What’s a dog worth?
May 13, 2006 7:06 AM   Subscribe

What’s a dog worth? Los Angeles kills more animals in its shelters than any other metropolitan area in the United States. For that to change, we will have to figure out what to do with the pets none of us want.
posted by PenguinBukkake (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Everyone calls him Javi. He has been on the job for 15 years. “I like being around animals,” he says. Every morning, after clocking in at seven, he covers his ears with a padded headset, to block out the howls, and tours the kennels with his clipboard, which has been adorned with a smiley face. At each cage he pauses, tapping the bars. “Hi, doggies,” he says. In return he receives fierce snaps and desperate licks. Some dogs hog the attention, snarling at any cell mate that dares to horn in. Others cower in the corner, too defeated to even raise their heads. The list Lopez assembles, usually 10 to 20 dogs a day, consists mostly of pit bulls. “We’ll do this one,” he says, pointing to a barking Staffordshire. “We’ll hold off on this one,” he says about another. “This one, for sure…This one, most likely…This one, he’ll definitely go…I mean, they’re good-looking dogs, but nobody adopts them, unfortunately.”

In the past year Animal Services has tried to standardize its procedures, so that every dog gets one last shot at adoption before it is killed. The euth list is supposed to be completed by 9 a.m., then sent by e-mail blast to dozens of rescue groups that have registered with the city, giving them at least 24 hours to find an IP, or interested party. “It doesn’t actually mean it’s a death sentence,” Lopez says. “It’s just a possibility. Sometimes it helps in a way, to get attention.” Rescues, which are usually private, nonprofit corporations, play a complex—and occasionally disputed—role in the adoption process. Most perform a noble service. Every day they save forsaken dogs, often just minutes before the animals are scheduled to die. Some, however, exploit the system, using the shelters like thrift shops. They comb the kennels for prized breeds, adopt at reduced fees, then resell the dogs for hundreds of dollars. “It’s a business, believe it,” says Hill, the kennel boss.

posted by PenguinBukkake at 7:09 AM on May 13, 2006


Warning: one of the worst-designed web sites of all time. The above link didn't work; the best link I could find is this printer-friendly one, which will automatically pop up a print dialogue. Disable JavaScript before viewing, and then maybe email the editor and tell them to get a clue.
posted by nev at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2006


it calls for the immortal words of Bob:
"Help control the pet population. Have your pets spay or neutered."
posted by zenzizi at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2006


The above link didn't work

really? works for me, Windows XP and Firefox 1.5
posted by PenguinBukkake at 7:26 AM on May 13, 2006


I get a blank content frame in Firefox 1.5 and IE 6. Not your fault though, sometimes sites are coded badly.
posted by nev at 7:28 AM on May 13, 2006


Seriously - its not about what to do with the pets nobody wants, its about stopping them from being born in the first place. Ironic that LA (Bob's stomping grounds) is where the problem is worst.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2006


Can this issue somehow be related to solving the, "Millions of people die each year from starvation." problem?
posted by Balisong at 7:46 AM on May 13, 2006


The Washington DC Humane Society's already on it. Maybe LA should try the same.

(from Washington Post)

The Washington Humane Society has announced a five-year goal of eliminating euthanasia of adoptable animals brought to the D.C. shelter, potentially saving the lives of thousands of cats and dogs by finding homes for more of them and preventing unwanted births.

The organization's effort will include launching an aggressive campaign to encourage adoptions and expand spay/neuter clinics to shrink the surplus population of cats and dogs that end up in shelters.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:00 AM on May 13, 2006


I get a blank content frame in Firefox 1.5 and IE 6.

Fixed:

What’s a dog worth?

Original URL was truncated.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2006


A few years ago I read about a "shelter" in a city in a southern state (LA, I think) that was a giant pit in the ground with a metal door at the top and people could just drop their unwanted animals down the chute and forget about them forever. There was no food or anything down there. No workers (the city couldn't afford them). Just a giant hole in the ground where the animals could fight it out and eat each other until they died of thirst.

The photo with the article I saw was of a man holding a child as the kid dropped a puppy into the chute. What a country!

And I also get an empty content frame.
posted by dobbs at 8:03 AM on May 13, 2006


Fixed:

thanks! and sorry for the mistake.
[please don't euthanize me]
posted by PenguinBukkake at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2006


...what to do with the pets none of us want?

Feed them to other pets?

