Los Angeles, California - Pet abandonment is illegal in the state of California. Cal. Pen. Code § 597s. Nevertheless, people continue to dump their pets on the streets or highways, in a park, school, shopping mall parking lot, or some remote area, and drive away with impunity. Sometimes, the dog will chase after the car speeding away, trying desperately and in vain to follow his family that threw him out like garbage.
The now abandoned dog has not only lost the family and home he has come to know, but was thrust into unfamiliar territory with different scents, sounds and sights resulting in bewilderment, fear, and depression. This is true even when the abandoned dog’s human never treated him kindly. Dogs are extremely social animals. As such, the cohesive force between the dog and owner – no matter how weak - is broken.
Sayer, a large, average-looking, lab-Chow-mix is a dog who appeared to have been dumped by his humans at a park.
In August of 2012, Cindy Carder received a call by her neighbor asking for her help in rescuing a stray dog she saw hanging around at a local park. Passing the park on her way to work one morning, Carder spotted a stray dog who met the description given to her by her neighbor. Something seemed odd, though. She noticed that Sayer was trotting closely behind a jogger. Carder said to herself, “This doesn’t look like a stray dog. He’s running with his human.” Carder decided to stop the jogger and ask if the dog was hers. She answered “no” and explained that she jogged by this park everyday and the stray simply began following her while she was jogging. It seems the stray adopted her as his human. Pitiful.
Carder bent down to pet the stray – now named Sayer. Carder described Sayer as extremely friendly and highly sociable. She could not take him with her to work, so she begged the woman to bring him home for a few hours. In the meantime, Carder would look for a foster while at work. Despite aggressively networking Sayer that day, there were no offers to foster.
Carder asked the woman if she would agree to keep Sayer at her home for a few days until she could find someone who could take him. The woman agreed. While at the woman’s home, Sayer got along very well with her cocker spaniel, Chihuhua and cat. (More accurately, Sayer actually ignored the cat.) The woman described Sayer this way:
I didn't have him long. But his demeanor is very good. My dogs' sizes are from small to medium (chi to cocker). One of the cats walked right by him and he didn't even care. As far as kids go, my youngest is 18 so I really can't say anything about young children. What he wants is a family that can give him a lot of attention and love. He is hungry for love. As long as he is with a human he is really good.
The woman kept Sayer for a few days; however, during that time, Sayer escaped twice. She was frantic with worry and had to carry out a massive search for him on both occasions. The stress of Sayer’s two escapes, and fearing her other dogs would also escape, she told Carder she could no longer keep Sayer, even temporarily.
With no one offering to foster Sayer, he had nowhere to go. He was taken to the West Los Angeles Animal Care and Control in September 2012.
Sayer has been at the shelter for four months and is reportedly not doing well. Sayer’s demeanor at the shelter is described as very quiet. He remains at the back of the cage. He is not aggressive. According to Carder, Sayer is mentally and emotionally deteriorating. In addition, a vet tech and two volunteers are witnessing Sayer growing more and more depressed everyday. The shelter community calls this “kennel stress,” which is potentially life threatening.
According to the SPCA of Texas, this is why:
The term ‘kennel stress’ refers to the confinement insanity that occurs when animals are kept in enclosures for extended periods without enough opportunities to exercise, think, socialize and rest. We all understand the importance of keeping animals physically healthy through veterinary care, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, but it is important to note that stress and behavior problems can be just as deadly as illness.
Indeed, kennel stress is one of the leading reasons why an otherwise healthy dog becomes unadoptable. What this means for Sayer is he has become the “underdog” at the shelter – that is, “a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest.” Source In the world of animal shelter rescues, Sayer is predicted to be a loser in the competition of being adopted; of leaving the shelter alive.
Two months after entering the shelter, three individuals conducted a behavioral assessment on Sayer. Sadly, he did not pass, even though he did very well at the home of the temporary foster.
However, in early December, Michael Schrager, a trainer and animal behaviorist conducted his own independent behavioral assessment on Sayer. This was Schrager’s assessment, verbatim:
- When it comes to trapping people in his kennel, yes Sayer is a big dog and will stand by the door and work very hard to get his nose in when you open the door - he doesn't like being in the kennel. I have not seen any kind of aggression or trying to bite or attack anyone just playful escape activity!
- Sayer is a big dog with lots of weight behind him so when he does get his nose into the opening he can easily open the door and run!
- On a personal note, I adore the big guy, he's always been very good with me, he is strong and does pull on the leash. I got stuck once in the kennel and he wouldn't even fall for the "Here's a treat" trick to get him to go back in the kennel so I could get out. I had someone open the back door and he went into the cubby and I let myself out the front. Sayer is very smart. My personal opinion, in the right home, he's going to be a great dog.
A video of Sayer can be seen below this article.
There is one trait about Sayer about which everyone agrees. He is extremely bright. For that reason, no one can walk him. Due to his high intelligence, Sayer has figured out ways to avoid being left alone. When someone opens the gate to walk him (which is rare), he tries to bolt. In addition, when the walker attempts to return Sayer to his kennel, not only does he resist being placed back into the kennel by engaging in “playful escape activity,” but, once inside, he blocks the entrance to prevent the walker from leaving. Sayer is a big dog. Sayer is a strong dog. Add the foregoing to the fact that there are few volunteers at the shelter relative to the animals, he is rarely walked or provided with any quality human interaction.
Being in the shelter is stressful enough for any animal, even for those with a strong constitution. Sayer - an extremely intelligent dog - is starving for attention and social interaction. He is a dog, after all - a highly social creature, by nature.
With respect to his health, the kennel stress appears to have taken its toll, which is now a source of concern. A vet tech informed Carder on December 30th that Sayer is in ISO for severe diarrhea. It should be noted that the diarrhea may be due to a change in diet, but it is suspected that he might have parasites.
There is currently $500 in pledges for Sayer. In addition, an animal trainer has committed to offer a free two-hour training session to anyone who rescues, fosters and adopts Sayer.
Sayer’s information is as follows:
ID # 1333327
West Valley Animal Care and Control Center
Breed: Chow Chow and Labrador Retriever
Age: 6 years (Volunteers say he is more around 2 years old)
Date admitted: September 5, 2012
West Los Angeles Animal Care and Control Center
Direct phone number is (310) 207-3156.