We drove around the block twice and saw nothing. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a woman tapped on the rear window of the truck as we paused at a stop sign.
“You lookin’ for that dog on the pole? He’s over there,” she said, pointing to the street corner we had just past.
We thanked her and drove over again. Just as we were turning the corner, I spotted him: a big dog on a short chain cowering near a bush to try to escape the hot sun.
The officer parked the car and we walked over. Multiple calls had come in that morning and all during the previous night about this dog, abandoned at this spot and barking continuously. He was quiet now, probably having barked himself hoarse. When he saw us approaching he got up and squeaked out a raspy warning, as unsure of us as we were of him.
Neighbors came out of their homes and told us about being kept awake all night by the barking dog. One woman had tried to give it water but the dog hadn’t been that interested. Others were afraid to get too close for fear of being bitten. A man brought a fresh bowl of water out and the dog took advantage of it this time. Everyone felt sorry for it. But no one knew whose dog it was, nor had they seen anyone drop it off.
The officer and I talked to the dog and I tried to distract it while the officer untangled the chain. When we finally got the dog off the heavy chain and on a leash, he pulled me clear across the street. Hungry and dehydrated, he was still strong. We realized he was slightly emaciated and suffering from dermatitis; patches of fur were missing from his legs and back. But he was still a handsome gray pit bull or pit bull mix.
“Why would someone do this?” one of the neighbors asked. “Just leave the poor thing tied to a pole on a sidewalk? There are lots of other, less mean options.”
I agreed. Who knows why people do the things they do. I have long given up trying to find explanations.
The officer and I took the dog to the Animal Care and Control facility, which is different from the SPCA. The Animal Control team handles abandonment cases. I realized that being sent to their facility meant a high probability of euthanasia because it is constantly filled to capacity, and there is a severe shortage of rescue groups with available space. Instantly sad, I thought of the rotten life this dog had been given. Exposed to nothing but neglect, he now stood a good chance of being put down, simply because there was no room for him. Yes, it’s possible he may be adopted, or sent to another facility, but the odds were against it. He had probably never known kindness. Probably never known fun, or what it is like to sleep on a bed or a blanket, or how it feels to have a child wrap pudgy arms around his neck. And there are thousands just like him. I managed to see him wag his tail by the time we arrived at the animal control shelter. A tentative “happy-tail”. Happy in the face of uncertainty. He didn’t know what his fate held for him. I didn’t either. It was hard not to cry because all I could do was hope – hope for him and hope that someday I won’t ever have to wonder.