Well, it's hundreds of dogs really, but this is a story about just two: Dallas and Gus. Friends of Jacksonville Animals and Animal Care and Protective Services both go above and beyond the call of duty everyday in an effort to save and home shelter animals. These are just two examples of many wonderful stories.
Dallas is a sweet, happy, smart boy. When I first photographed him, I learned that first hand. I greeted him at the front of his cage like I do all my charges so I can get their names, and then I asked him to meet me at the back. His kennel was about halfway up the run so he couldn't really see where I was going, but as soon as I got around to the back of his kennel, there he was, sitting there wagging his tail and waiting on me. Problem was, Dallas is such a happy boy, he developed what the shelter staff call "Happy Tail." Happy Tail occurs when a dog is constantly wagging his tail in his kennel, beating it up again the sides. The staff was having to keep him sedated to keep him from wagging his tail so much and at one point it was so bad the staff had decided that he either had to be fostered or adopted or they were going to have to put him down to end his pain. But thanks to Dallas' super sweet disposition, they decided to pull him from adoptions and amputate his tail instead. He's now being fostered by one of the shelter staff until he's all healed up and ready for adoption. I know the family that adopts him will be one lucky family!
|Gus, photographed by Amy Ploss Samson|
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Gus. Gus was brought in as a stray. When he was brought to the shelter, unfortunately he knew exactly what was happening. As soon as they took him out of the car, he splayed himself out on the ground, trying so hard not to be taken into the shelter. He rolled over on his back wiggling his butt and wagging his tail, trying to show how lovable he was, but unfortunately, they kept trying to drag him in. Shelter staff and volunteers were watching and finally were so saddened by the scene that one of the staff walked out to the parking lot, picked up Gus, and carried him inside. Gus lay crouched in his kennel, refusing to come to anyone for several days. He was so sad and so scared. Shelter staff worked with him daily trying to coax him out but had no luck. After about a week, shelter staff and FOJA volunteers worked together to not only get him out of his kennel, but also get him into a foster home where he could feel safe. Gus is now being fostered by one of the FOJA board members and was last seen cuddling up on the couch with her granddaughter.
The city of Jacksonville is working hard to become a no-kill city, and Animal Care and Protective Services is a big part of that effort. It's really important to realize just how many animals come into ACPS every day. The shelter can easily bring in 300-500 animals a week some weeks. Because this is a city shelter, by law they must take every animal brought to them. Add in owner confiscations and cruelty cases, hoarding cases and strays, and I hope you can imagine the large number of animals they are charged with protecting every day. Support your local shelter. Make a visit down there. Find out what they need. If you can't adopt or foster, there are many other ways to help. Volunteer, donate, sponsor, like the FOJA and ACPS Facebook pages and share the needs, bring down bags of dog or cat food and blankets, whatever! There are so many ways to help! Your local shelter needs you. Dogs like Dallas and Gus depend on it.