Little Blessings Pet Rescue

Rescue and Adoption of Abandoned Pets


Welcome to a Southern CA shelter where dogs are waiting their turn to be killed.  These dogs know what they are facing. They can smell death in the air.  They are killed because some human did not care, nor saw their value.  They were shown no love, no concern.  They lived their last days abandoned in a dirty, over crowded, loud, scarey cage.  They were killed not for anything bad they had done.  They were killed to make room, because they needed antibiotics, because they were terrified.  How can this be happening in the USA?  Why are we allowing this to happen? Something must be done!  These are not shelters, they are death camps and the world needs to come to their rescue!


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My Visit to the California Kill Shelters

Posted on January 29, 2015 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (2)

I am one day back from visiting the San Bernardino Shelter and the Downey Shelter. I have mostly done this work from a far meeting the pups as they arrive in Seattle. The impact of being at the shelters walking through the vast old and worn down cages is still sinking in. I think I am in shock. I had heard the horror stories, but what I witnessed first hand was at times hopeful and at others appalling. Yet, what I saw was mostly tragic and apathy. I can only describe this as something that one would see in a third world country and not in the USA.


First, I will talk of my experience at the San Bernardino Shelter since it includes some good news. In the past, it has received a lot of bad press. The buildings and cages are old and run down and look like a prison for animals. On the plus side, there is organization housing the small dogs away from the large. The cages were relatively clean. I did not see dogs laying in their waste. The dogs had water. I was there on a low "inventory" day, so I did not see over crowding. I also found the staff to be warm and caring. They work with rescue groups to help get the dogs out alive. Moreover, they are now allowing grooming volunteers to come in and wash and groom their dogs. A groomed dog, has a greater chance of getting adopted. The issue is they have a vet that only visits one day a week. If an animal is sick, he will need to wait until the vet arrives. That can mean a week delay in treatment. Shelter staff is not allowed to administer medication. On the postive side, the San Bernardino Shelter will allow for a $75 neuter/spay deposit. This way the dogs can be clean before surgery. Adopters just need to send them a neuter certificate within 30 days. Your money is then returned.

Yet, while improvements have been made, San Bernardino is still a kill shelter that houses over 500 animals. Animals die because of lack of space here, or from lack of funds to treat diseases. I saw a good number of rescue groups checking on the dogs. It felt sad, but hopeful. Then of course, there are the vast amount of pitbulls and chihuahuas that are last to be saved and often the dogs who are killed in the greatest numbers.

This is a poor area and the pet owners are often unable to afford vet care. They do not neuter/spay their animals, vaccinate or utilize microchips very often. Their animals are susceptible to disease since they are not vaccinated before arriving to the shelter. The key to helping this area is low cost spay and neuter clinics and affordable vet care. Education on how to be a good pet owner is needed. Breeding should be against the law and those doing it fined. Why is California allowing breeding with such a mess on their hands? That is the million dollar question.

The following day I drove to the Downey Shelter. It is also located in an impoverished area. Arriving I noticed a long concreate wall with barbed wire barrier on top. I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. I walked stall after stall of open kennels. The cages are open air. The dogs are exposed to the elements and some are exposed to the wind and cold of night with only a flap of material hanging to block the wind and sun. There is a small door barrier that can divide the stall. This means if the entire cage of dogs is put inside, they barely have room to move and will be stepping into each other's waste.

Large dogs were housed next to small ones. Birds flew through the inclosure into the dog's pens eating their food. This would stir up the dogs and more barking would ensue. The small dogs were terrified since you would see a 5 lbs dog right next to a pitbull.

The stinch of animal waste was over whelming. Every cage housed more than one dog often four small dogs at a time. Their cages were filled with waste and dogs were laying in it. I saw a German Shepard too sick to move. There was diarrhea all over his cage. He looked starved. I was afraid to even mention it since, attention brought to their suffering can mean a death sentence, so you may be damned if you do or if you don't when reporting illness. A solution for a sick dog can be euthanasia.

Another cage housed 6 puppies. They were laying in their own waste. It was all over their cage too. Their food bowl filled with stale looking food sat in the middle of it. I saw dogs with their eyes swollen shut. A bull dog had a toe nail missing and it was red and bloody. He had bite marks on the back of his legs. Another sweet and friendly pitbull had what looked like mange.  German Shepard was laying sick on the ground.  His cage was filled with diahrea.  Another shih tzu dog was wet and it was approaching nightime. He would soon be exposed to night time temperatures. They were sick, matted, scratching, shivering in fear in almost every cage.

Kennel cards were missing, so there was no information provided for some dogs. I told a shelter worker and he said to tell someone else since “that was not his building”. An adopter will not know when a dog is available because of a missing kennel card. There were plenty of poodles, shih tzus, maltese all highly adoptable dogs waiting. One little maltese sat by the side of the wall shaking in fear. She is very skinny and frail absolutely traumatized by her experience at the shelter. This is the story for so many of the small dogs. As I walk past their cages, they come to me with pleading eyes. All I can do is send them love and walk past. to see the next. I spent many hours at this shelter.

