The other night a girl said to me, "You're a dog person - you'll be able to help me. I need to get rid of my dog, do you know anyone who wants a dog?"
She got the first part right. Yes, I am a dog person. I love my dogs. I love your dogs. I foster dogs for the Arizona Humane Society. I take my dogs to obedience and agility. I take them to daycare. I read dog blogs. I obsess about dogs. Yes, I am a dog person.
And because I am a dog person, I have been asked the above question approximately 30 times in the past year. And the askers are truly surprised when I say no. I would like to tell them how many times in the past year I have been asked, "You're a dog person, can you help me find a new dog?": 1 time. Though the actual question was "Would your current foster dog make a good boat dog for me?"
Do people think that I keep a waiting list of people who can't find a dog, no matter how hard they look? There is no such list and the reason is because the number of unwanted dogs FAR EXCEEDS the number of available homes. A quick count right now shows 60 dogs available at the Arizona Humane Society, 36 dogs at Arizona Animal Welfare League, 299 dogs available at Maricopa County Animal Control, 34 dogs already posted this morning before 10 am on Craigslist and 78 dogs posted yesterday. That is 507 unwanted dogs available RIGHT NOW, just in the Phoenix area. I did not count the numbers of dogs in various breed rescues, smaller shelters and organizations like HALO and RESCUE, though there are many. Add to that the number of dogs available from reputable breeders, backyard breeders, pet stores (god help us) and yahoos set up in front of the mall with litters of 5-week old pit bulls. So, I can truthfully say that if someone is looking for a dog, there is an over-abundance of dogs out there to choose from.
I understand that because I am a dog person, people think I know other dog people and therefore I should know someone who wants a dog. But let me tell you something about the other dog people I know. Just like me, they have reached their capacity on the number of dogs they have time and space for. Dog people do everything they can for and with the dogs to whom they have committed themselves. We do not have the time or space to take in every dog whose original owners give up on them. Of the 15 or so other dog people I know, that would be 33 dogs we'd each have to add to our homes just to take care of today's unwanted dogs.
I understand that because I am a dog person, it is reasonable to come to me for information about dogs. Unfortunately these "do you know anyone?" people aren't coming to me for information, they just want to get rid of their dog. If they truly wanted information:
* I would gladly tell them about crate training (no, you don't need to get rid of your dog because he chews the furniture when you are gone)
* I will be thrilled to refer them a wonderful obedience program (no, you don't need to get rid of your dog because he jumps/barks/runs away),
* I would even make sure that obedience program is reasonably priced (no, you don't have to get rid of your dog because you can't afford a $1000 training program),
* I would more than willingly give them a bunch of information on how to get their dog started in agility (no, you don't have to get rid of your dog because he has too much energy).
* I would also love to give them information on doggie daycares and dog walkers (no, you don't have to get rid of your dog because you're gone all day).
* And I would even give them information on the steps required to turn your dog over to the Arizona Humane Society, though I'll be screaming inside my head, "A dog is a lifetime commitment! You made a commitment to that dog!"
And to sum it all up - If I did know someone who wanted a dog (which I repeat, I DO NOT), I would have them adopt my lovely foster, Scarlet. Instead, like all my fosters, I'll turn her back into the shelter and cross my fingers and my toes that the perfect family comes for her.