By Erin Fenstermaker
Jake is a 9-year-old German Shepherd that has lived in a Dallas animal shelter for seven years. That is not a typo. He has lived in a shelter for SEVEN years. Jake is not your typical “stray-dog-finds-a-forever-family-and-lives-happily-ever-after” kind of story. Unfortunately not all animal stories end that way. But Jake’s story is worth telling nonetheless.
For me, Jake’s story began in 2002. That was when he was seen running loose in Waco, TX, and apparently was exhibiting “known signs of extensive abuse.” He had reportedly bitten several people while running amok, so local Waco animal control personnel had been given permission to shoot him upon sight if necessary. Fortunately for Jake, he was lured into someone’s yard and captured before that happened. Once captured, a Dallas Humane Society branch called “Dog & Kitty City” agreed to have Jake transferred to their facility, 90 miles north.
In the seven plus years since his move to Dallas, Dog & Kitty City has done their best to care for Jake. Despite his inclination to bite almost all new people, Jake has actually been adopted twice. In the first instance, a young couple took him in, but Jake bonded closely with the man and less so with the woman. After a short time, Jake apparently began to view the woman as a threat to his own relationship with the man in the house, so Jake started biting the woman. After a number of such attacks, the woman was too afraid of Jake for Jake to keep living with them. So he was returned to the shelter. The second time Jake was adopted by an older man that lived by himself. Several months after this man took in Jake, the man was involved in a serious car accident. Left with extensive injuries and months of strenuous rehabilitation, the man realized he would not be able to care for Jake. So Jake came back to the shelter again.
There are dogs with stories like Jake’s all over this country. Truth be told, most shelters are forced to put dogs like him down, because they don’t have enough room or the money to keep them alive if no one is going to adopt them. I could go on and on about what a travesty killing healthy dogs is just because there aren’t enough homes for them all—but I am not going to do that. Not today at least. But I wanted to shed a little light on Jake’s story because I believe the fact that there are dogs like Jake at all should teach us something about being better pet owners and better people.
Have you met your own “Jake” already? I’d love to hear about others’ rescue challenges.