A County animal shelter ended the life of a dog, named Jayden. He was failed by humans in general, throughout his short life, and then ultimately destroyed by the Animal Welfare System. Jayden was deemed unworthy of rehabilitation because of his past biting incidents and history.
I first became aware of Jayden’s plight, as I had been following the slow downward spiral of a young couple posing as Pit Bull advocates and had 13 Pit Bulls that they had rescued and were fostering and rehabilitating into forever homes. This was certainly what they portrayed to many of us, so much so, that many assisted them in raising almost $400 for a supposed kennel run to house the dogs in safely.
When another crisis sent them seeking desperate assistance for their 13 ‘rescued’ Pit Bulls, in an announcement that they were now being immediately evicted for what we now know was neighbor complaints of flies, and dog feces and filth on the property. It was very apparent that these individuals were nothing other than irresponsible and reckless individuals completely out of control and in no way responsible enough to have 1 Pit Bull let alone 13 in their care.
They netted another $175 from the public claiming the funds would be used for boarding the dogs safely while moving if needed. It soon became abundantly clear that they were only thinning out the herd by keeping the more desirables and dumping the more troubled. They soon relinquished two of the dogs to Santa Cruz Animal Control, but lied to the public, claiming it was a No-Kill facility and that they had no choice.
It was during this entire train wreck that I was directly involved in. While, I wanted to keep these dogs safe and agreed to help them raise the funds for the safety of the dogs, it was becoming increasingly clear that these were very distorted and twisted individuals that had no business having 1 dog as a pet, let alone attempting rescuing the one breed of dog that is the most abused dogs on this earth. It really hit home after they dumped the two dogs, that were supposed to have had temperament issues at the county kill shelter while collecting money to ensure their safety.
Jayden was another unfortunate victim of theirs that ended up dumped on an unsuspecting friend of theirs for what was supposed to be 3 days, but then turned into three weeks and they still refused to take the dog back from her. They told her to take him to the shelter, they couldn’t help her.
Jayden, who was used to nothing other than being crated 24/7, finally had freedom and relished every minute of it. During his short three weeks in this home, he was personable, affectionate, loved and longed for attention, and wanted desperately to please. He got along fine with her other dogs, and children, ate and slept openly, and everything seemed in harmony. So well, that this person did not mind him and actually enjoyed his presence and resigned herself to just letting him stay with her until he could find a home.
Unfortunately, with Jayden’s newfound freedom came inadequacy at being properly socialized and a fight between him and her older dog developed. This individual did what any person with inexperience dealing with a dog fight would do, and she made the mistake of trying to get between the dogs, and Jayden bit her calf, quite severely. The dog did not maul her leg and it was one bite that was a deep tissue puncture wound and the bite did require medical treatment and stitches. Jayden was able to be subdued and removed from the house immediately after the bite, and did not redirect his aggression at anyone or anything else in the home.
When this woman contacted the Turners, pleading for them to get Jayden or that she would have to contact animal control, as she had no experience dealing with such a serious matter. They ignored her pleas.
She surrendered the dog to Santa Cruz Animal Control. She explained where he originated from, in which they instantly recognized the name of the couple from their previous incidents with them. Because of her deep affection for Jayden, she neglected to tell them of the biting incident for she feared they would not give him a chance and would euthanize him.
The animal networking community became aware of the biting incident as some of us were closely following the situation and the dogs. I really felt the dog deserved a chance at quality rehabilitation and not the neglectful treatment he had endured in his short life. We began a campaign to ensure his rescue and hopeful rehabilitation.
I talked extensively with the shelter manager in regards to Jayden’s extensive bite history that Wednesday on the 14Th. She represented the shelters anger at being deceived of the dog’s biting history, but they were cooperative and receptive to possibly releasing the dog to a rehabilitative organization and facility.
She did, however, make repeated statements expressing extreme resentment for the increased interest being paid to this dog, while they had perfectly well-balanced dogs in the shelter needing interest and saved. The telephone calls began to take on a disturbing tone in the days ahead.
