I want to share a story about someone I’ll call Karen. That’s close to her real name, but she’s by no means that kind of Karen. She doesn’t berate the Starbucks barista for too much foam on her grande chai latte or post first world gripes on Nextdoor. Her battles have been significant -- some life-changing -- and she’s come out on the losing end.
Our Karen contacted me in July. She was living on the street in the Chinatown area of Salinas. She needed to check herself into a treatment program and surrender her dog Posey immediately, but had no way of getting him to the SPCA. We made arrangements for staff to pick-up Posey. It crushed her, but she knew it was best for him.
Every few days, we’d trade text messages. The contact brought her comfort, a lifeline to her loved companion. I gave her updates on Posey’s progress with our staff and she filled me in on pieces about his past. Abusive former owner...hesitant with strangers...only eats Little Caesars moist food...walking him and petting him used to be part of my therapy...my only true friend in life. That last text from Karen really hit me.
Karen soon moved into temporary housing while receiving professional treatment for PTSD, and she desperately wanted Posey back. Yet, we both agreed he needed a permanent home and stability, that he was safe and stable at the SPCA (and had our skilled trainers working with him!) and that we would look for an adopter once we turned him around behaviorally. He’s a strong little warrior, we’ll both come out of this mess, she texted.
Working with a local human health services agency, Karen learned that her temporary housing would allow pets and that she would transition to long-term housing in a year. I spoke with her housing advocate, case manager and clinician therapist who assured me Karen could provide adequate care for Posey; one had written a letter stating Posey was an emotional support pet. This was wonderful as Posey had stopped progressing in our care. It was going to be challenging for us to find another home for him, given his inability to connect with people, even our talented staff who had spent dozens of hours with him and our other project dogs.
I missed the reunion when Karen and her counselor came to the SPCA for Posey last week, but her words painted a picture. He couldn’t get enough traction from the floor to get to me quick enough. He whimpered and cried and wrapped his front paws around my neck. I cried, my counselor just about cried and your employee snapped a photo. It was epic.
Limiting ‘time in shelter’ while finding positive outcomes is the goal for shelters. But, it’s not always that easy. Posey was with us nearly two months. We have two dogs who’ve been with us 100+ days awaiting adoption and we’ve had horses in our care for more than three years. Your generous support enables us to be here for the long-term cases and the residents impacted by fires, floods and other crises. Thank you!