A family from California goes on vacation to Hawaii and discovers an adorable little beagle in Hilo on the big island. They believe they have fallen in love and adopt her, bringing her back to their home in San Bernardino County.
But then some six years later, they decide to go back to Hawaii for a six-week vacation, and what do they do with their beloved dog? Obviously, finding a sitter or boarding are pricey options. Instead, they decide to simply surrender her to their local shelter rather than find a place for her while they are away.
Sounds too terrible to be true? Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened at the San Bernardino Animal Shelter to a dog named Toots.
It all started in early June 2017 when a man brought Toots in to the shelter, which is publicly funded. This means it is open-admission and contractually obliged to receive any animal that is surrendered on its premises. This also means that the shelter euthanizes animals that have not been adopted in order to make space for new arrivals.
In this case, the family who owned Toots was going to be gone until the end of July. Andrea Neyses, an animal welfare advocate and friend of the shelter, managed to film the surrender, without revealing the identity of the man giving up Toots, and posted it on Facebook. She started her post, clearly angry and shaken by what she had witnessed. “TODAY I SAW THE MOST SELFISH OF HUMANS,” she began.
In the video, a clearly unnerved Toots shuffles about uncomfortably amidst the barking of other dogs in the shelter. When Neyses learns the man’s reasons, she asks in disbelief, “That’s a reason to give up your dog?” When Neyses asks if the man has considered boarding, he simply says that they don’t want her anymore.
“It’s just her whole life with you?” Neyses asks, seemingly hoping to get some kind of response from the callous owner. As though abandoning the dog they had promised to take care of wasn’t enough, Neyses wrote, “[T]hey got a new dog they are keeping to take with them. Who can look in her face and know [you’re] their whole world and still walk away?”
Trying desperately not to lash out, she bids farewell, “You have a real nice vacation.”
تم النشر بواسطة Andrea Neyses في السبت، ٣ يونيو ٢٠١٧
This shocking video provoked widespread outrage on social media and soon had hundreds of thousands of views. Thankfully, all the attention about Toots’s case had dozens of people lining up to adopt her. The sight of her frightened, sad look caught the attention of a Southern California organization that wasn’t going to let Toots disappear.
Before the shelter even closed that day, Neyses was able to share the great information. “Toots is so very scared but grateful she didn’t sleep at shelter one night,” she wrote. “Rescued at close of business by amazing rescue.” The non-profit dog sanctuary that picked up this heartbroken dog is called Chiquita’s Friends Animal Rescue and is based in Malibu.
Run by Geraldine Gilliland, a renowned chef who owns an Irish pub and Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica, this organization is a home for animals who have nowhere else to go. Like Toots, most of the dogs at Chiquita’s Friends would otherwise have been euthanized or died on the streets.
While Toots was rescued in a timely manner, many other dogs aren’t so lucky. The San Bernardino Shelter where she was surrendered has been in financial difficulty for years and is being taken over by neighboring Riverside County Animal Services, according to the San Bernardino Sun.
With rumors of the shelter’s plans to euthanize all its remaining animals circulating on social media, animal advocates came out in droves to adopt on May 9, 2019. While the rumors have been denied by the county, it’s clear that these pets deserve a better home than a small enclosure in a crowded shelter.
One can hope that Toots won’t be the only dog fortunate enough to find a guardian angel.
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