I found it interesting that it was well staffed. The ASPCA had a presence there. I didn't ask what they were doing. There were plenty of shelter workers. A few walked through the stalls asking if I needed help. They walked past the cages filled with waste. During my two day visit, I saw one person cleaning cages. Most of the workers congregated at a picnic table centered in the middle of the shelter. The office workers were polite, but did not get my information correctly into the system the first day. I was known as the lady called “Nancy”. The second day, I finalized the rescue of two dogs that had no other interest.

The second day, one of the staff said: "I remember you". You are "the lady that made me work hard". All I had asked her to do was to look up a few ID numbers to see if there was rescue interest in the dogs. I realize that these are low paying jobs. Yet, should that be an excuse? As in all work, it is not what you are paid that should determine the quality of your work. Moreover, do any of them even like animals? Should that not be a qualification for working in a shelter? A shelter can also utalize volunteers, as we do in Seattle. They walk animals, so they don't go stir crazy in their cells and greatly reduce their stress levels.

Who is running the Downey shelter and office?  They are not doing a good job!  For example, the Downey office needed my drivers license to fill out the paperwork. They handed me the papers and when I got back (after an hour of driving in freeway traffic) to my hotel. I realized they had not returned my drivers license. I was flying out the next morning and would not be allowed to board without it! I tried calling the shelter, but could not get through. I jumped back into my car and called a friend who found a back office number. She called and sure enough, they had my ID. I spent another hour and a half in rush hour bumper to bumper traffic one way to retrieve my license. Needless to say, I was not happy. When I arrived. I asked why they did not call me? Even though they had taken all of my info for the adoption, the office manager stated they "did not have my number". I said, well should I give it to you? She went to the computer and another worker told her “it was all in the system”. It is a sad commentary that this shelter seems to have no heart and their workers appear to care less. Besides being disorganized, how can you walk past the suffering of these animals day after day and be immune to their suffering and care? It is just astounding to me.

The one redeeming factor for this shelter is they have a very fair $125 adoption fee. It includes the adoption fee, spay/neuter, heart worm test, all vacinations including rabies, flea treatment and microchip. Anyone in rescue knows, the cost is always in the vet care. Yet, what will the vet bills be from their lack of santitation and allowing of the spread of disease? Moreover, they do not wash their dogs before surgery. They disinfect the area. This means you will adopt a filthy dog that has lived in their own waste that will go immediately to surgery. You will not be able to really wash your dog for a week.

The world needs to come to the rescue of the Downey Shelter animals in California. This is truly a pit from hell shelter that has no business calling itself a shelter. It is a filthy death camp for dogs. The world needs to know this! The next time I hear "why do you rescue California dogs," I will show them the many pictures and videos showing exactly what I have described here. Its not for the faint of heart! Yet, this is real and it is happening in the USA! How can we as an animal loving nation turn away from what is happening in California shelters? I can only pray that God will know their suffering. That a greater power with intervene here and animal lovers around the world will demand that the Downey and all shelter animals receive humane treatment.

Why We Choose to Rescue From San Bernardino and Other LA Shelters

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This is a copied Article:

Fired worker crusades for reform at San Bernardino city animal shelter SAN BERNARDINO: Even the city facility’s director agrees and says “we just don’t do a very good job.” By JANET ZIMMERMAN The Press-Enterprise Dog lover Lori Routh was troubled by the sick pups and poor conditions she witnessed at the San Bernardino city animal shelter where she worked. As a volunteer, then employee, she often used her own money for dog food when supplies ran low. Routh endured the stench of feces trapped in decaying drains and fretted over the lack of medical care for dogs. Still, for almost two years, she told herself she was making a difference. But her tolerance ended on a rainy night last winter, when water seeped through the roof at the aging city shelter. Blankets she put down in the kennels were quickly sodden. Wet dogs shivered from the cold. On that chilly night, Routh snapped pictures of rusted swamp coolers, a collapsed ceiling over cages in the receiving room and broken pulleys on kennel doors jury-rigged with wire and leashes. She posted her complaints and photos on an Internet chat room in late November. The move triggered a public outcry for improvements to the 50-year-old shelter. It also got her banned from the premises. “Some people told me posting images and talking about the way things are run there turned the public against animal control. I’d like to think it’s speeding things up, improving things,” said Routh, 32. Since her departure, Routh’s complaint to California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration prompted repairs to the collapsed ceiling and part of the roof. She and members of her Coalition for Shelter Pets have met with several San Bernardino City Council members to lobby for change. The council members have encouraged her, she said, but have taken no action. The most serious problems — staff shortages, overcrowding, rampant disease and a crumbling facility — remain. They are issues that cannot be resolved without a massive infusion of money, city officials and critics agree.

