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Dog left in apartment for five days--Los Angeles
January 28, 2014 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm on a work trip until Saturday (5 days from now), and a coworker mentioned that he left his dog alone in his apartment for the duration of the trip. The nature of my job makes it really difficult to directly confront the issue with the person--but I can if that's the only option. I have a friend in LA who is ready to get the dog, and I know the address but obviously we don't have access to the apartment. Any information about resources to get the dog out would be great. It's been alone since 9:00 pst this morning and apparently has food and water. Thanks.
posted by justjess to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Anonymous call back to animal control. DO NOT take matters into your own hands. Animal Control will have a much better idea of how to handle the situation and take whatever action is needed.
posted by mibo at 3:37 PM on January 28 [13 favorites]

First, are you sure you have all the facts? Person is really leaving dog completely alone for the whole time? Or do they have a dog-walker/feeder visiting a couple of times a day? That would still not be ideal, but much better than no visits at all.You need to be sure before any intervention.
posted by beagle at 3:44 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]

Oh this makes me so sad.

Call the SPCA, not animal control.
posted by phunniemee at 3:45 PM on January 28

It would be... extremely odd for any normal person to want to come home from a business trip to an apartment covered in urine and feces. Are you sure you didn't misunderstand? I left my dog home for 10 days while I was on a cruise, but she had a dog walker/sitter coming by 3x a day to feed and exercise her.

If you're 100% sure you didn't, call the SPCA.
posted by zug at 3:48 PM on January 28 [26 favorites]

Yeah, my first thought is that there may well be a dog walker or pet sitter coming in to care for the dog. Not all dogs cope with being boarded well. I wouldn't go calling anyone unless you are sure nobody is checking on the dog.
posted by biscotti at 3:48 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Wow. If you are unable to confront the person directly about this, what are you going to do when they find out that you (by proxy) broke into their home and stole their dog? Please have a conversation first. I am a pet lover but if one of my coworkers did that to me I would get a restraining order and press charges.
posted by cakebatter at 3:55 PM on January 28 [10 favorites]

It would be... extremely odd for any normal person to want to come home from a business trip to an apartment covered in urine and feces.

Seconded. Some dogs are ok being left alone. My parents used to have a large outdoor dog, and they could just leave an open bag of food on the porch and have a neighbor come by to check the water and everything was fine. It's possible this dog has a doggy door with access to a yard and someone coming by to check on him periodically. Can you fish around for more information? Just say something like, "Hey, aren't you going to come home to a mess if your dog's home alone all week?"
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:01 PM on January 28

100% sure this person doesn't have someone checking on dog and it's inside a bathroom in an apartment. Agree this is extremely odd to say the least. Also 100% not going to break in, I meant more like the dog wouldn't need to go to the pound but my friend would be willing to take it if we could get it out legally. Sorry for bring unclear or vague. I will call SPCA. Thanks.
posted by justjess at 4:04 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Before calling the SPCA, please PLEASE please converse with this person. If you are making that threat I'm sure they would like the option of solving this themselves before having a costly and potentially ugly legal situation (animal cruelty charges). Think about the ramifications of working with someone whose life you might harm hugely when you could have just talked.
posted by cakebatter at 4:08 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]

Maybe you could contact coworker and be like, "Hey, do you need someone to come walk and take care of your dog while we're away? I have someone who will do it for free. I'd hate for you to come home to bathroom covered in poo, you know?"
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:12 PM on January 28 [16 favorites]

Also, this isn't as odd or as terrible as you think it is. Many dogs are okay with this kind of set up and do not endure duress at all. Don't go extreme when you talk to the SPCA. Being reactionary isn't going to help you or the dog right now.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:13 PM on January 28

You should talk to your co-worker.

This may be psychologically cruel to the animal but is not illegal in LA unless the animal does not have enough food and water. The SPCA cannot solve the problem themselves. They can only get a warrant issued which usually gives the animal owner 3 days to respond. By the time animal control can investigate the situation the pet's owner will probably be home.

That said it is probably appropriate to call the SPCA and ask what they recommend.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 4:18 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

This is just an idea but perhaps 'confronting' your co-worker is not the only way to go about this.

