I am not a pet person. (I’ve mentioned this fact on a number of previous occasions in this space — here and here, for example). Today, however, I almost wish I were. You see, our county animal shelter is full.
I’m not exaggerating here. The Bradshaw Road facility out near Highway 50 is usually pretty close to capacity (they chalk it up to a combination of overpopulation due to a failure to spay/neuter and the general public attitude that cats and dogs are disposable). But this is different. They are full. No vacancy. No room at the inn. Can’t take any more no matter how desperate the situation. Nowhere to put any kitty or puppy that shows up at the door.
How can I adequately explain how desperate the situation is? At the beginning of December, the shelter’s occupancy level was labeled “extremely full.” This week, however, the Sacramento Bee reported that a local animal advocacy group posted the following on Facebook: “The shelter is beyond capacity. There is NO MORE ROOM!”
Because I am a hopelessly sappy sucker, I’d actually consider adopting one of these critters if I didn’t live in a place where no pets are allowed (except for the landlord’s pets — more about that later this weekend). I’m lucky to have something to save me (and the poor dog or cat who got stuck with me) from my own folly.
Arthur and Ophia, two of the pit bulls currently available for adoption at the Sacramento County animal shelter.
I suspect that one of the reasons for the shelter being overflowing is that most of the dogs currently up for adoption are pit bulls. Like German shepherds and labs, these dogs are big guys. This means that they demand a lot of the shelter’s resources. Also, they’re harder than a lot of breeds to adopt. They eat a lot, they poop a lot, and they need a lot of space to run around in. You probably shouldn’t have a pit bull if you live in a one-bedroom apartment. Also, well, pits have a bad rep. Some people are afraid to have them around babies and little kids. And every so often, you read a story in the news about some unfortunate who was mauled to death by his or her own pit bull. There are plenty of people out there who love this breed, but pits are clearly not for everyone.
Then there are the cats. This evening, I’m seeing 62 of them on the shelter’s website. Six of those were recently adopted. This is as opposed to 17 of the shelter’s 74 dogs having been recently adopted. More than a few of the available felines are labeled as “barn cats,” which I suppose is an appeal to those who have mice to get rid of. Then again, I suppose “barn cat” is a not-so-subtle hint that this is not a cute, cuddly kitty who is going to curl up in your lap and purr while you’re watching Netflix.
Oh, I should mention that there are also three rabbits and four chickens up for adoption at the shelter. No goldfish, turtles, hamsters or snakes, apparently.
It’s no surprise that the adoptable chickens are not the egg-laying hens that everyone wants. No siree, they’re loud, obnoxious, pugilistic roosters. We’ve got plenty in our neighborhood, some of which have a predilection for crowing in the middle of the night. My guess is that if these guys ever get adopted, they’ll go straight in the pot with a bunch of carrots and onions. I see them for sale all the time in cages by the Mexican butcher shop at the corner of Main and Rio Linda Boulevard. I can only hope that they don’t end up forced into illegal cockfighting, a fate arguably worse than being served up next to the mashed potatoes. As for the rabbits, they need to hold on for another three months or so until they’re in demand as Easter gifts. Otherwise, they may well meet the same fate as the roosters.
I have to wonder how many of the shelter dogs and cats will end up murdered — I mean “euthanized.” As if I had to mention it. You know what euthanized is a euphemism for. Back in school, I learned that “euthanize” is from the Greek for “good death.” But you know that half of what you learn in school is propaganda and lies. I was well into adulthood before I learned that the correct translation of the Greek is “couldn’t get adopted.”
Some have registered surprise that an animal lover such as myself doesn’t have pets. I mean, since I’m vegan and all. And especially since I don’t have kids. (As if pets can substitute for children. People are so dumb.)
Honestly, I can understand why more people don’t adopt dogs and cats. They’re a lot of work, they cost a lot of money, and then they die on you. I had to laugh this week when I read an article about a dog that helped save a fat man’s life. This guy weighed 340 pounds, was taking 15 different medications, and all efforts at weight loss had failed him. He hurt all over and tried not to move any more than he had to. (I weigh more than that. You’re not telling me anything I don’t know.) Apparently, he was spurred into action by an embarrassing moment when a plane he was on had to be delayed while they found a seatbelt extender large enough to fit him. Haha! I’ve got that one all figured out. I don’t fly. Oh, this guy had to travel for his job. So do I. Luckily for me, my employer insists on using the discount carrier Southwest, which has a rule that fat people have to buy two seats. Score! Now it’s cheaper for me to drive than to fly. I’ll be laughing at my destination while the others are waiting hours to get through the TSA line.
