A beautiful white pit Bull dog with grey spots and a flowers collar

Khloe’s Case - Calling All Dog Lovers & Animal Advocates Viola Sator

How do you tell a story you are hoping to share with other animal lovers out there, knowing, a lot of them will look the other way because said story is about a Pit Bull? How to tell a story, knowing, there won’t be a happy ending?

It was late June when I saw beautiful Khloe online. A caring networker, not associated with the shelter in a professional manner, was sharing her to get her seen and save her life.

Khloe was on the list for euthanasia. A common practice here is in SoCal and all over America really because shelters are being swamped with intakes due to abuse, owner surrenders, and overpopulation, which is caused by breeding and not spaying/neutering the dogs. Fireworks don’t help either. 4th of July has dogs and wildlife alike, freak out and run off because loud noises terrify them.

The truth is, there are oh so many reasons for why animals end up in shelters and frankly, I don’t understand most of them. Puppies, adolescent dogs, and the most heartbreaking of all, seniors. All of them get dumped because people either fail to understand the responsibilities of living with an animal or are sick of them once the dogs get old and fragile.

They don’t set their dogs up for success but on the contrary, will give up, and punish them if the pup isn’t doing something they haven’t been taught properly to begin with. They don’t see their dogs as a member of their family but as objects, they can discard.

Khloe reminded me of my late bluenose Pit Bull Henry, though I can’t tell you why exactly that was. Her coloring and markings were completely different and she had a much more lively disposition. Plus, as I was told by shelter staff a thing for starting a fuss with other animals.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Her eyes sought me out and her big 80-pound body was something I imagined to snuggle up against.

Henry was from the Carson shelter. He was in danger as well and the fact that he was a senior and harshly emaciated wasn’t working in his favor either. A kind person, whom I had known for some time, shared him on social media and I saw him. And seeing him meant loving him.

I started sharing dogs on social media. If it worked out for Henry and myself, it must work for others as well.

A lot of dogs out there need help and all of them deserve another chance, but maybe the fact that Henry was rescued from the same shelter, made Khloe more meaningful to me. Or maybe, it was simply love.

The love I saw in her eyes even though she was barking up a storm every time I approached her kennel. Love I could feel even through the fletching of her perfect, white teeth and her growling when I came too close.

Correct, unfortunately, Khloe wasn’t showing well in her kennel. I’m sure anyone who walked by her prison cell felt her wrath and thought she was aggressive.

But you can’t judge a dog’s behavior by how they act while inside their kennel, or even while inside a shelter for that matter. Shelters are loud and terrifying and one of the most stressful things that can happen to a dog.

Hence, I paid little attention to her fear-based barking and growling. I knew she was a good girl. “Go ahead, Khloe, bark and show me your teeth”, I thought. After all, she had every right to cuss me out. Up until that point, I was just another human who had the potential of disappointing her.

I would walk off and come back. Strolled around a few times and sat back down. Once I felt I repeated this often enough I took a seat, with my back facing the kennel, and just held space for whatever she was feeling and however she wanted to express that.

In my mind, I tried to communicate to her that I knew, what she was portraying herself to be, wasn’t the real her. I tried to communicate that I knew she was really, really scared.

After some time she’d walk up the kennel bars, swaying back and forth as if to gauge her safety. Eventually, she stopped barking and sat down behind me. I threw a treat. She picked it up. I threw another treat and she picked it up again. Another couple of treats on the floor and no more growl.

I then turned around halfway and held the treat between my fingers and offered it to her through the bars. And there it was, the thing that had my late Henry rushing through my entire system. Khloe took the treat as gently as he did. My heart was full.

You see, Khloe was an owner surrender. Can you imagine, how must it feel to lose your family and everything you’ve ever known in a split second? How must it feel to wait for weeks on end behind bars, without getting walked or stimulated? How must it feel to never return home?

The reason for the surrender, you ask? A supposed altercation with another dog. I’m not saying that didn’t happen, I’m also not saying it did. The truth is, it doesn’t matter because would you give up on your son or daughter because they got into a fight with the neighbor’s kid?

Owner surrenders are so much harder to adopt out because any potential adopter will automatically assume there’s something really wrong with the dog. Yes, unfortunately the odds were stacked against Khloe right off the bet.

But I had seen her video and how she behaved outside her kennel. I saw how she interacted with the volunteers and I knew she was a good girl. So why did I not take her home you wonder?

As I type this, I’m without a job or a steady income, work at least 12 hours a day on my computer to stomp a business out of the ground, and have an almost 18-year-old cat at home with kidney disease.

I simply wasn’t in the position to adopt, but fostering could have worked. When you foster, food, vet care and other things needed are paid for. Either by the rescue you end up working with or by the shelter you foster from directly.