I'm being serious. The meaty leftovers from livestock that go to make pet food are pretty grisly. Why not do for pets what we did for cows? Close the feeding loop, let the most adorable survive. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Next up, BSE for kitties, I guess.
posted by anthill at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2006


Feed them to other pets?

I'm being serious. The meaty leftovers from livestock that go to make pet food are pretty grisly. Why not do for pets what we did for cows? Close the feeding loop, let the most adorable survive. Out of sight, out of mind, right?


Its already happening.

posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2006


Why not do for pets what we did for cows?

Soylent Green is pets!
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:31 AM on May 13, 2006


Pets or meat?
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2006


Possibe slogan:

Spay Your Fucking Pets.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:44 AM on May 13, 2006


I thought it was common knowledge that commercial pet food had been found to contain euthanized animals. I feed my dog one of the fancy "natural" brands, but I'm not foolish enough to think that this eliminates the possibility.
posted by nev at 8:50 AM on May 13, 2006


This problem will never go away. The only half-way decent solution would be to have federally mandated spay/neuter requirements for everyone except licensed, regulated breeders. It would destroy the backyard-breeder "industry," and all the but-I-want-my-baby-to-have-babies pet owners would be up in arms.
posted by MrZero at 9:05 AM on May 13, 2006


A vet-tech friend of mine says you're not supposed to even bury your euthanized pets because the chemical cocktail used to kill them is so toxic.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2006


send them to purity balls.
posted by quonsar at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2006


arf!
posted by trondant at 10:07 AM on May 13, 2006


A vet-tech friend of mine says you're not supposed to even bury your euthanized pets because the chemical cocktail used to kill them is so toxic.

It's just an overdose of surgical anaesthetic. The lethal levels in the carcass can poison anything that eats it though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:14 AM on May 13, 2006


Chilling article.

I've got to say, I'd rather own a pitbull than a Pekignese, but that's just me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2006


It's a sad article, but there is a little too much anthropomorphising - the author assumes the dogs understand that they are going to die and struggle. How could they? They don't see other dogs die -- no, they are just struggling against being held and having a needle.

This isn't an argument that lots of animals dying is a good thing - and everyone should neuter or spay their pets. But at the same time, these animals are cared for, and given a painless death. It's more than some humans have.

As for the people protesting? Why don't they get up and raise money to support the animals? Why don't they trudge about trying to find families?
posted by jb at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2006


What’s a dog worth?
About $1.50 a lb, but I guess it depends on supply vs demand, let the market figure itself out.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:48 AM on May 13, 2006


As for the people protesting? Why don't they get up and raise money to support the animals? Why don't they trudge about trying to find families?

You'll find the answer in the foster parent applications of all the anti-choice protestors in this country, and the animal rights activists who all became organic farmers, and the anti-nuclear groups who approved setting up offshore windfarms across their pristine view of Cape Cod. In other words, there's an inherent nature in humans to be outraged at the fact that someone else isn't improving their lives for them.

What makes this shit all so infuriating is that this isn't like a war or a famine or some global nightmare- it's one of those simple things that can be solved if adults just bit the bullet and acted like fucking intelligent person. Just don't buy a rare breed from a puppy mill. Just don't buy a diamond from DeBeers. Just don't buy products from companies that test on animals. Just don't get the fucking Hummer.

It's infuriating that we a species can actually change the world in thousands of ways by not doing something and even that we fuck up on a daily basis.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2006


I've got to say, I'd rather own a pitbull than a Pekignese, but that's just me.

Yeah, me too unfortunately (rant alert: my wife works in a shelter), pit bulls are constantly being raised in bunches by psychotic assholes who torture them until they are irredemably vicious. The shelter my wife works in refuses to euthinize for space, but still they have to put down way too many pitbulls.

Bastards who breed fighting dogs need to be subject to hefty penalties and jailtime.

(The shelter my wife works at is PAWS, and it's really awsome.)
posted by lumpenprole at 10:54 AM on May 13, 2006


the author assumes the dogs understand that they are going to die and struggle. How could they? They don't see other dogs die

And you assume they don't. Animals aren't stupid. Dogs, especially, can pick up on all kinds of things that you don't notice, can't hear or smell.

You may want to read this terrific book.

Bastards who breed fighting dogs need to be subject to hefty penalties and jailtime.

Fuck jail and fines. Euthanize 'em or throw 'em in a pit to fight to the death.
posted by dobbs at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2006


Microsoft JET Database Engine error '80004005'

Unspecified error

/ME2/Apps/CPTraffic/core.asp, line 168


Just me?