The shelter represented that the dog would be eligible for possible release to a qualified rescue after quarantine on the 16Th at 4pm. On that Friday the 16Th I represented Dog’s Best Friend Rehabilitation and placed the call along with another Rescue organization to Santa Cruz Animal Shelter, in attempts to begin negotiations for Jayden’s release to us. We were treated with open disregard, obvious contempt, hostility, and blatant resentment for even wanting to save this dog.
We were ridiculed for our efforts and treated without any common courtesy of professionalism.
The shelter manager informed me after considering the circumstances, the director decided that morning that Jayden would not be eligible for release to any organization ever. When I asked for clarification, she stated that he would not be made available, and refused to commit to anything other than, ‘”He would not be available”‘.
When asked why the dog was not being afforded a second chance at rehabilitation, she stated, sarcastically and emphatically, “He had more than his second chances, he has had tons of chances”. However, she couldn’t acknowledge that such irresponsible handling of a dog would be deemed as appropriate rehabilitative efforts for a dog such as this.
Jayden was shuttled in and out of irresponsible environments and crated the majority of his short formative years, yet these were his “supposed chances”. She asked numerous times, “Why would we want to save this dog?” Her obvious disdain for any effort at doing so was grossly apparent, obviously in her mind, he was deemed as totally unworthy.
I asked to speak with the shelter director that made the decision, she stated that I could not, that he would not be back until after 3pm and I was welcome to phone back and speak with him then.
When I phoned back at 3:01 I spoke with the same shelter manager, she said she would see if the director was back and placed me on hold for a period of time. She then came back on the line, and asked for my full name, and the organization’s name, I spelled it for her. She then placed me back on hold again. After about 3 minutes later of additional hold time, another woman whom I had never spoken with came on the line and was unbelievably even more unprofessional than the previous.
She stated the director was not back and he would not be able to help me anyways, that Jayden would never be available and that he was already euthanized at 1pm that afternoon. The obvious enjoyment and unprofessional manner in which she relayed this communication to me, bordered on the bizarre, and I actually found it to be the disturbing thing of this entire incident.
Instead of being enthused in an outside organization wanting to preserve a troubled dogs life, they instead, resented it. They chose this valuable time to debate and chastise us for wanting to save such a dog, when so many more are worthier of being saved, criticizing a dog’s right to live, regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
Nobody can make themselves judge and jury to a dog biting incident(s) in which they were not privy to or directly involved in to understand the extenuating circumstances and the dynamic that goes into dog aggression. We as rescuers and those that rehabilitate understand this fundamental logic, yet, it’s disturbing to think that an animal shelter agency would not.
Their unprofessional and very emotionally charged dialog began to display their obvious frustration at the animal shelter system in America today. It appeared that the dog in question, seized to be a living being with a right to life, but instead a symbol or tool, to them, to reserve and prove the right to judge his fate, in this broken system today.
They deemed themselves worthy of playing God, and deemed a dog not worthy of life. They verbally chastised a Rescue organization that only wished the opportunity to save him. They lectured about the Pit Bull Crisis in general, and how shamed we should be that we are not wishing to save the good ones languishing in shelters. How dare we not want to help those dogs, assuming such ignorance is how we think.
This incident in a dog’s welfare at the County level, only instilled a very common and disturbing theme in practice all over, and that is that we as human beings in positions of authority over their very existence are holding these ‘dogs’ completely responsible for their destructive actions, regardless of the direct link of their actions originating from the irresponsible handling by the humans themselves. We create them, in their entirety, instilling more destruction, and yet, we are blaming them for our faults. This is a disturbing analogy for a County Animal Shelter system to be operating under.
Is it any wonder at the high-kill rate that exists in these government funded shelters, considering such unsympathetic and archaic thought patterns that are operating behind some of them. To move past such barbarity and small-minded thinking, one has to start over in these mentalities and behaviors found at the county level. It seems to be a common pattern that is operating in 90% of them throughout the US. Not all county shelters exist under such a mindset and some are unique and truly innovative in their philosophies, and treatment of these living beings, and they are truly pioneers, striving to make a difference, not just to exist in the status quo environment of ‘the system’.
