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Man’s best friend – his dog May 12, 2010

Posted by americanex in Uncategorized.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Man’s best friend?” It refers to a  dog being the best friend a person can ever have.

Here in Ukraine, you see these “best friends” running loose everywhere. Very few of the dogs you see are at the end of a leash or are someone’s pet. Most dogs and cats you see on the streets are homeless, stays that live off the kindness of strangers or by hunting through garbage for their meals. It seems very sad to me that so many dogs and cats do not have a loving home and someone to pet them and take care of them.

Having so many stray dogs and cats living on the streets is very different from America. It is something I had to get accustomed to seeing. I also had to remember not to try to pet them because they may not be friendly and bite if they are approached.

In America, every city has an animal shelter – a place where stray dogs and cats are taken if they are found loose on the street. If someone sees an animal running around their neighborhood, they call the Dog Warden, who is an elected official who manages the city’s Animal Shelter.  The Dog Warden will send one of the Shelter’s deputies  to pick up the stray dog or cat and take them to the animal shelter.

Sometimes, peoples’ pets get lose or escape from their yard. These animals are also picked up and taken to the animal shelter if someone sees them running around.  If they have on a collar with a license, the owner receives a call to come and pick them up from the Animal Shelter. If there is no collar or license, the animal is kept for a certain number of weeks. They are treated by a veterinarian and put up for adoption.

Many people who want a pet will go to their local Animal Shelter and adopt a dog or cat. If no one adopts a stray animal that has been at the shelter for a long time, the Dog Warden may decide to put the animal to sleep, which means they are given a drug that makes their heart stop and they die.  There is not specific amount of time a dog or cat may be kept at the Animal Shelter. Keeping them there or putting them to sleep is often determined by the animals health, their temperament and if the Shelter has enough room to keep them.

Putting an animal to sleep seems like a terrible thing to do, and it makes me sad to think about it. But it is the way stray animals are kept off the streets and people protected from getting bitten.

About 6 to 8 million dogs and cats are picked up and taken to Animal Shelters each year in the United States. of that amount, 3 to 4 million are put to sleep.

There is an organization in America that tries to prevent animals from being put to sleep. It is called the Humane Society.

The Humane Society is different from an Animal Shelter because it is not managed by the government. It does not receive government money; all expenses are from donations made by people who do not want to see animals put to sleep. And that is one of the main differences between an Animal Shelter and the Humane Society – the Humane Society will not put an animal to sleep unless they have a terminal illness.

When my youngest daughter, Darcie, asked to have a dog we went to the Animal Shelter to adopt one. She wanted a big dog, not a puppy, and one that would be very loving and calm. She also wanted a dog that needed a home, one that may not get adopted easily. We did not find her a dog on our first trip to the Animal Shelter. We gave them our phone number and asked that they call us if they found a dog that really needed a home. A few days later they called.

Darcie adopted a wonderful dog that she named Maggie. Maggie’s owner had left her and several other dogs alone for a week in his yard without food or water. Maggie had just had puppies about a month before, and she was very weak and very skinny. She was timid, kind of scared of people but we could tell she would be very loving.

It took 6 months for Maggie to put on enough weight so you could not see her rib cage. Her fur had been falling out due to malnutrition, and that stopped after a few weeks. And when she first came home with us, Maggie did not know how to play…it was a though no one had ever played with her! After a few months, when she got stronger, she learned to run after the ball we would throw for her.

Darcie and I love Maggie very much. We are grateful to the Dog Warden for picking her up. I wish all the stray dogs in Ukraine could have a home like Maggie does now. Below are some pictures of Maggie taken last Christmas. The last photo is Maggie with my youngest daughter Darcie and her boyfriend Mark.


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