Let me start my blog by introducing myself. My name is Joyce Keeton and I am a Certified Canine Behavior Counselor and the owner of The Dog Spot in Loganville and Stone Mountain.
I have lived in Loganville for five and a half years and am deeply involved with both English Bulldog Rescue and All-Breed Rescue. My dream is to someday open a elderly dog sanctuary where homeless geriatric dogs can live out their lives in comfort and dignity.
We have an epidemic going on not only locally but nationally as well. However, I have never seen it quite so pervasive as it is right here. The epidemic is...unwanted dogs.
On any given day, I can pull up both the Gwinnett Animal Shelter or the Walton County Shelter's page and see dozens and dozens of sweet, beautiful, wonderful, but unwanted dogs listed for adoption. I can also contact any number of private rescue organizations and get a list that includes another large number of homeless dogs that they are fostering and looking for homes for. At The Dog Spot, we have ten or so homeless dogs looking for homes. Some have been with us for years.
I used to live in Washington DC and the North Virginia area. I started my career with animals up there. I spent a year working for a local Animal Shelter, another year working with a local Veterinarian, and several years working for Kennels.
I was trying to find where I belonged and what part of animal care suited me.
Working at the Animal Shelter probably had the most impact on my career choice. I remember that we always had dogs in the shelter and I even remember the horror of having to euthanize some of those dogs. The look in their eyes as their life was about to be taken away from them.
I remember crying and holding them, wishing the person that came through the other day had decided on this dog and not walked out without one. Wondering what this sweet dog had done to deserve not having anyone to love him. There were days that we put down a few dogs and days that we put down none. I loved the days where none had to be put down.
I worked so hard to try and help people see the beauty in these dogs and hopefully make a love connection. I will never forget the Afghan Hound who came in so scared and skinny. He had a look of emptiness in his eyes and it took me several days to convince him that I loved him and was never going to hurt him. He came to trust me and we became best buddies.
I would point him out to anyone that came through looking for a new addition to their family. I practically begged for someone, anyone to give this amazing boy a chance. I kept asking my manager to give him another day, then another, and another. This boy's unforgivable "problem" was that he was older. We guessed him to be about 7 or 8 years old.
The day we euthanized him was the day I handed in my resignation and walked out of Animal Control for good. My heart couldn't take the pain of ending dogs lives anymore for no reason other than no one wanted them. This is the point I decided I needed to do something different.
I didn't get to that "something" overnight. It took years of experiencing different aspects of dog care as well as working corporate jobs and going to school to decide that I wanted to become a teacher...a teacher to dogs.
I love helping "broken", unwanted dogs to become whole and then finding that dog a loving, forever home. All rescuers love that. The frustration and heartbreak comes in when we can't find that home. All dogs that come into our care either under English Bulldog Rescue, The Dog Spot, BLISS Animal Haven, and countless other local rescue organizations are lucky. We will work for as long as it takes to find the dogs in our care homes. Like I said, we have several that have been with us for years and we haven't given up hope.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for Animal Shelters. They have limited space and limited funds and take in so many unwanted animals that they don't have a choice. Thousands of dogs are euthanized annually in Gwinnett County alone. These aren't bad dogs, they are just homeless. A lot of them are purebred, young, and loving. Sure there are some aggressive, sick, and injured dogs that get euthanized as well but they are in the minority.
What's the solution? Easy! Spay or neuter! This one responsible step would go a long way toward reducing the population of unwanted dogs. Don't buy a dog from a pet store or back yard breeder! I know the puppies are cute and it breaks your heart to see them there. However, if you buy that puppy, the pet store or back yard breeder will just replace it with another. You are not rescuing a puppy when you buy one this way. You are supporting an industry that is cruel, inhumane, and heartless. Adopt!
Give a rescued dog a chance. Sure they will be a little older and they might have a few bumps or scratches. That is a small price to pay for a dog that will come spayed/neutered, health checked, vaccinated, microchipped, and may even know a few behaviors already. Puppies may be cute but they come with a lot of expense, pee and poo, chewed furniture, puppy nipping, unknown future behaviors, unknown adolescent health problems, and the inevitable problem of becoming an adult dog which is not nearly as cute as a puppy.
A rescued dog is "what you see is what you get" while a puppy is a mystery. Many of my private clients purchased a puppy and call me when the puppy is no longer cute and fuzzy but still exhibiting puppy behaviors such as chewing, jumping, barking, leash pulling, or worse...aggression. In fact, most dogs are given up and end up in shelters around 2 years of age due to behavior problems.
Rescued dogs are not broken nor are they second hand. They are just homeless. This epidemic can be fixed by changing the conscience of society and as a collective, making choices toward a solution. Spay, neuter, rescue!!!
If you have questions on rescue dogs, spay/neuter programs, or teaching your dog...please give me a call at The Dog Spot, 678-475-7600 or 678-246-7900.