aged man who appeared hardened from years of working at the shelter. The attendant's face was void of expression as he took Blanca’s leash; this was nothing new to him. Blanca struggled to get away from the attendant, practically pulling him off his feet as she headed backwards in the direction of her owner. He was walking out of the building without giving Blanca a second thought. The look of confusion and fear that crossed the dog’s face brought tears to my eyes. My heart ached for her.
As he walked away, I asked the attendant what happened to all the dogs surrendered to the facility.
With his back to me, not missing a step, he answered: “We keep them for as long as we can. If they don’t get adopted, they are put down,” his voice monotone from repeating this information over and over again. I knew my Blondie ended up at the pound that way. Blondie’s former owners surrendered her, after having her for five years, because they suddenly learned they were allergic to her fur. I only had her for five weeks and already we were completely bonded. The caviler way humans get rid of their pets did not make any sense to me what-so-ever.
I saw other owners drop off their pets that morning too. None of the people seemed as upset as I was. I didn’t see any tears in their eyes. There were no bitter sweet good byes to witness. No sense of remorse for sentencing these pets to possible death.