Abandoned dogs fill TA dog shelter to capacity

Living in individual caged cells, the dogs tend to either be relatively old or have some sort of physical disadvantage.

Dogs 370 (photo credit: Courtesy of Kineret Rozen-Edelman)
Dogs 370
(photo credit: Courtesy of Kineret Rozen-Edelman)
Across the street from the Reading power plant in northwest Tel Aviv, the sound of numerous dogs barking resonates through a rusty green metal wall that lines the sidewalk.
The dogs – about 50 of them – are occupants of the Tel Aviv Municipal Dog Shelter and hail from the city’s streets, their home after their owners abandoned them in most cases. Living in individual caged cells with both indoor and outdoor chambers, the dogs are mostly large in size and tend to either be relatively old or have some sort of physical disadvantage. Puppies and young, healthy dogs who end up at the shelter tend to find owners fast, as did a medium-sized brown dog named Nemo on Thursday.
“There is no room for more dogs,” Dana Spector, the head of volunteers and herself a long-time volunteer at the shelter, told The Jerusalem Post during a visit on Thursday.
“The situation is so bad in Israel – nobody has room.”
Pavlo, a very large six-year-old with a lush, golden brown mane, has already been at the shelter for two years – the longest of any dog currently living on the premises, according to Spector. While two families have already tried to adopt Pavlo, both have returned him because of his territorial behaviors and tendency to jump on and bear his teeth at strangers, she explained.
“We have to give him to a family with experience – that knows dogs. If someone comes over they can put him outside or they can separate an area of their garden,” Spector said.
“He just doesn’t like strangers. He will be a good guard.”
Although much younger and smaller, Yaffit, a brown two-year-old, has epilepsy and no one thus far has wanted to take her and handle the medication required to treat her condition. Just one pill per day would keep her almost entirely seizure free, but because the shelter cannot currently afford Yaffit’s medication she seizes approximately once a month, Spector explained.
“It’s really scary because you can’t do anything,” she said.
“You have to just wait until it passes like with people.”
Tzahi, a large and old black dog at eight years old, has not only his age and size against him but also his color to his disadvantage, according to Spector. For some reason that Spector said she cannot understand, people do not tend to adopt black dogs and instead opt for the brown or white ones.
“He is a very, very good and quiet and calm dog,” she said.
“People have to see him and his personality.”
Yet another of the 50 dogs on site, Shoresh, is only around three years old, but he faces difficulties finding a home because both of his ears were cut off. Cutting the ears of dogs, Spector explained, is part of Beduin culture due to the belief that snipped ears makes a dog hear better and guard the family more effectively.
“It’s so difficult to get them adopted,” Spector said.
While in general the shelter staff members struggle to get the dogs at their site adopted, they did experience a great success story two months ago, when an inspector found a dog with her 17 newborns in the streets of Jaffa, according to Spector. Five quickly died, but the rest were able to find homes, aside from the mother, who is in foster care.
When puppies arrive at the shelter, the workers there try to find them a foster house immediately because it is dangerous for unvaccinated animals to stay in this communal environment. The same rule applies to cats, who also sometimes make their way to the site, even though it is meant for dogs. Although the municipal veterinarian will care for street cats, there actually is no city shelter for them because most times they are better off returning to their familiar street location after treatment, Spector explained. A problem arises, however, when dealing with baby cats, because once a human touches the animals their mothers will never return to them, she said.
“The mother will not touch him again and then he will die,” she added.
At the shelter, where Spector has been volunteering for three years, there is one staff veterinarian, a few paid maintenance workers and a crew of about 25 volunteers – about a third of whom are of Anglo-Saxon origin, Spector said. Each volunteer comes at least once a week for about four or five hours and mostly take the dogs for walks outside the shelter.
“We believe that it’s very important to go out with the dogs almost every day so they will be used to people and it will be easier to get them into houses,” she said.