Tony was caught on camera with his tail mid-wag. He’s looking sweetly at the photographer with a gleam in his eyes, his body raised up as if hoping that the person taking the picture will stop and give Tony some affection. He wants it, desperately. And now Tony is one of many dogs who will be killed on Tuesday, November 21, unless he is pulled by rescue or adopted.
Tony isn’t petite or graced with curly locks. His nose doesn’t wrinkle up like a Boston Terrier’s. He doesn’t have a long plume of a tail like a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. In fact, Tony looks like many of the other dogs at this shelter. He’s a mix — that healthy blend of many breeds that gives the lucky ones longevity and few diseases and the unlucky ones death at the local county shelter.
While city and suburban shelters receive a mix of purebred dogs and mixes, rural county shelters like the Highlands County Animal Services get mostly mixed breeds, many of which look like pit bull mixes and hunting dogs. The shelter’s director tries to learn about the dogs and their personalities, but as with most shelters, and especially small ones with few resources, dogs’ behaviors in shelters are often quite different from their behaviors in a home. That’s why responsible shelters advise adopters to take all animal introductions slowly and give new animals time to decompress and relax. (Read a great article about this here.)