'One Dog at a Time' With her strawberry blonde bob and freckles, Routh comes off as friendly and unassuming. She is passionate and persuasive, not pushy. From her Crestline home, she networks with others on the Internet to save pets from being euthanized. “She’s trying to save the world, one dog at a time, that one,” said Kelly Anderson, of Huntington Beach, who adopted a pit-bull mix rescued from the San Bernardino shelter and is part of Routh’s 15-member coalition. Routh volunteered at the San Bernardino city shelter after she left a career in firefighting in 2005. She then took a $13-an-hour shelter attendant job cleaning kennels, conducting adoption interviews and euthanizing animals. After eight months, she moved to the Rancho Cucamonga shelter because it paid $17 an hour and she didn’t have to euthanize any animals. But she continued to volunteer at San Bernardino. “It was like my second home. It was where I felt comfortable,” said Routh, now in school to become a radiology technician. “It was like an inner peace I’d never felt before.” Ken Childress, director of San Bernardino’s Animal Control Department, called Routh well- meaning and a great employee. But she is obsessive-compulsive about animals and dissatisfied with the slow pace of improvements, he said. “I think she’s extremely frustrated that the city hasn’t stepped to the plate and resolved the issues that are here. These are issues that every shelter in the United States faces. Some places are doing a better job at it than others,” Childress said. And where does San Bernardino rank among them? “At the bottom of the pile,” he said. While volunteering, Routh took some risks, including solitary nighttime visits and letting the quarantined pit bulls off-leash, Childress said. The final straw was when public discussions prompted by her Internet posting turned “hostile and nasty” and further damaged morale at the shelter, he said. Even though Routh tried to keep the discussion focused on the facility, blame ultimately fell on the employees, he said. “That’s who ends up paying the price for it,” said Childress, explaining why Routh was let go in December. “We weren’t trying to be vindictive or cover anything up, but you gotta work with what you have and try to stay together.”

'The Best We Can Do’ Childress is candid about problems at the shelter. “Given the current level of animals we handle and the current budget, we just don’t do a very good job,” he said. Childress said he alerted his boss, City Manager Fred Wilson, and the mayor to the issues. But Wilson said he was unaware of the complaints and called the facilities adequate. “The city is not in a position at all to put money into it,” he said. “It’s the best we can do.” When Childress came to San Bernardino from the Memphis shelter in 2003, he was surprised to find that of the 25 employees in animal control, only five were shelter attendants. A facility that handles 250 animals on a given day should have at least 12 attendants, he said. The workers hurry to hose out kennels before the 10 a.m. opening of the shelter and don’t have time to go back during the day to tend the animals, he said. The facility shelters three times the number of animals it was built for, he said. Routh and others complain that the crowding forces incompatible dogs together in kennels and leads to fights. Crowding also contributes to widespread outbreaks of fatal diseases such as parvovirus and distemper, largely because there is no place to quarantine sick animals and new arrivals, they said. Only puppies are vaccinated, but they are quickly exposed to illness because they can’t be isolated while the shots take affect. Some rescue groups are leery of pulling dogs from the shelter. Cheryl Weatherford of Passion for Paws, a La Jolla-based Akita rescue, said she lost a San Bernardino shelter dog last year because he wasn’t vaccinated. She had offered to take the dog shortly after he arrived but shelter staff thought he would be adopted quickly. About a week later, the shelter called her to take the animal because he had diarrhea, and she started him on medication and force feedings, Weatherford said. The dog died three days later. A necropsy showed he died of parvovirus, which, based on the incubation period, he clearly contracted at the shelter, Weatherford said. “All they had to do was give him a $6 shot and save his life,” Weatherford said. “He died a needless and painful death.” The shelter has a registered veterinary technician on site but not enough staff or money to provide ongoing medical treatment, Childress said. About 10 percent of the animals suffer from

such illnesses as kennel cough, distemper and parvovirus, and some rescue organizations pull animals that are already sick, he said. Childress said improvements on his watch included remodeling of the cat house, where felines once crawled amid the insulation in the walls and ceiling; passage of the city’s mandatory spay and neuter law for dogs; renovation of the shelter’s lobby; and the addition of a used trailer where volunteers can gather. High Euthanasia Rate San Bernardino provides animal control and shelter services for the cities of Fontana and Loma Linda, and houses animals for Colton and Grand Terrace. The situation would be worse without the approximately $1 million in revenue those contracts bring in, Childress said. The shelter’s budget for the current fiscal year is $500,000, plus $1.4 million in revenue from the contracts, licensing, fines and adoptions, most of which goes toward personnel and animal control. Because of space and staff shortages, the San Bernardino shelter has among the highest euthanasia rates in the region — 69 percent of the 15,532 dogs and cats received in 2007, Childress and Routh said. By comparison, the San Bernardino County shelter in Devore euthanized 61 percent of the 12,047 dogs and cats it took in last year; Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Services Department, which strives to be a no-kill shelter, has a euthanasia rate of 21 percent. “We don’t have funds to continue treatment,” Childress said. “It’s often euthanasia.” The city has long neglected the shelter, even during more prosperous economic times, said San Bernardino Humane Society President Sue Dawson, who serves on the city’s Animal Control Commission. Her group began calling attention to the problem in the 1970s and ’80s and now concentrates efforts to keep animals out of the shelter. “I wished (Routh) the best of luck, because we didn’t succeed, but I’m hoping she does,” Dawson said. “The sad part is, the city has ignored this for so long ... I have no reason to think they’re going to be doing anything." Reach Janet Zimmerman at 951-368-9586 or