The onus is obviously on dog owners. 1) adopt these death-sentenced dogs; or 2) get better animal birth control. The rest of us are likely OK with killing them.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:39 AM on May 13, 2006


obviously what we need is better abstinance education programs for these animals.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2006


also mrgrimm - not just you.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:45 AM on May 13, 2006


A tribe I was photographing in the Luzon Mountains of the Philippine Islands back in 1969 connected a man's macho to his ability to eat. Eating and sex was a big deal, you see, with the Bontoc and Igorote tribes of the area.

If offered something to eat, the advice was to eat with gusto. After a week in the area, myself and another photographer were offered a meal by our local guide. This was quite an honor we assumed and accepted.

We stopped at a Baguio City tin-roofed house, and our guide announced in loud and broken English that he wished to feed his American friends. Neighbors acted impressed, and we knew we were being tested.

Sitting at an outside patio table, we were brought an enormous wooden platter of meat. The plate was about 10 inches wide and 18 inches long. I wondered if all three of us could possible eat so much. I was in my twenties, normally ate like a horse, and was more than willing to prove my manly worth. To my surprise, the woman placed the wooden platter in front of me. Unbelievably, she placed equally heaping platters next to the other men.

I tore into the eight inch-high meat pile as a jackal plunges into the soft underbelly of Serengeti zebra. The other photographer and our native guide did the same. I ate until my stomach ached. I feared I might vomit, perhaps committing an unforgivable insult to the tribe noted for ceremonial headhunting.

The meat, however, tasted good enough. There was a Texas barbeque, sloppy Joe flavor, and the mystery meat had sort of a stringy stewed texture.

I looked for excuses to slow down the meal a bit, and began asking what animal had supplied the delicious meat. I assumed it was one of the water buffalo-like beasts used to plow the local rice patties.

When I pointed to one in a nearby field and asked, our guide said no and indicated he couldn’t remember the word in English. He said the same about passing pigs, chickens, and seemed to rack his brain for the English word. His word for the meat sounded like polutian.

Rain began to pound the tin roof, and an old bitch hound with sagging teats joined us for shelter. The smell of wet dog brought her to my attention, and I said something about the awful dog aroma. Our guides face lit up, “That’s it! Dog, this is dog. Do you like it?”

I had already eaten about half a pit bull, and felt I could bust. The mouthful I held at that moment seemed to expand to the size of a puppy. The other photographer put down his fork, and said he couldn’t eat a dog. He already had.

Our host continued eating with gusto. I continued eating too, but the meat's flavor now was spiced with wet dog hair. Somehow I managed to finish.

When the Native Filipino noticed the other man wasn’t eating, he was greatly insulted, and mocked him for his lack of manliness. “Perhaps, I should eat your food,” he smirked as if to imply he should also tend his wife for him. He took his meat and shared it with me, as if to return the insult.


“I’m still hungry,” he said after we finished the massive feast. He looked to me with dismissive head gesture toward my wimpy traveling companion. He asked the women of the house for more meat to demonstrate his masculinity.

We ate the rest of the old bitch’s litter that day, and the warrior and I remained great friends until we returned to Manila. From that moment on, he never spoke or even looked in the direction of the impotent girly one who wasn’t man enough to eat much dog.

I live just south of Los Angeles, where they kill all those dogs. Is this a fast food opportunity, or am I missing something?
posted by BillyElmore at 11:52 AM on May 13, 2006 [3 favorites]


Different places use different ways to kill excess dogs and cats. 30 years ago here in Portland, the Humane Society used a depressurization chamber. (I have no idea what they use now.) The animals died of anoxia. There may have been fear, but there wouldn't have been any pain; the animal eventually blacks out and never wakes up.

I think that their reason for using it was not only because it was cheaper, but also because it caused the animals less pain (no "last injection"). But it would also have been slow, so maybe that's a strike against it.

A modern equivalent would be a nitrogen chamber: put the animals inside and then flush the chamber with pure nitrogen and wait for them to suffocate. But nitrogen is relatively expensive. The only operational cost for a depressurization chamber is electricity.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:57 AM on May 13, 2006


I also fail to see a problem, but then I don't like to keep animals as pets. I would much rather have these extra animals killed professionally than have them roam the streets of LA in large packs.

If LA was infested with packs of stray dogs, gang violence would probably be quaint and trivial by comparison.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:02 PM on May 13, 2006


A few years ago I read about a "shelter" in a city in a southern state (LA, I think) that was a giant pit in the ground with a metal door at the top and people could just drop their unwanted animals down the chute and forget about them forever.

