I found a dog while driving home today. Meet Mr. Smiley-Bob:
You know what pisses me off? That this is so flipping common in my neighborhood. I love Oakland, and even more, I love East Oakland. I have mad love for where I live. But the pit bull problem? It makes me so mad I get those choked hot tears stuck in the back of my throat.
Mr. Smiley-Bob here had his ribs sticking out of his chest. It's hard to tell because he has the unneutered male's broad head, but this guy was skin over clackety bones. I yanked the car to the side of the road because I'd never seen the bones in a dog's tail before. He barely noticed me coming up to him, he was so busy trying to jaw a chicken bone out of a grate in the gutter.
And you know what he did when a stranger came right up to him? When I said "Hey, boy, what's goin' on here?" He collapsed against me in joy. Tail whap-whap-whapping. Gave up trying for the chicken bone in favor of getting his head scratched. He had a nice heavy leather collar on WHICH MEANS HE HAD A HOME at one point, goddammit, but no tags. And I pray to god he doesn't have a microchip because the rat-bastard who would starve and/or abandon a dog like that doesn't deserve to get such a sweet boy back. Also, I would like to punch that guy in the nuts. Twice.
I opened my car door, and the dog jumped in. Oh, joy! I put the window down a bit, O frabjous day! I brought him the few blocks home with me and gave him a big bowl of water and dog food, THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD! Tail still whap-whap-whapping, his head pushing under my armpit just to get a little more cuddle.
I loaded him back in the car to take him to the shelter (legally, we're at the dog limit for Oakland residents, as well as also being at our house and financial limit, too). The Oakland shelter does a great job — that's where Clara came from (via the SPCA).
But you know what else? They have no money. Just like everything else in our city — schools, public services, roads — they can't do much with no cash. And on Fridays the shelter closes at 4pm. I got there at 4:30.
Oh, nuh-uh. I couldn't bring the dog into our home — Clementine is the best people dog ever but doesn't appreciate other dogs (besides ours) in her house. The outside one-way dropboxes were closed and locked. No one was answering the phone (well, they never answer the phone).
So you know what I did? (Did I mention I was in a mood?) I hopped their locked fence. I said a chipper hello to some startled people working with a dog outside. I waited until a volunteer opened the door to leave and I literally stuck my boot in to wedge it open. "Hi! I have a dog!"
"Well, we're closed."
"OKAY I DON'T CARE I HAVE A DOG."
The volunteer turned his head to talk to the shelter officer. "Are we taking any more dogs?"
"HE'S IN MY CAR AND I'M DROPPING HIM OFF. Would you like to help me open the fence, or should I carry him over?"
The officer just shook her head and followed me to her car.
See, the Oakland shelter partners with the nationally acclaimed pit rescue Bad Rap, which is honestly one of the best adoptions organizations out there. Take a look at some of their Happy Endings — the photos are amazing. This boy will find a safe, loving home, I absolutely know it. He had me laughing during the whole drive.
His ears fly back like this all the time! This was him just chillin'!
Jumping backward in time for a moment, as I was trying to get into the shelter, the gate opened as a car drove out. The minivan driver rolled her window down. I said, "I found a dog!" She said, "What kind?" I said, "The sweetest pit bull ever." She wrinkled her nose and said, "No way," before speeding up.
You know what, lady? Bite me. Thank you for opening the gate I couldn't get through (oops! your bad!) for me, but otherwise, can it. We own a pit bull who would only like to rapturously lean you to death. Many of our neighbors and friends have wonderful, loving pit bulls. (Yes, occasionally pit bulls do bad things. So do Golden Retrievers (of all my 911 dog-bite calls, the Goldens have been the worst calls). And Rotts. And Dalmations. And, and, and — the list goes on. Almost any dog trained to be bad will be bad. Almost any dog who is loved (and well-trained) will be loving. There.)
But people keep throwing these dogs away, like they're trash. At the shelter, by the dropboxes, was a plastic bag with a dead pit bull in it. How's that for awful?
Remember when Lala found Bart? He was a pit that had been thrown out (literally) on the side of the road. He lay with a dead puppy pit bull, but he wasn't quite dead yet. He couldn't move or stand, and was only a skeleton covered in skin, but instead of taking the treat Lala offered him, he just wanted her to pet him (he had a lovely storybook ending — the director of the SPCA kept him in his office until he was well, and eventually, when he was fat and happy, they let him live with a man in Danville where he probably eats steak dinners every night).
It is not the city's fault. It is not the fault of breed (good god, after the pit bulls I've gotten to know in the last few years, I don't ever want another kind of dog. There has never been a more loving dog than Clementine in the history of the world).
Until the city finds the money for more services and more education, we're going to keep finding pit bulls in the trash. And I bet this is the case in many, many poor cities.
And it's making me ill, and sad, and still, I have hope that Mr. Smiley-Bob will find a wonderful home, because that dog is the BOMB, yo. He needs a home. He's young (maybe a year?) and very strong aand has a heart the size of a taco truck. I wish we could have him. But if we can't, I hope I see that guy at the dog park soon, carrying his favorite squeak toy.
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