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Sticking to Our Day Job

The Peninsula Humane Society responds to last week's column about coloring animals.

Turns out, we’re much better at matchmaking than we are at styling. 

Going forward, we will not be coloring adoptable dogs. Tan Chihuahuas will remain tan Chihuahuas and we will work harder than ever to showcase their wonderful qualities without resorting to tricks.  We won’t give dogs highlights. We won’t remove spots, add spots, lighten gray muzzles or add a touch of gray for that distinguished look. Blondes will remain blondes.

Full disclosure here: Last week’s column was a test drive of sorts, and it crashed.  We floated the idea of applying a temporary dye to dogs to see how the local dog community would react. We were called bozos, and that was one of the nicer comments. Someone asked if our mustard-colored dog was sick! Seriously, we truly appreciated all the feedback.  You spoke (or typed), and we listened.

The wacky idea of coloring dogs came up during a weekly management meeting -and a weak moment during that meeting - when our shelter manager announced our total dog population (a combination of dogs available for adoption at our new center plus dogs awaiting adoption or disposition at our Coyote Point intake facility) reached 300!

Of course, we would never do anything to harm animals; the dye we researched was actually made for pets by a reputable animal products manufacturer. The dye is not permanent.

Now, if you adopt one of our dogs and play with colored highlights on him or her, we’re good with that.  Our concern, as always, is that our animals go to homes with people who will commit to them, love them and make them part of their family. 

P.S. Although our dog population dropped from 300 to 275, thanks to a number of wonderful matches this past week, that mustard-colored “hot” dog, Peety, still needs a home. His color will fade in a few weeks, but you’ll have his sparkling personality, love and devotion for many years!

Howard Takenaka December 31, 2012 at 08:00 AM
How many dogs went blind, suffered skin lesions and chemical burns and lost fur to finally determine the dyes were safe? You would never do anything to harm animals but what about the dye manufacturer whose clear motive is profit and not the welfare of animals.
Jeanie December 31, 2012 at 09:16 AM
I found a male tan chihuahau / jack Russell mix yesterday morning in south San Francisco. I had him follow my dog home. This dog was a bit skittish and cautious. I manage to get it in my home and fed him. Was able to put a leash on him and pet him but I could tell he was scared that he snapped at me and gave me a small puncture wound. I ended taking him to PHS where they informed me that they are a "not a no kill facility" meaning they will put him down if no one claims him. He will now be quarretine for 10 days due to his biting me. I only hope that his owner will claim him. It's so sad, I plan to post his photos in my neighborhood to find his owner. I just wished I brought him in to SF SPCA, I think he would have a better chance of survival.
Lynne B. C. January 01, 2013 at 12:02 AM
They have a huge, huge sign in the lobby of the old adoption center that clearly explains they are not a no kill shelter. After spending alot of time there recently I have seen that almost nobody who comes in (to relinquish an animal, for vet services or lost and found) reads the sign. The staff explains it all to them before they sign over the animal. They do everything but beg the person to find ANY OTHER WAY to rehome the animal due to the many factors that may cause this animal to be stressed out during their shelter time or not adopted out at all. During the time I was there not one person turned around and took the animal home with them. They almost all felt ambivalent about turning the animal over but in every case they did just that. The zeal for a no-kill shelter is high, but the reality of what that means escapes many. I'm not sure if the policy is different when someone brings in a stray dog that has bitten them, but I hope you, Jeanie, do not feel too bad about doing what you did. It was more than many would have done, and even a small puncture wound is not something any shelter staff would have shrugged off. Not at PHS and not at SFSPCA. It doesn't automatically mean the dog is going to be put down, but I am happy that they behaviorally evaluate the dogs before they adopt them out. I would not want that small puncture wound to be inflicted on the face of the first kid who tried to pet that dog. Or on me, for that matter.
Scott Delucchi January 04, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Dog Lover, As others have said in response to your post, I too, have no idea what you are trying to say. Some specifics would help. PHS/SPCA experienced one significant management change (and, with it, a philosophical shift re: adoptions) 10 yrs ago. PHS/SPCA had been criticized for making the adoption process too difficult, seeking ways to turn people down and for too many rules. For example, we required that we speak with a landlord before adopting to a renter and we turned away people who would not keep indoor-only cats. Anyone could easily have a friend pose as the landlord. In the end, these rules did little to protect animals and put people in a position to lie or just buy a pet from someone else. We changed this. We removed many long-standing policies and focused on finding ways to say yes. Adoptions greatly increased. Ten years ago (actually for decades before that), we were also criticized for having a sad, depressing, overwhelming place to visit. It took us longer to fix that, but we did when we opened our center in Burlingame in 2011. We’re open 7 days/wk, unlike many centers which have limited days/hours. We set adoption fees lower than most Bay Area centers because we care much less about collecting fees than finding good homes. We currently have no fees for cats, kittens and Chihuahuas. We’re not perfect and are open to learning how we can improve. If you don’t have time to write a response with details, please feel free to call me at 650/685-8510.
Scott Delucchi January 04, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Jeanie, First, thanks for taking the dog from harm's way where he could have easily been hit by a car. At our intake facility, we make every effort to be completely transparent. We make no promises and tell people that our shelter should be their last resort. When we have a good idea that we cannot make an animal available for adoption due to health, temperament or challenging behaviors beyond our ability to treat given we have limited resources and many animals (265 dogs today; 500+ animals overall) we openly provide this information to folks who bring animals to us. Everyone -- myself included -- would love for us to be able to "fix" every animal, but it's simply not possible, again, given limited resources and the sheer number of animals brought to us. So-called no kill facilities can only maintain this status by limiting admissions and focusing on animals who need little or no work and can easily be placed into new homes. I can't say this for sure, but doubt any in the Bay Area would have accepted this dog which bit you.

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