Almost a year ago, I decided to have dog adoptions at every country music concert I do. These are held at least two days a week at one of the largest truck stops in the nation, TravelCenters Of America in Ontario, where over 2,500 drivers visit on a regular basis.
I know that truckers need pets and as a service to these folks I enjoy bringing healthy dogs complete with food, bowls, and even a toy or two so a driver does not have to stop for at least a week with his new pet. A dog is a built-in security system which allows a trucker to idle his truck and a dog provides a friend for those endless hours of driving our highways to provide the needs of all of us, A privilege was granted by the truck stop owners and one that can change the world by saving at least a few dogs from the thousands that have to be put to sleep every day in just our Southern California alone. Yet it is a struggle for us to get shelters or rescue groups to be able to come and bring some dogs for a day to help the dogs get new lives. What happened to the purpose of saving dogs?
Shelters have been hit hard by the economy. Not only has funding been cut but the increase of pets turned in has grown tremendously. Many rescue groups face the same dilemma plus they rely totally on volunteers. Volunteers are hard to find when so many people are out of work. What I have created is a wonderful venue for anyone with dogs to come and save many dogs from death. If these shelters would hire two people at minimum wage, and they adopt ten dogs it should cover the cost yet it seems a daunting task.
Ramona shelter has been wonderful to our program, thanks to the management supporting two women volunteers who have shown up week after week, and many times as many as 20 dogs and most are adopted by incredible people. A malamute ended up in Kentucky on a 20-acre ranch; a Chihuahua ended up with a big guy who was in tears because he missed having a dog. His dog of over 18 years had passed away. A pit bull, near death because it could not handle the emotional stress of being in a shelter, was just skin and bones. It got adopted by two of the most wonderful loving folks and taken away in a custom truck that was painted with an American flag. These are just a few of the many, many, heart-warming stories we experience every show, which is every Sunday and Tuesday.
But one shelter and two volunteers cannot do it all. One Sunday's the Nashville Songwriters' Association of Orange County gathered its wonderful songwriters to come perform, for free, from noon to 8:00 p.m. for the drivers while dogs are being adopted, and we had no dogs. A shelter that had committed to our program phoned three days before show time to say they cannot do this show, as they have to focus on their other needs. Overwhelmingly sad news, not for us, for the dogs, that will now be euthanized.
As I have watched the animals come from Ramona I see the emotions in the eyes of each animal. Many of these dogs cannot survive in this locked up state and Ramona takes such excellent care of every animal that comes to them. These dogs are played with, groomed, provided blankets to lay their head on, and our genuinely loved, but each animal is still in a cage, spending many hours alone, and knows something very bad has happened to it. My dog, Jackson, remembers a special bush he likes; he knows where every toy he owns lies; and he waits anxiously for his special treats of the day. He loves marrowbones and just rolls over when he gets those kind. He likes the other treats, but not like those ones. The pit that came out to the show, the one with hardly any life left in him, cried with a screeching sound when after a person had petted him, they left. It was spine chilling to see this dog's cry of need. He just wanted love. A dog is no different than a child,
We, as a nation, need to respect our animals. You cannot get a dog, tie it to a metal chain, and leave it day after day in a back yard with no one talking to it, petting it, or holding the dog. The shelters would not be on over load if people truly took care of their animals. A dog being given up is like a child being handed over to the authorities and from my perspective it is no different. Dogs who have ended up in shelters make the best pets, as they appreciate their new life. Truckers, who I see as very caring people, won't let anything happen to a dog.
We have a world full of wonderful caring people who treat their animals as they should and they make the world worthwhile, but we also are in such deep trouble with the reality of the situation of the shelters and rescues in that dogs by the thousands are being killed, with no one willing to go outside the box.
I offer my program as a means to find dogs' new safe and loving homes to wonderful people. We take photos, we do these truckin' dog blogs thanks to The Press-Enterprise/InlandSoCal Pet Channel and stay in touch with every person who adopts a dog from us at one of the shows. Drivers cannot take their big rig to go visit a shelter, so we bring the animals to them. This coming spring we will be touring the nation to set this program up at various truck stops and, interestingly, other states welcome the idea. We are developing a reality TV show based on the concerts and the adoptions in the work. I can only hope that our shelters in southern California will realize the opportunity created here. There are thousands of truckers who are now in support of our program and they want dogs. Please visit our website for more information: http://www.susannespirit.com or telephone 951-279-1134.