By Jackie Kellum
This question comes up frequently, asked by both “newbies” and non-newbies to lakeside. Is there a SPCA here locally, like we had in the US or Canada? The answer is a firm: No! There is no local formal agency that handles animal pick-ups, nor is there a formal housing arrangement for dogs that might be picked up by good intentioned people who rescue a dog off the street.
That leads to the topic - What is a street dog? It can be defined as a dog who has probably lived and thrived to some degree on the street for a long time. They may have an owner, or not, but have spent most of their time on the loose. They may be thin, but not emaciated. They may have a limp or scars, but it’s from old injuries and they are not currently in acute pain. They may need grooming, but are not incapacitated from their condition. They are “street wise.”
Sometimes they become a group of dogs who spend time together. They also may have a territory they frequent, with places they go to eat, such as a house with kind people who put out kibble for them, or they stop by a store or restaurant that gives them food. Even if they have an owner, the dog frequently does not wear a collar. They are fairly knowledgeable about crossing streets. These dogs may or may not be spayed or neutered or vaccinated, most often not. If you wish to help a street dog, the easiest way to do this is to provide water and food. Do not “rescue” it and try to bring it to a shelter which is already at capacity –support its life where it lives.
That leads again to another question: Why are the shelters so full? There are many reasons for this situation. First, there are more animals looking for their forever home than there are adoptive homes. Until a dog or puppy is adopted from a shelter, generally another one cannot be taken in. If people do not adopt from a shelter and instead buy a dog or puppy of unknown heritage or health from a street hustler who produces these animals for profit only, one puppy or dog remains awaiting adoption at a shelter.
The Spay Neuter programs at Lakeside are making progress, and they do need our continued support, but there are still many unwanted puppies and kittens being born. Sometimes a person who has a good heart and good intentions ‘rescues’ a dog off the street that does not require rescuing, and after a period of time of keeping the animal, they want to bring it to a shelter. Frequently people who have a pet do not make a plan for the care of their pet in the event of their own demise or being incapacitated, and often times that animal is taken to a shelter, with the care cost to be absorbed by the shelter.
Sadly, people of many nationalities ‘dump’ animals on the street when they move away, cannot / do not want to care for them anymore, etc., and the animal will probably be brought to a shelter, again with the cost being covered by the shelter.
The next Anita’s Animals article in October will help explain the difference between a ‘street dog’ and a ‘dog in crisis’ that needs rescuing, how you can help and what responsibilities goes with this rescue action. Anita and her volunteers wish to thank those many Lakeside individuals who go about their daily life and without fanfare help animals.