This may be a bit exaggerated (a chute into a hole in the ground?) but yes, there are live animal drop box facilities -- one of them is in Oakland.

These dog lovers think they're better than nothing.

And sometimes people drop animals into delivery boxes.
posted by dhartung at 12:12 PM on May 13, 2006


Of course I think spaying and neutering is the biggest answer to this problem and wish that it would be manditory for pet animals. But I also think that the people that abandon their pets because they've become inconvient should be banned from owning pet every again.

Our local shelter puts the reason the dog was surrendered on the cages, and I am always amazed at the callousness humans show towards the animals that want nothing better to do than love and be loved by their owners. The worst I saw was "Son went off to college" on a 10 year old golden retriever. It spent its entire life with its family and now was abandoned with little or no hope of adoption in its senior years.

People are cold, heartless bastards. But I guess we knew that already.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:38 PM on May 13, 2006


Death Row Dog Rescue is a group that's trying to do something about this problem in Georgia, which has a very high euthanization rate - and many shelters use the gas chambers to do the job. They pull dogs from shelters, get them vetted, spayed/neutered (if needed), arrange for boarding and transport to rescues/foster homes. Since DRDR was formed last September (originally started to help Katrina animals), they've rescued around 900 dogs and several cats. There is a good article about them here.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:30 PM on May 13, 2006


The Washington Humane Society has announced a five-year goal of eliminating euthanasia of adoptable animals brought to the D.C. shelter

Except that most pit bulls are NOt adoptable. People don't want 'em.

I think only allowing registered breeders to breed pets is an awful idea, puppy mills are responsible for just as many if not more abandoned pets than acciental breedings and thsoe dogs are all registered. I also would likely never buy a purebred dog of a popular breed s due to the numerous known and devastating health problems in the limited populations. None of my mutts, all of which came from accidental breedings, have ever had hotspots or hip dysplasia, personaltiy problems or food allergies, thank you very much.
posted by fshgrl at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2006


I volunteered at an animal shelter here about 10 years ago. I didn't last long. I saw people bring in family pets to be adopted, but I knew the adoption rates were less than 25% for any animal brought there. I also knew what BS reasons they were dumping their pets off for. I cared for these dogs in what ended up for some as the last few days of their lives and it was hard. I haven't been there in a while, but the benefits of adopting from them were that they neutered/spayed all animals for free before letting them leave the builidng with them and provided free veterinary care for any problems the dog had at adoption. I ended up adopting my dog from them. A fear biting pointer mix that was found abandoned in a box on Brentwood Blvd. He's a little shit, but he's my little shit.
posted by pieoverdone at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2006


This may be a bit exaggerated (a chute into a hole in the ground?)

Nope, that wasn't exagerated. The only detail which I'm foggy on is the state, but I do believe it was LA. It was definitely a chute to a hole/pit.
posted by dobbs at 2:37 PM on May 13, 2006


The worst I saw was "Son went off to college" on a 10 year old golden retriever. It spent its entire life with its family and now was abandoned with little or no hope of adoption in its senior years

At least that dog had 10 good years. The worst I've ever seen is my neighbor across the street. She's working on her third puppy in so many years. They live on a chain in the yard, and when the chain breaks and the dogs run off, she just gets another puppy. She told me that she found her chow (her first dog) at the animal shelter but the $95.00 fine was too much. Puppies can be had for free.

And pit bulls in the Raleigh area are insane. Every few months the paper will report a dog fighting ring has been broken up and 3 or 4 hundred dogs are confiscated. And then the humane society must keep these worthless, unadaptable dogs alive until the owners are tried for running a dog fighting ring, which can take a year or more. Which in turn means other dogs which could be adopted have to be put down in order to make room. The local shelters also must bear the financial burden of caring for these dogs without getting any help from the state.

