Help me help this dog!
June 6, 2012 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I found a dog recently with some friends. He ended up in the shelter because he has a chip, but the numbers associated with his chip are disconnected and he is now up for adoption. The problem? He's a 7-year-old male German Shepherd.

The plan was for one of my friends to keep him temporarily, but through a very specific chain of events that I don't feel comfortable posting (nothing scandalous, but I'm worried about outing my metafilter identity IRL) he is at a shelter in Los Angeles. My friends and I are networking our butts off trying to find him a home, but I worry that this poor dog's death is imminent.

I'm thinking about taking him if he goes on the "WE WILL EUTHANIZE THIS DOG TOMORROW!" list, but I hesitate for a few reasons:
1. I live in an apartment.
2. I work 10-14 hours a day.
3. I have a roommate who may not be cool with this.

My friends have similar mitigating circumstances (illness, other pets, etc.)

So far, we have tried posting about him on facebook, our personal blogs, and contacting local rescue groups. But I'm freaking out that it won't be enough. Even though he is sweet, good-natured, good with kids, good on a leash, and super cute, he's an older German Shepherd and I know how those dogs fare in the shelter system (not well).

I want to save this dog, even if I can't keep him. I want to see pictures of him licking a child's face in his new backyard. I want to find him an awesome forever home where he will be given the love and attention that he deserves. What else can we do? Have I forgotten anything?
posted by ablazingsaddle to Pets & Animals (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you foster him temporarily while working with a rescue group to find him a forever home?
posted by erst at 2:06 PM on June 6, 2012

Not to threadsit - just trying to clarify - if I foster him, he will be alone in an apartment for 12+ hours a day. It's on the table, but as a last resort.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:10 PM on June 6, 2012

First things first you should talk with your roommate, because the other two concerns are less deal-breaking. Dogs, even large dogs, can do fine in apartments. Working long hours is not ideal, but a seven year old German Shepherd is starting to mellow out into middle age and beyond and does not have the endlessly recharging energy supplies that a two year old dog has. You will have to arrange your day so that you can start the day with a good walk and end it with a good walk.

If you can't persuade the roommate to agree to adoption, definitely propose fostering while a permanent home is found.
posted by ambrosia at 2:12 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

One of the German Shepherd rescues may be able to help: (these three found via google, there may be others)

"Westside German Shepherd Rescue of Los Angeles is a non profit 501(c)3, no kill rescue committed to
saving all types of German Shepherd Dogs from high kill shelters and adopting them to loving, qualified homes."

OR: German Shepherd Rescue

OR: German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
posted by inigo2 at 2:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

And to clarify, we have a large Shepherd mix. He spends the bulk of the day asleep, whether we are home or not. Adequate exercise is key to making being alone all day work, but it's not impossible.
posted by ambrosia at 2:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can you get him featured on one of those radio shows as Pet of the Week? Or in the newspaper? That sort of thing would help to raise his profile among people looking to adopt.

Another suggestion: get someone you know who is a great photographer to take a series of wonderful photos of him and get those posted on Petfinder and the shelter website and Facebook. The current photo isn't awful but it does make him look kind of scruffy. Maybe you could get him professionally groomed right before the photo shoot. Groomers sometimes donate their services to shelter pets. Professional photos really help show the dogs at their best and attract people to come in to the shelter and meet them in person (where of course he will win their hearts).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:21 PM on June 6, 2012

Don't forget the offline world! I second treehorn+bunny's suggestion for better pictures.

Make a nice flyer with min. 2 pics (friendly face & from the side) and hand those out to vets to hang on their info board. This works best in a neighborhood where you have lots of homes with yards vs. apartment buildings. I know this is some cost&legwork for you, but if nothing else works it might yield some results - people that go to vets already own pets/recently owned pets, also people who work at vet's offices have networks of animal lovers and might be able to find someone suitable.
Is it legal where you live to hang flyers up in public? Or try health/organic food stores, cafes and smaller bookstores maybe?
posted by travelwithcats at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2012

Do you know the phone number associated with the chip? It shouldn't be especially hard to track down who once owned it and, from there, you may be able to identify a name and contact his owners.