They treated us with disdain, contempt and utter hostility, when all we wanted to do was save a dog’s life. They deemed our work with rehabilitating dogs as worthless and useless to society. That essentially, killing them is far more effective in accomplishing and promoting respect of animal welfare and the sanctity of all living beings.
How dare they make such an assumption, as if we could be as callous as them to pick and choose our battles. Are we not all battling the same thing? The absolute abuse, neglect, mistreatment of the most abused dog on the planet? We would give anything to be able to solve and rescue the overpopulation of the Pit Bulls all over the world. But we cannot, but we can try and help the most disadvantaged ones, the most troubled ones and give back to the most abused, mistreated, vilified, and persecuted breed of dog, in demonstrating their worthiness of life, even in the most extreme cases. I can think of no better testament to the breed.
Instead we were condemned, as this dog’s fate was too. I found myself hoping that they did not display such hostility to that very scared and frightened dog, that felt such fear, that he lashed out in it. It was not hate, a dog knows no such thing as hate, it’s only fear that they feel so powerless against.
I tried to ask this last woman I spoke with if someone held Jayden and showed him love and comfort when they euthanized him, for Jayden did show love, and loved affection and loved kindness, he was not wildly and uncontrollably vicious, but she never gave me the chance, she hung up on me.
I exposed this couples scam and dangerous and reckless behaviors in a previous article titled “Tough Lessons Learned in Rescuing Pit Bulls”. I ended that article with these words, yet I had no idea how prophetic they might be: “God forbid it will take the deaths of these dogs for this to hit home with anyone, and I hope and pray for their sake this is not the ending scenario, for no one will be more devastated than I, to think I had direct knowledge of their situation and being at that shelter, and to know that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Jayden’s journey to Jeff and Dog’s Best Friend Rehabilitation in Irving, TX was in process, we undertook the process in securing him $300 in sponsorship funds to get him pulled out of the county facility by a Rescue Organization finally willing to help us in California. We had the secure and responsible foster in place and we were going to somehow, someway eventually get this dog to Texas to hopefully a new life that he deserved, even after everyone else, including the Turners in being the most responsible for dumping and turning their backs on him.
It was a very special mission and goal, for this dog, that obviously had gotten shuffled around and aside for all of his life. We were excited and determined in Jeff’s optimism in rehabilitating Jayden. Jeff gave his full assurance that even if such a transformation did not take place, that Jayden would always live out the remainder of his life with him, safe and in comfort, without fail. How could one argue with such dedication of someone willing to take this dog on without any monetary assurances or financial backing, a further testament of his belief in this dog’s promise and the belief in his own abilities.
But, in Jayden’s Journey it did not end in the way we all had hoped or thought it would. However, his life and his struggles and his ultimate death will serve a greater mission and purpose. It will bring awareness of such tragedies, in hopes ones such as his can be avoided in the future. So many lessons and wisdom to be obtained in his very struggle to live.
We asked the public to believe in Jayden in deserving of a second chance. The tremendous outpouring of sadness and outrage over this dog’s death, has proven we did believe in you, Jayden. We will always continue believing in dogs like you and we will work tirelessly in promotion of this, without fail, for as long as it is needed.
Rest in peace sweet friend. Thank you for the wisdom and the lessons you shared in having you in my life, even if it was from afar.
Shelley Bright/Dog Examiner
Sadly, we can do nothing now for Jayden except to try to make sure that he did not die in vain. You can contact the Santa Cruz Animal Control and let them know what you think about them killing a dog that so many had been working so hard to save. Ego and power plays have no place in animal shelters and animal welfare organizations! Either people are in it for the animals or they should get out!
Santa Cruz Animal Control Services
P.O. Box 703
Santa Cruz, CA 95061
County Administrative Officer
County of Santa Cruz
701 Ocean Street, Room 250
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Please take a moment to sign the petition to turn the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter to a No-Kill Shelter