My husband and I were looking for a dog to adopt, and had decided that we would like a female Husky.
We started searching Petfinder and the York County, PA, SPCA site for potential dogs. At the York SPCA, they had a female Husky who'd been surrendered by her family. I made the trip to the SPCA to see the dog with a co-worker, and my heart melted when I saw her. While all of the other dogs were barking up a storm, she was lying in her cage, silent. She did come up and sniff my hand.
My husband had given me his approval to start the paperwork if I thought she'd be a good fit. I walked back out to the counter to ask if I could meet her, take her for a walk, play with her, etc. to be sure she was for us. At the counter, I was told that I had to complete an adoption application before being able to interact with the dog, and that since she was a Husky, my application must be approved by the director before ever interacting with her.
The person at the counter explained this was a new policy developed because they'd allowed one woman to adopt two Huskies. She wasn't aware that Huskies are extremely intelligent and high energy. She adopted these two dogs, and then proceeded to allow them to be outside, in a fenced yard, all day, every day, with no interaction and mental stimulation. The two dogs, apparently being bored, saw the neighbor's dog and managed to escape the fenced yard. They then killed the neighbor's dog, and ended up being euthanized themselves. Thus, the SPCA had developed this policy of reviewing applications where the dog to be adopted was a Husky. Little did I know that I'd only heard the first part of this policy, and that the second part would come back to haunt me.
I completed the required paperwork, but was somewhat disheartened that I couldn't even interact with the dog to be sure she was a good fit. I headed back to work, with a promise of hearing back from them within two or three days.
The following day, I received a phone call stating that because we did not have a fenced-in yard, they were unable to allow us to adopt a Husky. When they'd called our landlord to verify that we could own a dog, they asked about the yard.
My initial reaction was one of disbelief. I believe my comment to the person on the other end of the phone was, "Wait a minute. A woman leaves two Huskies in a fenced yard with no mental stimulation, and they kill another dog and then have to be euthanized, and you're telling me I can't adopt a Husky because I don't have a fenced yard? Wasn't a big problem that the woman had a fenced yard and thought she could leave them in the fenced yard unattended all day?"
The person on the phone suggested that I look at one of their other dogs, but stated that our landlord said we couldn't have Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, or German Shepherds due to his insurance policy, so they wouldn't allow us to adopt any of those dogs either. The problem was, at the time, probably 75% of their dogs were listed as Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes. The Husky we wanted to adopt ended up in a rescue for months, and I eventually stopped checking to see if she was still with the rescue.
The story does have a happy ending for two other dogs, though. A few weeks later, we happened to be in Pittsburgh, PA, and discovered that there was a Pet Expo being held at the convention center. We headed there on Sunday, and after walking around for quite a while, looking at adoptable dogs from area shelters, we found a Husky / Lab mix at Brooke County Animal Shelter's booth. Named Patsy, but labeled as a neutered male, my husband insisted we ask about the dog. The woman at the booth kept referring to the dog as "she" or saying "her." Finally, my husband interrupted and stated, "You say 'she' but the paper on the crate says 'he.' Which is it?" The woman blurted out, "Oh, no! Patsy! I made you a male today!" and reassured us that Patsy was very much a spayed female. We led Patsy out for a walk, and as soon as we were away from other dogs, she plopped down to the ground and rolled over to show us her belly. After that, and trying a new name on her, Cobaka, we decided that she was ours. We adopted her, no hassles. Brooke County Animal Shelter in Follansbee, WV, shows that they really care for the dogs and don't need to create new policies to stand in the way of adopting out the animals in their care. They operate on a shoestring budget, but go above and beyond to try to avoid euthanizing any animal.
I did say that our story has a happy ending for two dogs! Knowing how Brooke County does so much on so little, I try to send dog food, donations and such whenever I can. In 2008, we stopped by the shelter on our way out to Sandusky, Ohio to drop off food and other supplies. My parents were dog-sitting for us, and the shelter director started telling us about when they picked up Cobaka. They picked her up with another dog. They figured it was her sister, since they had similar colorings and the other dog had one blue eye and one brown eye. Unfortunately, while Cobaka was incredibly outgoing, her sister was incredibly shy. She was so shy they weren't able to adopt her successfully, and though they hated to, they did euthanize her.
After hearing about Cobaka's sister, we both felt extremely guilty, thinking that if we'd been able to adopt both of them, perhaps she'd have warmed up to us by watching her sister interact with us. I checked Brooke County's pet listing occasionally, and I stumbled onto Geno, a Shepherd / Rottie mix. His listing stated that he was very shy and that he'd been there since December 2006. Looking at the photos of him, you could tell he was trying to hide behind the person holding him. Since we now owned a house and had room for another dog, I tried to convince my husband to adopt Geno. He kept saying no, but we both felt so guilty about Cobaka's sister, that he finally said we could foster him.
When I called the shelter in January 2009, Geno had just been placed in a foster home and his foster mom was probably going to adopt him. They encouraged us to foster another dog, but none of them called out to us like Geno's photos did. In March, Geno's foster mom had a schedule change at work and decided that it was best for him if someone else fostered him because she couldn't give him the attention he deserved. Brooke County Animal Shelter allowed her to just give him to us to foster, rather than insisting she bring him back to the shelter and then insisting that we pick him up from the shelter.
Geno met us for the first time on the Ides of March, but it was his lucky day. On May 10, 2009 (Mother's Day this year, and our wedding anniversary), my husband agreed we could add to our family—he agreed that Geno had found his “furever" home with us. So, while York County SPCA denied our application, Brooke County was open to allowing us to adopt and we were able to save two other dogs.
York County, PA