And you could put up signs, of course, but what if you put them up in the area associated with his old exchange (as well as wherever you found him and at any local dog parks)? He may have tried to return to his old home. I'd also be tempted to mail flyers to every vet practicing near both areas, since he probably received regular medical attention if someone cared enough to chip him. Someone might recognize him.

If his real name is Baby (e.g., gleaned from the chip), that might really help people realize they know him or, in conjunction with the phone number, to figure out whether he's ever been licensed. Good luck-- he looks marvelous and you're wonderful to be so concerned.
posted by carmicha at 2:38 PM on June 6, 2012

In addition to vets, maybe send fliers to groomers?
posted by carmicha at 2:43 PM on June 6, 2012

Another thing I would recommend is posting to the lost and found on craigslist and elsewhere since he was chipped. That plus the fact that he is good on a leash etc mean he was definitely someone's pet. And as much as you want to save this dog, a family could be missing him more. I would definitely try that as an outlet, and scour the lost dog postings in the area looking for a match (even surrounding areas, as sometimes they can wonder far and wide), if you haven't done that already.

I also agree with others, talk to your roommate and explain the situation (if they don't already understand) in regards to potentially fostering until you can find a permanent home. A dog that age, that is most likely house trained based on the history, wouldn't be much of a problem in an apartment, you would only have to deal with the inconvenience of taking him out leashed to tinkle etc. I would say take him for a good long walk in the mornings and he'll probably spend most of the day snoozing (that's what my dogs do all day and they are much younger).
posted by Quincy at 2:44 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

He was obviously pretty neglected (half of his ears are gone from flystrike, he has bad teeth, and he was really skinny and ungroomed when we found him - trust me, that photo is an improvement - and the park where we found him a popular spot to dump off unwanted pets. I don't really want to find his original owner. I want to find a new, better owner for this awesome dog.

My big worry about leaving him in apartment all day is that ten hours is too long for his bladder/bowels. Can a dog really hold it for that long?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:46 PM on June 6, 2012

My dogs (one 7, one 9) do fine with being home alone for ten hours on occasion. They have very, very occasional accidents, but as long as they trust that we're coming home and will take them out as soon as we get home, they're fine. They just sleep all day (whether we're home or not) -- we put up webcams to see what they did all day, and they do the same thing they do when we're home -- sleep, mostly.
posted by erst at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2012

Seconded. He should be fine. If you are worried, and have the means, you could have someone come by and take him out once during the day. Or perhaps get one of the friends that have been trying to help you find him a home to help out if they are close by. There is also the option of Doggie Daycare, but its super pricey, maybe an option once a week or so.

Oh and, I don't blame you then, I would not want to find his previous owners either if he was in a state like that.
posted by Quincy at 2:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, please let the shelter know IMMEDIATELY to contact you if the dog is going to be put down, so you can come get him. The LA shelters are really high-traffic, unfortunately.

Have you tried getting involved with the NKLA people? Here's their Facebook page: No-Kill Los Angles Facebook page
posted by erst at 2:52 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

My big worry about leaving him in apartment all day is that ten hours is too long for his bladder/bowels. Can a dog really hold it for that long?

i leave work around 8.30a and don't often get back before 6p. my dog (75lb weimaraner) holds it (and can hold it for far longer if he had too). i make sure he goes to the bathroom right before i leave and for the most part, he somehow just knows he can't drink as much water during the day. every once in awhile he gets into super thirsty jags and he'll have an accident before i get home.

just make sure this dog is housetrained tho, and knows he shouldn't be going to the bathroom inside. or have a dog walker (someone you know or hired) come in the middle of the day to walk him. a day of doggie daycare every week would be great as well, but make sure you give him plenty of exercise when you get home, and he should be fine.
posted by violetk at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you afford to pay a neighbor kid, retiree, etc in the building to give him a quick midday walk around the block...or perhaps there is an animal lover that would at least do it temporarily during the fostering process? It could be well worth it to post a flyer - I personally would jump to do that sort of thing if I could. If you could do that, he could live a very good life with you. Older dogs tend to be mellow rugs during the day anyway.
posted by susanvance at 2:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just to give you guys an idea of my work schedule lately: I leave for work around 8:30, and get home around 8:00.

