Lost and Found

On Sunday morning, my Yellow-naped Amazon parrot started her warning grunt, which means she sees something in the yard: a deer munching my hydrangeas, or the neighbors riding by on their horses. Ocassionally, it's been an escaped cow or two on the road, once a bear, once a mountain lion. Her alarm always alarms the cats. They jump up on the back of the couch or a table for a better view. This time, two of them shot out the cat-door, taking them straight into whatever danger lurked. The third cat crawled under my desk and up into a drawer. The fourth is 19. She slept on. Such a panicky reaction usually means a stray dog, which could really be trouble to the fools who fled outside.

However . . .

Found dog look-alike
I don't have a dog, but before the day ended, I was truly tempted. The chihuahua was wet, cold, and terrified, but hungry enough that I quite easily lured him into the house with cat food. I gave him a little dish of food and called the Humane Society. We have a 'no-kill' shelter here on the Coast, but they weren't open, and the message said I would have to call the Sheriff. Our local Animal Control facility closed down a couple of years ago in response to budget cuts. Now all animals picked up as strays are taken to the Sheriff's department to be transported to the county animal control facility in Ukiah. This was not a well-cared for dog. He was not neutered, wouldn't let me touch him, had ticks and fleas, and a ruptured boil on his side. I called my friends at Second Chance Rescue instead.

Second Chance Rescue began in 2003. At that time there were very few small dogs available for adoption on the Mendocino Coast, but more and more older people were moving here to retire; people who would love the company of a small dog. In the San Francisco Bay Area there were many small dogs looking for good homes but stuck in overcrowded animal shelters. Jeanne Gocker and Steve Sapontzis started bringing the supply to meet the demand. They brought older, small dogs and found homes for them on the coast with folks who wanted a mature little dog. In four years they found homes for over 100 dogs.

I asked Steve to give me more background for this post.

"In the 1990s, even before we were doing the rescue work, we started bringing up hundreds and thousands of pounds of dry dog food to the Ft. Bragg Food Bank to distribute to its dog-owning clients. We are continuing this program, especially in these tough economic times, when many folks can barely afford to feed themselves, much less their pets. The Food Bank does a great job of distributing the 250 pounds of food we bring every week. In 2010, we started also supplying food to Ft. Bragg’s Lighthouse Church and Willits’ St. Anthony’s Church to give to dog owners at their free kitchens.

In 2007, working with the Mendocino County spay/neuter clinics, we started providing free canine spay/neuter for coast dog owners trying to make it on a limited income. In 2009, we added the Mendocino Animal Hospital in Ukiah to this program. Preventing the birth of puppies for whom there are no homes is crucial to reducing animal suffering.

In 2008 we began helping low-income coast pet owners with vet bills for their pets. We can’t always afford to pay the whole bill, but we can provide enough (maximum of $100) for folks to get their sick or injured pets seen by a veterinarian and to get treatment started.

In November 2008, we started providing free Frontline flea/tick treatments for the dogs of clients of the Food Bank. We continue to do this, and are up to 140 dogs monthly. We now provide free collars, leashes, and sweaters, treats and toys for those dogs. October 2010 was our first annual free shots and microchips clinic at the Food Bank."

You can guess why I called Steve and Jeanne. I caught them as they were headed out the door to go to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving. Jeanne called me back ten minutes later, and had found someone willing to foster my little stray for a couple of weeks. All I had to do was catch him.

Nothing to do with this story, just too cute not to include.

I didn't want to keep feeding him for fear he'd fill up and I'd never catch him, but I needed to get him into a confined space, small enough to get a leash on him. I got a package of 'pill-pockets' (which never tricked a single one of my cats) and went to sit on the floor of my tiny bathroom. He was way to smart for that and won't cross the doorframe. After an hour or so, I gave up and went back to work on the computer. Desperate for kindness and companionship, he came and sat by my chair, and eventually lay down with his chin on his paws, his eyes rolled up to watch to me. But even moving my hand from the keyboard to the mouse was enough to cause him to leap up and run into the other room.

I finally called the woman whose number Jeanne had given me, to let her I would be there. Someday. I didn't tell her the trouble I was having, for fear she'd bail on the deal.

He had a habit of running in front of me, and glancing nervously over his shoulder. It eventually occured to me that I could corral him a room at a time. When he ran into my office, I closed the door behind us. He darted into the bathroom, where I manage to get the door closed before he could get back out again. I slipped the leash on him, and began to pet him, expecting him to growl or snap at me. Instead, he trembled and cowered, as if expecting to be beaten. It was really heartbreaking.

His foster mom and dad have two other Second Chance rescue dogs, a cat and a parakeet. We named him Sam, and from the report I got yesterday, he's doing fine.


Second Chance is a project of Hayward Friends of Animals Humane Society.  HFoA was founded by Jeanne Gocker and Steve Sapontzis (author of Morals, Reason, and Animals) in 1985 and has worked throughout northern California to help animals. They are a tax-exempt, not-for-profit, public-benefit, 501(c)3 charity. We are an entirely volunteer organization, even our office space and most of our administrative expenses are donated, so that all the funds we receive can be devoted to helping animals. All donations to Second Chance qualify as itemized deductions on both your federal and state individual income taxes. And all funds donated to Second Chance are spent to help animals on the Mendocino Coast. We welcome your help and support."

Steve Sapontzis is emeritus professor of philosophy at CalState, East Bay. He is the author of Morals, Reason, and Animals, and numberous scholarly articles and the editor of Food for Thought: The Debate over eating Meat. Steve's most recent book is Subjective Morals. They are doing a little fundraising for Second Chance Rescue with the book, so instead of ordering from the publisher, folks can get an autographed copy by sending a donation of $30 (or more, of course) to Second Chance, P. O. Box 2622, Ft. Bragg, CA  95437.