It is estimated that 3.1 million dogs enter United States shelters on an annual basis. Of those 3.1 million, nearly 1 million are euthanized. 40% of that figure are bully breeds.
With so many dogs entering shelters on an annual basis, it’s hard to imagine how many more are still living on the streets with no home or family to call their own. It’s a difficult figure to determine, because how do you truly estimate that number? Nonetheless, it is believed that 1.3 million dogs are strays, living on the streets at any given time. So when a stray dog is picked up by animal control, that is the best case scenario for the animal. Right? A dog once roaming the streets is assumed to be starving, potentially sick or injured, at risk of being hit by a car and maybe even a danger to the community. Now they have food to eat and a warm place to sleep. Best case scenario.
In theory, yes. Animal Care Services exist not only to help keep communities safe, but also to protect the welfare of the animals residing within those communities. But when you hear statistics like 1 million dogs are euthanized each year in shelters across the country, the immediate question that arises is… “Is this truly the best case scenario?” This isn’t an attack on animal care agencies, rather a conversation about a bigger issue that leaves the animals in their care vulnerable. It’s no surprise that most government agencies operate on very little funding. Animal Care Services are usually at the bottom of the list. The biggest reason for why so many dogs are euthanized each year is due to a lack of resources - a lack of funding, a lack of time, and a lack of manpower. This leads to overcrowding, and the end result is innocent lives lost.
But how do shelters decide which animals to euthanize? Most typically it’s time. The longer an animal sits in a shelter without anyone coming to claim, adopt or foster them, the less time they have. The sad reality however is that the more time an animal sits in a shelter, the more stressed and anxious they can become which can lead to a myriad of problems with their physical and mental health, which can shorten their time even further.
Such was the case with a beautiful girl named Sage. Sage was an American Pitbull Terrier who in 2011, was taken in as a stray by Chula Vista Animal Care Facility. She was a sweet girl who became a shelter favorite with at least one shelter volunteer named Elise Burd. Elise volunteered her time there 5 days a week and she became enamored with Sage. But in nearly 5 months, no one ever came for her. One day, Elise came to the shelter as she normally did, and couldn’t find Sage. She looked everywhere and for a brief moment felt a glimmer of joy at the thought that Sage had finally been adopted. The sad reality was that Sage had run out of time. Little by little, the spark that once filled Sage’s eyes dwindled as time went on. The shelter environment had broken her little spirit and she’d lost the softness she once had for other dogs.
This is not an uncommon story for dog’s euthanized within the shelter system. Shelters are a very stressful environment for the animals that reside within them and just like in people, stress and anxiety take a toll on the minds and bodies of animals. That stress can manifest itself in a variety of ways including a loss of appetite and sleep. It can lead to pacing and panting, overgrooming until bald spots appear, health issues and even behavioral problems. Sage may have developed some undesired behavioral issues that could have deemed her unsafe or unfit for adoption because of the length of time she was confined to a small kennel without enough social interaction, proper training, enough exercises; all of which are a part of a bigger issue that is tough to tackle without proper funding. Her life ended was a consequence of a broken system.
When Elise discovered what had happened to Sage she vowed in that moment to do whatever she had to ensure that Sage’s death wasn’t in vain. And so, Passion for Pitties was born.
Passion for Pitties is a 501(c)3 rescue organization located in Chula Vista, near San Diego, California that serves the animal community in Southern California. With Sage as their inspiration and motivation, they are dedicated to pulling dogs from overcrowded shelters before the shelter system has a chance to break their spirits. They believe any dog can be rehabilitated with positive training, reinforcement and a gentle hand and guidance. They advocate for bully breeds through education, events and fundraisers while saving as many lives as they can. As a fully volunteer and foster-based organization, every dollar that comes in goes directly towards the care of their animals and in the rescue world, no amount of money is too little. Please help us welcome Passion for Pitties as our rescue partner for March 2023 and shop with us all month long, where we’ll be donating 30% of our profits to this very worthy cause.