I was taking my bulldog for a walk a few weeks ago and was approached by a man who was working at a construction site. He asked me if I would like to adopt another English/boxer mix. His friend had three dogs and couldn't afford the food bills. And he himself couldn't take another dog because he had 22 pit bulls.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:38 PM on May 13, 2006


Isn't there no such thing as an actual 'Pit Bull'? That what most people refer to ass pit bulls are usually Staffordshire or Boxer mixes? The people next door have one of these alleged 'Pit Bulls'. He's barky as all get out, and I asked Igor if he was friendly and he said not to chance it, but is it the breed or how people treat the breed? The neighbor's dog seems to have it pretty good. Of course, I don't know what goes on in the house, but he seems happy enough with his dog door and fenced yard.
posted by pieoverdone at 3:41 PM on May 13, 2006


This is so upseting. I need to go look at stuff on cats again.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:47 PM on May 13, 2006


Since LA is always sucking power from all over the west to feed the production of endless crappy albums, movies, and TV shows, maybe we could just install a bunch of treadmills and have the unwanted animals generate precious power.
posted by Sukiari at 3:54 PM on May 13, 2006


[fixed the fpp link]
posted by jessamyn at 4:28 PM on May 13, 2006


Of course I think spaying and neutering is the biggest answer to this problem and wish that it would be manditory for pet animals.

That seems excessive. If you keep your pet under control -- inside and supervised when outside -- it's very unlikely to either knock up or be knocked up. The problem is really that so many people exercise little or no control over their pets, allowing them to roam or leaving them chained up where other dogs have access to them.

I also would likely never buy a purebred dog of a popular breed s due to the numerous known and devastating health problems in the limited populations.

A better idea would be never to buy a dog from someone who wasn't a careful, ethical breeder. If the dogs have all passed their relevant health clearances and the ancestors back N generations have been clear of problems, etc, a puppy will be a good bet. But most breeders are neither careful nor ethical.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:13 PM on May 13, 2006


(that's buy a dog as opposed to adopt from a shelter)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:14 PM on May 13, 2006


Isn't there no such thing as an actual 'Pit Bull'?

There is such a thing. It's the American Pit Bull Terrier. Obviously they're closely related to Staffies.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:16 PM on May 13, 2006


The worst I saw was "Son went off to college" on a 10 year old golden retriever. It spent its entire life with its family and now was abandoned with little or no hope of adoption in its senior years

I was thinking of how devastated their son would be to find their family pet gone when he got back from college in the vacation. My cat got very ill after I went away to graduate school and my mom had to put her down - she was 18, but it still hurt so much. I never got to say goodbye.
posted by jb at 6:03 PM on May 13, 2006


"Isn't there no such thing as an actual 'Pit Bull'?"

Any dog with locking jaws and poor impulse control counts as a pitbull in my book.
posted by Sukiari at 6:07 PM on May 13, 2006


By that definition, no dogs anywhere on Earth are pit bulls -- no dogs, anywhere, of any breed, have jaws that lock. All pit bulls have are large jaw muscles and strong will.

Unless some idiot has surgically grafted some sort of locking mechanism to a dog, anyway. Then you might have a dog with locking jaws. Better to attach a frickin' laser beam to its head if you ask me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:04 PM on May 13, 2006


Just this morning I saw a moving and disturbing photo-story about a Mexican approach to this very topic. They pretty much electrocute all the dogs straight away and haul them off to the dump. Warning: Graphic. A Dog's Life, by Gerardo Gonzalez.
posted by cogat at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2006


Soylent Bark.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:12 PM on May 13, 2006


Any dog with locking jaws and poor impulse control counts as a pitbull in my book.

That makes you pretty fucking stupid in my book because Pit Bulls have excellent impulse control and there's no such thing as a dog with locking jaws.
posted by dobbs at 6:56 AM on May 14, 2006



That seems excessive. If you keep your pet under control -- inside and supervised when outside -- it's very unlikely to either knock up or be knocked up. The problem is really that so many people exercise little or no control over their pets, allowing them to roam or leaving them chained up where other dogs have access to them.


It certainly does seem excessive. But so is the millions of animals put to sleep each year because people do exactly the things you describe they shouldn't.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:35 PM on May 14, 2006


I've been applying to adopt a dog in Massachusetts for about a year. I live in a tenant-at-will apartment, so they won't give me one. My situation is such that I rent from a friend, his elderly aunt lives downstairs and I look after her, and she would love to have the companionship of a dog during the day when I'm at work. But I can't have one. Maybe these people should advertise in other states. I'd be happy to pay the transportation fee for a long-life friend. I don't want to buy one from a breeder, because that's a waste. I want a nice, friendly pooch, I don't care what it looks like, just that he's in my lap in the evenings when I'm watching TV, and an inspiration to get me up early in the mornings for the morning pee! I guess I should post this comment on MeTa, too. Just thought of that. But shouldn't it be much easier to adopt a friend than donate money?
posted by WaterSprite at 5:18 PM on May 16, 2006


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