Dexter, a dog from Santa Barbara County Animal Services (SBCAS), was sent to a higher kill shelter in Orange County on March 18th, 2016 to participate in a free adoption event.
This particular event only required a valid driver’s license and small microchipping fee for adoption, without any background check, therefore offering no protection from those seeking bait dogs for dog fights or dogs to sell in medical research. Nevertheless, SBCAS chose to send Dexter and several other dogs to this event with no guarantees of their safety. Although he was originally adopted, Dexter was returned to OC Animal Care shelter in less than a week when his new owners' housing did not allow for him.
While at OC Animal Care, Dexter spent a majority of his time in a kennel with zero enrichment activities. Understandably, his behavior and mood began to deteriorate. Just a few weeks after naming him as their “April Dog of the Month,” and in their own words, “a perfect addition to any family,” OC Animal Care relabeled Dexter as aggressive and reactive, showing signs of kennel stress, lunging at gates, and baring his teeth—behaviors likely induced by the high-stress surroundings and his degenerated emotional and mental state. Regardless, as a result of the shelter's poorly determined assessment—made without the opinion of a qualified behaviorist—Dexter was kept in near isolation, and deemed unadoptable.
Within days of his scheduled euthanasia, several emails and phone calls were made by animal advocacy and rescue groups to SBCAS to inform them that one of their dogs was scheduled to be killed and ask if they could coordinate a transport for Dexter. SBCAS was said to have replied in an email that they would "respect any outcome determined by [OC's] program." In other words, they chose not to reclaim Dexter and instead complied with the determination to have him put down in OC.
Through the tireless efforts of Save More Kill Less, an animal advocacy team, and many volunteers, the rescue community learned of Dexter’s situation and DAWG has stepped forward to bring Dexter home and save his life.
Shirley Jansen, founder of Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG), had this to say: "Dexter’s case raises a much larger question. Why are Santa Barbara County citizens being taxed to provide training and kennel enrichment and program managers and then seeing their dogs shipped to places where they receive none of these benefits? We should work together to have this practice suspended until the outcomes of dogs so exiled can be thoroughly investigated and safeguards put in place to prevent other dogs suffering as Dexter has."
"When it comes to the health and well being of animals, Santa Barbara should be a beacon of innovative care. Unfortunately, this is not the case." -Gretchen Lieff (President, Davey's Voice)
What happened to Dexter was not right. We plan to push for the creation of the Santa Barbara County Commission on Animals (welfare-oriented) with direction from citizens rather from the SB County Public Health Department Animal Services. Please sign and share this petition to support the creation of this commission and to help all homeless SB County pets and to prevent another "Dexter" from happening. Positive change! #BeTheirVoice!
Please see Davey's Voice website for news - www.daveysvoice.org