So then this guy makes an appointment with a naturopathic doctor, who tells him to switch to a plant-based diet. Again, haha! Plant-based diets are certainly gaining popularity; even Kaiser encourages this now and has messages about it on their interminable “hold” recordings. But after three years of being vegan, I can tell you firsthand that eating plants won’t by itself make you thin. The article cited Bill Clinton’s diet, which I’ve read is not totally vegan despite his representations to the contrary.
Then the naturopathic doctor ordered this guy to go to the animal shelter and get a dog. “Why a dog?” he said. “Can I adopt a cat instead?” The doctor responded: “Have you ever walked a cat?” Again, haha! No, I have never walked a cat, nor a dog either. As I see it, you have a nice fenced yard, you let the dog out, it does its business, it comes back in. Or, like our landlord, you leave the dog in a large pen outside the house all day. But going out in the dark of night (this time of year, I go to work and come home in the pitch blackness), freezing cold, wind and snow with a plastic bag and pooper scooper? No how, no way. Oh, and by the way, if I want to go walking for exercise, I don’t need a dog (or cat) to do that.
All of which brings me to my mother. Her beloved Siamese cat, Taffy, left for kitty heaven a little over a year ago at the age of 18. Taffy was originally my sister’s, but wasn’t doing well cooped up in Sis’s condo. She drove Taffy and her meds down from the Bay Area to my parents’ house, in hope that the country air and space to roam about might improve her health. It did. Taffy took to her new life as an outdoor/indoor cat and throve with my parents for more than a decade and a half. Now she’s buried out at the back edge of their property.
Mom’s Siamese, Taffy, back in 2015.
My sister from Boston, who came out to visit this past week on the occasion of my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary, decided that the time has come for Mom to get another cat. I suppose I can understand this, as she’s nearly always had a cat (or two). There were entirely too many for me to remember, but I do recall a gray one named Pussy Willow, an all-white one named Snowflake, an orange hellion named Mewcus (eww), another gray one named Schwantzy and a huge white one with black ears and paws with the unlikely name of Baby Baldrick (who ran away to become a Canadian chat when we attempted to retrieve him from a kennel at a campground in Québec). Mom doesn’t believe in spay and neuter, so we had cats that would have as many as three litters per year. I remember my sisters and I standing with a boxful of kittens on Saturdays, yelling “Free Kitten!” until we were hoarse in front of Pathmark on Route 59.
Nevertheless, I think Mom, who is well into her 80s, should decide when she’s ready for another cat, not my sister. But Sis pushed the issue, taking Mom to Petco to look at the adoptable cats, then to the local animal shelter, where over 200 felines were available for adoption. Mom was impressed by the way that the cats had free reign over the place, prowling in and out of cat doors to visit each other in various rooms and out of doors, as well. But she couldn’t seem to find exactly the one she wanted. She said she doesn’t wanted a little kitten, nor does she want an older, lazy fat cat. So what exactly did Mom want?
A Siamese. Mom’s favorite cat was a Siamese named Pouncy who was run over crossing the road in front of our house when I was two years old. She lives on in my father’s reels of Super 8 home movies. After my parents retired and moved to California, Mom’s first cat was a dusky blue-eyed Siamese beauty named Bonnebeau (supposedly because she was beautiful and good). Of course she wasn’t spayed, so Bonnie, an indoor cat, went into heat and meowed piteously to be let out to have at it with the neighborhood toms. Eventually, she did manage to get out and celebrated her newfound freedom by taking off for parts unknown.
Unfortunately, Mom and Sis did not see any Siamese at either Petco or the animal shelter. So my sister got online and showed my Mom pictures of cats, including Siamese, available for adoption from the Cat House on the Kings, over in Fresno County.
Then my sister got on a plane and headed home, after which Mom admitted that she doesn’t really want to deal with another cat.