Scarlett, a bulldog mix, spent three years at the Cedar Rapids shelter
Dogs Forever explains why some dogs are difficult to adopt
Volunteer trainer Mike Albee works June 30 with Scarlett, an 8-year-old American Bulldog mix, at the Dogs Forever Shelter in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids – Scarlett, an 8-year-old American Bulldog mix who sports an inviting smile and amber eyes, recently celebrated three years of living at Dogs Forever Shelter in Cedar Rapids.
Scarlett and other dogs not adopted for years are being overlooked because of their age and breed, said Crystal Ellis, head of the Dogs Forever fundraising committee and Facebook guru. The non-profit, volunteer-run shelter says the dogs it takes in are in its care until they have permanent homes.
Ellis said Scarlett had spent half her life at the shelter, which is emblematic of the roughly 3.1 million dogs that enter shelters across the United States each year. According to a 2016 study, some breeds, like pit bulls or pit bull look-alikes, stay in shelters longer than others.
“The two times she was dropped off, returned or given away by her owner, it wasn’t her fault,” she said. “The first time the family had a baby and the second time they divorced.”
Q: Why are senior dogs neglected?
A: People know what to expect with a puppy. They know they’re going to be potty training, they’re going to be talkative, and they have to learn obedience and things like that. I think sometimes, talking to other volunteers at the shelter, people don’t want to do the work that it’s going to take. With these harder dogs to place, you have to get to work. I think, from another comment some of our volunteers made, that there’s a misconception that, you know, rescue and pound dogs are rejects or behavioral issues are bad. And in reality, they are not.
Q: Why are people losing interest in adopting specific dog breeds like pit bulls and bulldogs?
A: I think it’s kind of this stigma that a race is bad. Or this breed could be vicious and it’s just, unfortunately, information that was probably given to them by misinformation they read online or something. All dogs are good dogs and they don’t usually turn bad unless they’ve had bad experiences in their life with a human. We also had a few pit bulls in the system that took forever to be adopted.
Q: What does the shelter do to prevent dogs from being forgotten?
A: …We try to post funny videos and get people to know them and we encourage people to come to our shelter during opening hours. We try to be active on our social media so people can see our dogs playing when they post videos, to show them that good dogs, you know, they just got roughed up.
Q: What are the long-term issues for dogs that have been in shelters for years?
A: Many of them are not dog friendly or become rather reserved or they can have trouble with strangers. When they are not constantly in a home environment where they have a cohesive individual or family in their life, they don’t know how to live in a house. Our dogs get tons of love – even one of our volunteers brings Scarlett home from time to time, but she has a cat that she has to lock up in the basement. It’s a completely different dog in her home, like she lays in the sun and watches people go by. But at the shelter, she barks and is excited.
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Scarlett, an 8-year-old American Bulldog mix, sits for a portrait June 30 at Dogs Forever Shelter in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)
Volunteer trainer Mike Albee stands for a portrait June 30 with Scarlett, an 8-year-old American Bulldog mix, at the Dogs Forever Shelter in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)