"Currently, there are 989 animals in our care, and more are coming in every day. Our shelter is at capacity!" Indianapolis Animal Care Services. September 8, 2018

When you see this word, you sit up and take notice.  Last week some information came across my desk about a nine-year-old Border Collie that was in a very high kill shelter.  The back story was his owner had died a year ago, and he was placed in the care of a family member.  Fast forward to last week and the "Urgent Notice" that was in front of me, and he was to be euthanized in three days.

Apollo's first day at the shelter
In November of 2012, Molly and Clancy had a litter of beautiful Border Collies, and their new owners were very excited to see them.  One particular owner made a trip every week to the farm to see "her" pup and play and kiss it, never missing a weekly visit.  On January 12 of that same year, during an ice storm, they made the journey to pick their pup up and take her home where new toys and a beautiful dog bed was waiting.  The last words spoken to me from the original owner was, "I'm so excited I cannot wait." Three months later, the owner passed away unexceptionally.

Last week, Clancy's Dream kicked into gear for a Border Collie.  We talked to the shelter and got the euthanasia date postponed for two days, and on his last day alive, I was on the way to Indianapolis.  It was a rainy Tuesday morning, and I was in a somber mood for several reasons, and when I got there, they were closed, but we had permission to go in through the back door.  I was met by an attendant who took me right in.  Our Foster Director had already submitted all the paperwork, and all I had to do was an evaluation and take him if he passed.  Sounds simple, but it was very moving, and I choked back tears for several reasons.

It was the largest open kennel that I had ever seen, nearly a 1000 dogs barked at once drowned out any conversation, but before I stepped in, the antiseptic smell was as strong as anything I have ever smelled, but it didn't cover the stench.  Six workers were working diligently to clean and scoop up waste, but it was a never-ending task.  You could tell the dogs that had been there for some time because there was no emotion in there face, the new dogs would jump and try to get your attention, and after passing many dogs, we stopped.

I looked inside and did not see anything but a paw on the kennel door saying, "please." My heart broke again, and my mind was screaming, "how does this happen." I lead him out, and my mind was blank.  He was friendly, his tail was wagging, and he appeared happy to get out, something that doesn't occur too often.  Little did he know that I could have been his executioner, and his tail would have still been wagging until the end.

We went to a large office where I could evaluate him, but it was brief because he was a keeper, you could just tell.  No issues at all, loving, playful, and very friendly, but he had mats as big as baseballs in his fur and had been treated for a flea allergy where they had to shave some hair and treat him with antibiotics.  Every time he wagged his tail, he sprayed urine on me, but I didn't care, Apollo had a new owner, and he was going to a home that will love him like he once was loved. 

Apollo in his new bed
The astonishing thing, he is a smart, intelligent, and beautiful dog.  While there, I was shown some of the tricks he knew, and I will tell you it was more than all of my dogs know together.  Under the urine, hair mats, and flea allergy, he is a beautiful dog both inside and out.  His original owner loved him so much and taught him nearly every trick in the book and would not have ever thought that his dog would end up like this.

The Freedom Ride
When I took him for his "freedom" ride, I had to pause because this hit me pretty hard. I hung my head and asked that question once again, "how does this happen," and there is never an answer.  If you could ride with one of our rescuers or me just one time, you would ask the same question.

Apollo is doing great with a wonderful foster and has been thoroughly updated on his shots, along with a groom, and is scheduled for a dental next week.  He does his tricks again and chases the ball as much as he wants with other dogs.  He is living the life of a king, which he should.  No-one loves your dog as much as you do, and Apollo's previous owner would have been shocked if he knew the treatment that his beloved pet went through.  I do have to wonder if something happened to Elaine and me, who would take care of our dogs, or would they end up in a shelter.  Have a plan for your dogs… 

On January 21, 2012, Tess was put on a Delta flight and flown back to us because she needs a home, and in Tess's world, it was upside down.  Her home was gone, her loving owner had passed away, and no one wanted her. Apollo's world was also turned upside down too.  His owner had passed, and he had not been carried for and was suffering.  He was in a shelter and was scheduled to be PTS the next day.  He was covered in filth and wouldn't ever look through the gate; his life was over as he knew it even though he was still alive, and all he wanted was to share his love and play…

Tess is coming over in October for a play day with her owners, it will be nice to see her again.  While the shelter did it's best, they are limited.  They were dedicated and cared for the animals and did everything they could. It's up to us to help in any we can.  Think about it, how many slips through.  Spay and neuter your pet and don't ever buy from a pet store, you would be encouraging puppy mills...  Ken