Too much for a dog bladder?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:02 PM on June 6, 2012

nthing what everyone has said about you fostering/adopting him. Older dogs are more mellow, buy him a kong or 2 and stuff it with a treat just before you leave and he'll amuse himself for ages with it. Between that, napping and a toy or 2 if you want to get him some he'll be fine, as long as he gets people time with you on the weekends. He might take a little bit to re toilet train after being a stray and in a shelter, stress can do that to a dog, but he could be just fine.

A large dog will need a decent walk morning and night and potty breaks just before and just after you get home. Basically it's getting your roommate on side that will be the problem. If you really just want to foster him until he finds a good home then that would be probably the best way to convince your roomy to let him stay. Then network like crazy to find him a good home.
posted by wwax at 3:02 PM on June 6, 2012

Oh, and for those suggesting doggie day care: I am pretty damn poor these days. Like, I'm not sure if I can swing the adoption fee.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:05 PM on June 6, 2012

Too much for a dog bladder?

Depends on the dog. With a stretch like that, even if the dog can normally handle it, consistency will be absolutely critical. No staying late or going out right after work.
posted by supercres at 3:07 PM on June 6, 2012

Also, he's going to be slightly out of commission for a couple days following neutering. May need pain meds. Obviously it's a temporary concern, but make sure you can be home with him most of the time for, say, a weekend.

His peeing patterns may also change after that (it's less likely, though, since he's older).
posted by supercres at 3:10 PM on June 6, 2012

Do you have the disconnected telephone numbers that were associated with his chip? Can you get them? If so, you might consider running them in Google or on a site like PhoneDetective. That could pull up who used to have the numbers - which might lead you to the former owner of the dog.
posted by hazleweather at 3:25 PM on June 6, 2012

I actually think the broke thing would be more of an issue than anything else. Just because dogs can get so expensive so quickly. I may suggest, if a no kill shelter or rescue group is unable to take him in, seeing if they may be willing to assist in any other way while you are fostering him. In the past when we have found dogs and our local no kill shelter was unable to take them in, they helped with other things that they could(vet visits, food, vaccinations etc). Just to ease the stress on your pocketbook a little.
posted by Quincy at 3:39 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Your best bet would be to contact on of the German Shepherd Rescues linked above. Let them know that the dog is in a kill-shelter, and you are willing to help out in some way if they can find room for them in their program. This may involve you picking him up from the shelter and driving him somewhere to meet with a volunteer, or maybe fostering him until they have a spot. Rescue groups place highest priority on dogs in his situation, and as long as his temperament is as nice as you say, they should work with you to help this boy out.
posted by tryniti at 3:41 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

12 hours is a little long for a dog bladder. When I had a dog (and a long, sometimes unpredictably long, workday) I paid for a daily dog walker. This ran me $75/week...she would walk the dog, top off the water, etc. This also helps burn off energy.

This is cheaper than Doggie Daycare, but still not cheap, I know. If you foster him, could your friends pitch in a bit for the walker?

Good luck.
posted by maryrussell at 3:48 PM on June 6, 2012

Oh, and for those suggesting doggie day care: I am pretty damn poor these days. Like, I'm not sure if I can swing the adoption fee.

Dogs are very expensive! My husband and I spend over $4k on our dog per year (walks, good food, flea, tick, and heartworm prevention and regular vet visits), NOT INCLUDING any surprise visits to the vet. In one surprise visit to the vet, we put down $1700 as a deposit and got back about $1k. Stupid dog ate something that PUNCTURED HER TRACHEA and made her blow up like a ballon. No lie, dogs are awesome but they CRAZY.

Every cent we've spent on her is worth it. Sure, we cut back in other places to afford having a dog, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

But, do you have the wiggle room in your budget?

On preview: we also pay $75 per week on walks. This is standard in my town for 30 min daily walks. Our dog is small and can't go more than 6 hours or so without walks. Larger dogs can go much, much longer.
posted by two lights above the sea at 4:05 PM on June 6, 2012

But, do you have the wiggle room in your budget?

