Tuesday, October 14, 2008

If only

There are times I go into Toronto Animal Services when it's hard to decide which dogs to walk, which dogs need the most attention. This happens when there are lots of dogs in-house and not enough volunteers and this happens to be right now. For some reason, adoptions have been slow the past couple of weeks and so dog numbers have gone up as more come in but few leave.

Why so few adoptions? Is it the change of weather? Is it the global economic crisis? Is it the seeming lack of strong leadership choices for prime minister (I've got voting decisions on my mind)?

Or is Toronto saturated with dogs? Well, I hope it's not that. I doubt it's that. But, then why so many good dogs at TAS and hardly anyone comes by to take a look?

I walk through the different kennel rooms and see faces staring at me, imploring me to take them out. Do I walk the easy dogs? Do I walk the more difficult dogs because they might not be getting enough attenion? Do I walk the newer dogs who may need some additional reassurances in their new environment? Do I walk the dogs that have been here longer than the rest? There are several that have been here too long. They're good dogs and should be curled up on a couch or doggie bed in their own homes by now, not curled up in a cage.

On days like this, I try to find compatible dogs and take them out two at a time. I know. Two at a time doesn't seem like much when I'm sure you've seen professional dog walkers with 5 or 6 or more but we're not talking trained dogs here. Even with just two dogs, I spend most of time untangling leashes from dogs and from myself as they go right, left, under, over, around. With two dogs, it's like four times as much work as one dog but it actually is a more efficient use of time and time is what I need if I'm to get as many as possible of these dogs out for walks. The dogs appreciate the company, too. It's more exciting for them especially if they hit it off and start playing with each other. But of course two dogs playing on leash just adds to the entanglement so basically it's a mess all round.

It would be nice if TAS South got an exercise yard, especially for crowded days like this, to allow the sociable dogs to hang out with each other. Then they wouldn't be so bored, they'd get lots of play time with each other and the volunteers could do more dog training as opposed to just walking the dogs for exercise and washroom breaks. Yes, there would be more risk of spreading communicable diseases as well as dog fights but that would have to be monitored. The ill dogs and the anti-dog dogs would have to stay in their individual kennels although it would be great, actually, if the even those dogs had access to their own private outdoor run via a doggie door. There's so much room down on the CNE grounds, where TAS is located, that you'd think it wouldn't be too difficult to allocate some of it to an outdoor dog exercise yard especially since most of it now is just vast swaths of parking lot spaces which sit empty most of the time. With an outdoor exercise/play yard, TAS could become a place where dogs actually got healthier and happier with each passing day and all those mournful faces I see staring out from behind bars would disappear.

The ideal set-up would be just like a well-run doggie day care.

I'll put that on my wish list along with the million dollar lottery win and world peace.

Now I have to decide who to vote for.


Caveat said...

You might try setting up some of that temp steel fencing they use around construction sites to see how it goes. I think you can even rent it, not sure. It's sturdy and they aren't going to knock it over.

Fights are rare between dogs, especially when they're not on leashes and any communicable diseases will spread in the kennel anyway.

Do you guys vaccinate for bordatella and parvo?

Fred said...

I believe that all dogs coming in get their full set of shots unless it's an owner surrender with papers. I don't think the increased risk of infection or fights is a big deal with proper screening and supervision - after all, it works in doggie day cares across the nation, but supervision means additional employees and I suspect that might be the deal breaker.

But, who knows, the day might come ...

Caveat said...

Wouldn't the volunteers who walk dogs be able to supervise? It would actually be a more efficient use of valuable volunteer time because more dogs could get attention from fewer people.

I'm sure you have already thought of that, though.

Fred said...

That's totally the idea, and I'd certainly be up for it but we are still talking about a municipal bureaucracy and I imagine there'll be a few rules and regulations and liability issues that will have to be dealt with first.

Social Mange said...

TAS South is doing a great job. Have they ever been on Animal Housecalls on City TV or tried for some media coverage to advertise that they do adopt out dogs, cats, rabbits and such? A lot of people don't know that the shelter adopts out.

Fred said...

TAS does go on Animal Housecalls I think fairly regularly (one of my dogs, before I adopted him, was actually on the show). Unfortunately, the message is slow getting out about TAS adoptions. Most people still think Humane Society whenever they think about dog adoptions and don't realize there are other places they could look as well.