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THE VIEW FROM MY SEAT

A little pooch gets lucky

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

I had read that a University of Texas School of Public Health survey found 37 percent of respondents listed stray dogs and cats as their most frequent neighborhood problem, even beating out crime.

I didn’t believe it at the time. I do now.

On a recent steamy afternoon, my wife, Kelly, spotted a puppy in the middle of a busy street in our Pearland neighborhood. It was scampering toward her car. The puppy was in danger, but good fortune awaited. It had picked the right car to approach.
With cars behind her, Kelly faced the kind of heartbreaking dilemma more and more of us are facing: What to do with what appeared to be a stray animal. Kelly needed to make a quick decision.

Option 1: She could ignore the situation and leave the puppy in the street in hopes it belonged to someone and had gotten loose. Maybe the owners would find it. Maybe it could find its way home.

This risked the puppy getting hit by a car. And, of course, maybe the puppy no longer had owners. Maybe it had been dumped in the neighborhood. It didn’t have a collar.

Option 2: Kelly could bring it home, give it water and figure out what to do next. The downside of this was that it lessened the chances of searchers – if there were any – finding the puppy.

Kelly brought it home. It was the humane decision but meant somebody else’s problem was now ours.

Judging by statistics, we are in a Third World country when it comes to pets.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, 3.3 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.

Approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).

The Houston area is Ground Zero for the problem. The city’s shelter estimates there are 1 million stray dogs. Every year Houston leads the country in the number of mail carriers bitten by strays.

So what to do with the puppy? The puppy still had her milk teeth, but it was obvious she had already endured tough times. She was thirsty, and her coat looked as if she had been out in rainstorms.

.Still, she captured our hearts.

There was no way we could keep her. With me in a wheelchair from my spinal cord injury, Kelly has more than enough to deal with. And our three rescued cats would be none too pleased either. An added complication: Kelly had an early morning flight the next day and would be gone for several days.

While considering our next move, we posted the puppy’s picture on our neighborhood Facebook group, hoping somebody would claim her. No luck.

Kelly called shelters. I doubt we would have taken the puppy to a shelter, but it turned out that wasn’t an option. Shelters were closing for the day.

We rushed to the Shadow Creek Veterinary Clinic to get the puppy checked for a microchip. No chip. No surprise.

After explaining our situation, a helpful clinic employee rescued the rescuers. She arranged for a local rescue group to get the puppy. We were assured there would be no problem placing the puppy with a good family.

It was a happy ending, but an emotionally exhausting two hours. A week has passed, but I still reflect on the incident.

Mostly, I am angry. Angry at those who dump responsibilities on others. Angry at those who don’t have their pets spayed or neutered. Angry at those who don’t get pets chipped. Angry that too many Americans (34 percent) get dogs from breeders when shelters euthanize dogs by the thousands.

Also, I am worried. Worried about the fate of the puppy that endeared herself to us and deserved a better hand than she had been dealt. And I still worry that maybe, just maybe, the puppy wasn’t homeless and had just gotten loose.

What was intended as a good deed may mean a young child is missing a puppy.

I hope not.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com)