Hey, I've been thinking a lot about your dog that you said was home alone. I love dogs! I have a friend who would totally love to pick him up and watch him while we're away. Would that be possible? I feel a little bad for you having to come home to a messy bathroom. My friend would be happy to help out.
posted by Youremyworld at 4:33 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]

I like what Youremyword said, but the problem is that if that conversation goes nowhere, this person is more likely to know you are the one that did whatever next step you do. But if they can't prove it maybe you don't care. How sad that someone would do this to a dog, but maybe they are not evil but instead are extremely ignorant about pet matters.
posted by Dansaman at 4:39 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

I think you should call SPCA directly, at least even just for advice. I can't imagine the kind of dog who would be OK on his own for 5 days in a bathroom. I literally can't see how any animal could be OK left alone like that.
posted by stevedawg at 4:47 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]

If you know that they've locked the dog in the bathroom for 5 days, then you're left with a choice. I think it's a moral question. It sounds like you're the sort of person who cares about the life in question and is willing to do what is necessary to help. Follow your gut. You may need to create some discomfort with this person - but they locked a dog in a bathroom, do you care what they think of you? Intervening is the right thing to do. There isn't any excuse for something like this. If you wouldn't do it to a baby, you shouldn't do it to any other animal that relies on a human for care.

At the very least, what if there was a house fire? Or some other event? It's irresponsible and inappropriate - regardless of the legal status.
posted by jardinier at 5:10 PM on January 28 [4 favorites]

The SPCALA (which is not affiliated with the ASPCA, BTW) appears to be animal control for LA, and they have all the law enforcement authority necessary to resolve the situation if necessary.

If for any reason they can't take action, like they don't have enough evidence that the dog is abandoned or neglected to get a warrant, then maybe you could talk to your coworker to try to make arrangements for your friend to go get the dog. If animal control isn't able to do anything about it, he'd never have to know you called them in the first place.

Based just on the fact that he left a dog alone in a bathroom for five days, it seems very unlikely that he thought through a real, foolproof way to ensure the dog has sufficient food and water for the full five days. The water bowl could have been knocked over, the food could have been binge eaten, and the dog could already be in distress.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:12 PM on January 28 [6 favorites]

Heh. Hi. It's me again.

I have to take back the thing I just said about SPCA LA being animal control. Apparently, they're "humane law enforcement" and animal control is a different thing somehow.

They can still get warrants and arrest people, though, and it looks like they're still the right people to call.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:20 PM on January 28 [2 favorites]

Locked in a bathroom? the fuck. Someone who was supposed to "take care" of my dog while i was out of town did that to him. Whenever he would start barking and crying for attention, she'd shut the light off. Does the bathroom even have a window? is the light even on? This could be REALLY cruel. My dog was afraid of bathrooms FOREVER after that, and also afraid of certain dark spaces. And that was only for two nights!

This is really really really mean. Abusive and inhumane, even.

What are they realistically going to do if you talk to them about it? They can SAY they're having someone deal with it and just lie. How would they realistically set that up if they're already out of town? How would they get the person the keys? etc. There's so many opportunities to lie and go "oh no, i dealt with it!" that i could see the type of person who thinks locking a dog in a bathroom for 5 days would easily bullshit up. Not even just in their house, but "oh he might mess up the carpet, lock him in a tiny bathroom!" logic. It's almost sociopathic.

The negatives are now that you have to deal with pushing them for confirmation and proof it's really being dealt with, AND that if you pursue any action after that they know 100% for sure it was you and can retaliate.

If you just report them, it could be a neighbor who heard endless barking and wimpering, etc. You have plausible deniability.

Just call animal control and explain the situation. He deserves whatever he gets. Why give this guy a chance to lie and placate you? Just think again about how easy that would be for him to do Vs actually going through the work and effort of begrudgingly dealing with this when he obviously thinks what he did is perfectly fine.
posted by emptythought at 5:28 PM on January 28 [8 favorites]

You know what? Fixing this specific event does not fix the abuse that this dog endures. Yes, your friend can show up during this trip, but your coworker thinks it's okay to lock the animal in a small space for 5 days. Next trip he'll do the same thing.

Call in an animal cruelty complaint. (If you won't, MeMail me the details and I'll do it.)