I make ~$30,000/year and I live in one of the most expensive cities in the US. So no, I don't have room in my budget.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:29 PM on June 6, 2012

Sorry if that was a little snippy. But just to clarify: I'm not really look for dog ownership tips - I can't keep him long-term. This is an emergency situation, and I stepping up to the plate because it's the right thing to do. But I am not his forever home.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:31 PM on June 6, 2012

I wasn't offering you dog ownership tips. I was trying to make it clear that if you can't even afford the adoption fee, then you probably can't afford the dog itself. Even as a foster. In my experience, most medical issues happen in the first few weeks or months of having a dog. Just the nature of bringing in a neglected/stray dog. Also, with your schedule, I seriously doubt you would have success leaving the dog at home for 12 straight hours even for a week or two. Hence, the cost of dog walkers.

I hope you find a suitable owner!
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:10 PM on June 6, 2012

This feels pretty hopeless.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:18 PM on June 6, 2012

Does the dog have an adoption page at the shelter? If so, MeMail the link and I'll forward it to my friend to put on Facebook blast. She's very involved with animal rescue groups.
posted by Ruki at 5:57 PM on June 6, 2012

Are you not having any luck with any of the rescue groups? There are more German Shepherd Rescues listed at this link from the American Kennel Club. Several of them are somewhere in Southern California. One of their biggest priorities is getting members of the breed out of kill shelters.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:58 PM on June 6, 2012

A friend who works with a rescue group had this suggestion:

She should also ask if she can "courtesy show" the dog at another group's pet adoption. She'd bring him to the adoption site so potential owners can see him. She would need to stay with him the whole time, not just drop him off. Much Love has courtesy shows at our weekend adoptions pretty often.

If you're interested in doing this, memail me and I can give you my friend's email address. She can help you arrange this.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:12 PM on June 6, 2012

12-14 hours between bathroom breaks may be a bit long, but it does depend on the dog. I have a German Shepherd mix who can easily hold it that long and will often choose to, if not taken to one of her preferred bathroom spots. I also live in an apartment.

I also just wanted to say you are a good person for doing so much to find a home for this poor dog.
posted by asynchronous at 7:04 PM on June 6, 2012

I was trying to make it clear that if you can't even afford the adoption fee, then you probably can't afford the dog itself. Even as a foster.

This isn't necessarily true. Our Idaho shelter will foot the bill for any medical emergency and standard care--shots, worming, etc, on fosters, if needed.

You can make the foster work, if necessary. Could a couple of your friends commit to coming over in rotation to let him out once during the day. Would your roommate be willing to let him out when he gets home?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

You can call the rescues, ask them to pull him, offer to foster him for 1-2 weeks and bring him to adoption events on the weekends, have a couple of friends split up taking him for a mid-day walk during the week.

If you look at breaking it down to manageable parts, it will be easier to make it happen.
posted by Vaike at 8:13 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

To echo what someone else said, if you have any kind of link I will post it on Facebook--I'm in (northern) California and I'm friends with a lot of rescue groups on Facebook. If you end up fostering him I have a $30 PetSmart card that I can send you. Hell, I could probably take him if you could get him to Sacramento or even halfway.
posted by désoeuvrée at 3:57 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey guys, here he is:

I went to the shelter this morning, and he has been neutered. The woman I spoke to at the shelter was skeptical that me taking him was a good idea, saying that they almost never put down well-behaved German Shepherds, and that he probably won't do well in an apartment. I'm pretty torn about this.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:23 AM on June 8, 2012

You know, you sound really smitten by and connected to this dog. Any chance you might be willing to change your living circumstances to accommodate this dog? Anyway, I think your latest post sounds like good news as it implies she's optimistic that he'll be adopted. Yes? Can you ask them to hang a sign on his cage and/or put a note in his file to call you (and why) should they decide they will euthanize him? Then, if necessary, you could carry out the plan of fostering him and bringing him to adoption events if necessary to avoid having him put down?
posted by carmicha at 11:58 AM on June 8, 2012

The biggest hurdle to me owning a dog, honestly, is that my work hours can be insane. I work in TV production, and it's been pretty laid back recently, but I just talked to my once-and-possibly-future boss about how she needs me to work later this season. So, this is more of an emergency thing.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:37 PM on June 8, 2012

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