Animal Stories from Healdsburg Animal Shelter

The Dog Walker tells tales of his experiences with "Big Dogs with Issues" at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter.

This is the first in a series of blogs about my experiences at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter (HAS).  

If you are looking for stories about boards of directors, buildings, politics, or City Council meetings, this is not for you.  If you want to hear stories about animals,c'mon down.

My first story is about a pitbull named Ladybug which some of you have heard about through my efforts to raise money for her, but for everyone else I will start at the beginning.

Ladybug came to HAS as an owner surrender.  She had been attacked by her kennelmate, a large Rhodesion Ridgeback and had been seriously injured.  She was also in heat to add to her discomfort.  As is policy at HAS, she was given a behavior assessment which indicated that she was agressive and dangerous.

Fortunately, the staff decided to go ahead and have her spayed, despite the fact that she was on the dangerous dog list.  As her wounds healed and she became more acclimated to her environment, there were signs that her behavior was improving.

As a volunteer with a lot of experience with "large dogs with issues," I was given permission to start walking her and working with her on socialization and training. She started making progress and the staff asked me to take her up to Ukiah for another behavior assessment.  

Leslie Dodd, the trainer at Ukiah Humane Society, let me be her handler during the assessment and she did well.  Even handling an introduction to a very aggressive male pit bull with no aggressive reaction from her.  Leslie stated that she "wants to please and is willing to learn."

Mike Ossenbeck, a dog trainer who was working with volunteers at HAS helped me with giving her additional training and got as attached to her as I did.  His assessment was as favorable as Leslie's.

The next barrier for her was an HAS policy that stated that once a dog was put on the dangerous animal list, they could never be adopted.  The staff went to the board with a request that this poicy be changed so that a dog could get a second chance -- and the board responded immediately with the new policy.

So she was now off the list, but needed to be transerred to another group for what we euphemistically call "finishing school." Leslie agreed to take her, but needed funding to cover the expenses.  

Through the generosity of my friends and neighbors -- as well as HAS donors -- we raised the money and I took her up to Ukiah.  She rode in the front seat of my convertible (see picture) like the princess she had become.  She was dog friendly, could do Sit, Stay, Down, and Shake and was well loved by all of the volunteers and staff at HAS.

In Ukiah, she was greated by Leslie and two of her staff, all pitbull lovers, who immediately fell in love with her.  She was showing off her tricks and bestowing kisses on everyone. 

In a followup call, I was told that she was doing great, going on doggie play days, visiting and getting along well with other dogs.  She is now on the adoption list, with the proviso that the new owners must be interviewed by Leslie.

The last step for this beautiful girl is finding that perfect family which will give her the love and attention she so richly deserves.  I will definitely write a blog at that time.

By the way, you may be asking the question of why didn't I adopt her?  

I live in an apartment that does not allow me to have a dog.  If it wasn't for that, I couldn't work at HAS because I would have adopted 20 dogs by now.

For more information on HAS, see these links:



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Laura C. Strom December 14, 2012 at 09:07 AM
Jack, thank you for your wonderful volunteer work on behalf of these dogs. Ladybug was certainly lucky that you went to bat for her. And the HAS board is to be commended for being open-minded about changing policies mid-stream. Anyone could understand why the dog likely responded the way she did initially. I'm glad she got a second chance. And she looks very stylish in your convertible! Wonderful work, and it's great to hear about your experiences!
Thomas Cole February 22, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Thanks, Jack, for vesting so much of yourself in Ladybug's care. It is very heartwarming to read about how you pulled many people together to save her life. This truly sounds like a community project! Good for Leslie for taking her on, and kudos for the HAS board for not letting policy stand in the way of saving a valable life. Thanks for pulling together everyone for the donations, too. All around, a great outcome for what could easily have been a tragically typical story.


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