teeth thrown in for looks. Bill was a large man, but he greeted me in the warm way you would expect in a small Wyoming town. “Glad you could make it down.” Bill moved from behind the small desk that was crowded into the front corner of the building. I could hear dogs barking in the back but could not see them. “No problem. I appreciate you coming in to meet me. So this dog is pretty nice huh?” Bill nodded as he started walking down the short hallway to a large metal door. “Yeah she came in as a stray. Can’t believe no one came in to claim her. When I clean her cage she just leans against me and wants petting. Doesn’t show a lick of aggression towards the other dogs.” I followed Bill back and my ears were greeted with the deafening noise of dozens of barking dogs. Each sound amplified as it bounced off the cold concrete walls. Stepping into the room I was struck by a sight that will forever haunt my memory. In front of me were cages; each only three feet square and about two feet high, stacked one on top of another. In each cage was at least one dog and many of them held multiple dogs. Most of them were small to medium size dogs. To my left was a row of larger kennels, about four feet by five feet with a concrete trough about six inches deep along the back of it. All of them were full. The first one held a beautiful German Shepherd who looked at me with deep sorrowful brown eyes. His tail wagged softly as he tried to move around in his pen. The floor of his pen was covered in dog food and I saw quickly why. The dogs were being fed and watered out of used coffee cans and the Shepherd’s head was too large to fit in and eat so he tipped it over to get at the food. Bill grabbed a leash off the wall and handed to me and then kept walking back to the last pen along the wall. As the shock of initial entry washed over me, I followed him trying not to make eye contact with any other dog. He stopped and motioned to the pen. Inside was a large but fit Rottweiler. Her head was beautiful and her nub of a tail wiggled at seeing Bill. “Do you have an exercise yard or someplace I can evaluate her?” Bill shook his head no and stood back. Perhaps out of stupidity or just a feeling of trust of the dog I opened the pen and struggled to get loop around her head. She was exuberant beyond reason, but finally I managed to get a leash on her. Once outside of the pen she acted scared as if it was all new to her. I headed towards the door with the dog half pulling, half hesitating as we went. Once into the hallway, I stopped to adjust her leash and to look her over. Bill stood behind me. “So Bill, how do you exercise the dogs? Do you have volunteers that come down or do you walk them?” “We don’t. The county considers us the bastard children when it comes to budget. They pay for me to come down three hours a day to clean and feed them and that is it.” “So where are the dogs when you clean?” “In the pens of course.” My heart sunk as the realization of the place hit me. The dogs were kept in their small pens 24 hours a day never being let out. That is why the Rottie was so scared as it was new to her to be out of the pen. Bill shared that she had been there for three weeks and that they usually euthenized after three or four days but she was so nice he kept her hoping someone would come and get her. But now they were overflowing and her time was up.
Published on Dec 25, 2009