And watch your back with that coworker. People with no empathy are dangerous.
posted by 26.2 at 5:44 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]

Also, this isn't as odd or as terrible as you think it is. Many dogs are okay with this kind of set up and do not endure duress at all.

Dude. "Many dogs" are not okay with lying in their urine and feces for 5 days, as they are locked in a windowless room completely alone for all 5 days. Would you be?? Hour, after hour, after hour, for an entire work week. Dogs are social and intelligent animals who need exercise and stimulation and not to lie in their own excrement.

This is absolutely a job for animal control.
posted by cairdeas at 5:46 PM on January 28 [18 favorites]

I contacted SPCA LA and left a message since their offices are closed. I will follow up in the morning.

Thanks everyone for the information and level headed responses, this is obviously a super terrible situation and hopefully SPCA LA can help resolve it.
posted by justjess at 6:23 PM on January 28 [12 favorites]

It is 100 percent NOT OK to lock any dog up alone in a bathroom for five days!!! No way Jose! OP thanks for being concerned. If I were you I would call the SPCA.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:25 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]

There is only one way to properly fix this situation - send the co-worker back to make the proper arrangements. Having done so, he/she can rejoin the work trip. Given the circumstances, no employer would quibble about that. Though, and this might be highly appropriate bush justice, the employer may require the co-worker to fund the expense of the return trip as it should not have been necessary if the co-worker had done the right thing in the first place.
posted by GeeEmm at 4:23 AM on January 29

If you haven't talked to the SPCA yet today, when you do, don't tell them the dog has food and water. Say you don't know, or have reason to believe it does not. This will make it much more likely that they can get in and do something, fast.
posted by catatethebird at 7:19 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]

And that is not a lie. Dogs knock stuff over all the time especially if they are trying to maneuver in a tiny space. The dog may have started out with enough water for 5 days and now may have absolutely none.
posted by cairdeas at 8:57 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]

And that is not a lie. Dogs knock stuff over all the time especially if they are trying to maneuver in a tiny space. The dog may have started out with enough water for 5 days and now may have absolutely none.

Seconding this. I have cats (cats, for pete's sake) and never leave them alone for more than 36 hours because the little one has even managed to flip over her thick ceramic, flat-bottomed, 6"-diameter, 4"-tall water bowl. Which I bought precisely because she takes great delight in tipping over water bowls... this one is more difficult for her than others. She weighs 5 kilos (12 pounds, probably all muscle). The water bowl weighs at least 1 kilo when water is in it. Imagine what any dog could do.

Also, dogs are NOT good judges of how much food they have eaten. It is very easy for a dog to snorf down food left out for it. My family had a sweet, smart Golden Retriever. My parents left her three days' worth of food once, while they went off for a long weekend, and left us kids with our grandparents, 25 miles away, telling them the dog would be fine. I freaked about the dog and convinced them to drive us back to my parents' place. This was the evening of Miss Dog's first day alone, okay. Sure enough, sweet smart Golden Retriever had feasted and then barfed it all up, which meant not only was her dish empty, but her stomach was, too.

I was very glad to read you'll be calling the SPCA.
posted by fraula at 10:35 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]

I would not confront the owner directly, but I'd place a call immediately to the local animal control office and/or the SPCA. ESPECIALLY if you know the dog does not have adequate food and fresh water.

Happy to see you have done this.
posted by tckma at 12:56 PM on January 29

Check your memail.
posted by jayder at 9:50 PM on January 29

I am so hoping for an update on this poor puppy!

OP, you are a good person.
posted by merejane at 4:43 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]

Before calling the SPCA, please PLEASE please converse with this person. If you are making that threat I'm sure they would like the option of solving this themselves before having a costly and potentially ugly legal situation (animal cruelty charges). 

If they didnt want a potentially horrible situation on their hands when they came home perhaps they should not have left the poor dog alone in the bathroom. No one to blame but themselves in this case.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:49 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]

I thought about this thread this morning as I was leaving for work and tripped over my dog's water bowl spilling it all out onto the floor.

I hope this story had a happy ending, or at least a good-for-the-dog ending.
posted by phunniemee at 12:04 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]

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