Additionally, If I had adopted Khloe against all rational reasoning and she would have ended up being a danger to my cat, then returning her to the shelter would have been equal to me signing her death certificate. It would have made her an “owner” surrender times two, and which potential adopter would want that in a Pit Bull from the shelter.

I had to be smart and diplomatic. If I could foster her and it wouldn’t work out, I at least would have given her a break from the shelter to decompress, gathered more information on her behavior, thrown in some basic training, and taken lots and lots of pictures and videos to further network her and hopefully find her forever home.

I knew there was a good chance of it not working out. Shelter staff had advised against me taking her home because they didn’t think she would be compatible with a cat.

However, I’ve been moving around in the rescue world for some time now and I’ve done this before. I have learned how to keep animals separate and safe at least for a certain amount of time, but of course you can never be certain and it’s not always easy.

I have never brought an animal back to a shelter because it would simply break me but I was willing to take the risk of maybe having to do that in exchange for some extra time. Time that would have only been in Khloe’s best interest.

However, everything turned out utterly different.

I’m going to let the following timeline speak for itself. I was apparently wrong about a lot of things and I regret it more than words can say. I trusted people and their words when I shouldn’t have. I overruled my own intuition.

Let me finally explain why it is that I’m writing this.

As I said I saw Khloe for the first time in late June.

July 2nd, I put in my foster application with the Carson shelter.

July 6th, I visited Khloe at the shelter. At that point, she was not allowed in the play yard due to a skin rash. I waited for hours until a staff member agreed to take her out of the kennel anyway and just walk around the grounds with me. As soon as Khloe was out of her kennel she became a different dog, gentle and timid. We sat down at a bench and Khloe, while super nervous and scared, there was no growling, no barking, no other signs of anything that would have been worrisome.

July 8th I visited Khloe again. This time she was allowed in the play yard. She was happy-go-lucky, romping around doing her business, coming over for affection and pets, and greeting other dogs through the fence without any reactivity.

July 9th the foster coordinator got back to me with another form to fill out. In that form, once again, I stated clearly I was specifically interested in fostering Khloe but also put down two other dogs that were on the kill list and one that wasn’t for good measure.

July 11th I called to check up on her.

July 12th I called and was informed that Khloe was no longer at risk of being euthanized because she was supposed to go on a life-saving transport out of state.

July 12th I emailed the foster coordinator to make sure the information I received over the phone was correct.

July 12th -July 17th I checked the website every day.

July 17th the foster coordinator got back to me assuring me that yes, indeed, Khloe was safe and wasn’t available for foster because she was about to get picked up by an organization called “Dog Is My Co-Pilot”

July 17th I responded that I’m happy to hear this and that I was only trying to make sure Khloe and the other dogs are safe as I still hadn’t heard back from her and never been approved to foster her.

Fast forward to July 20th.

I woke up somber, not unhappy per se but definitely feeling the events of the past year in my life. The grief over losing two of my fur children constantly walking with me. The adjustment to not being employed for the first time ever and knowing the situation would require some attention soon.

As so often I scroll through social media while drinking my morning coffee, debating once more if I should log off entirely because I feel so affected by all the animals out there that are doomed and being abused, neglected, and mistreated. But due to my personal experience, I know a share can change a dog’s fate. So I scroll and share, scroll and share and I come across Khloe’s old post, with an update: “Euthanized”.

I cannot contain my pain. I scream. Loud and ugly. I cannot believe what I’m reading. How can this be, she was claimed safe! I cry and cuss, I throw things. This can’t be real.

I call the main line and I’m informed about the following:

July 11th, Khloe is being considered for a life saving transport with a rescue organization called “Dog Is My Co-Pilot”.

July 13th Khloe is declined for the transport.

July 17th I’m told Khloe is safe and will go on a life saving transport with “Dog Is My Co-Pilot”.

July 18th, Khloe is euthanized.

Flashes of Khloe sitting in the back of my car and smiling that big Pittie smile of hers run through my mind. Flashes of her possible freedom ride that I ignored ever since they came around in late June. My heart is broken.

So, why tell a story that won’t change the outcome? A story that will bring sorrow because it doesn’t focus on the good that many people and rescue organizations do to help animals. Even shelters…

I do it because I am livid and gutted and my soul is yearning for justice. I do it because Khloe’s life mattered and because she was a good dog. I do it because a healthy three-year-old Pit Bull was killed at the Carson Animal Shelter, despite the fact that she had a foster offer to save her life. I… I was trying to save her life.

I’m prepared for the comments people may offer, regarding how I handled this situation. I’m prepared to get accused and shamed for trying to raise awareness and holding the system that is set in our shelters, responsible for her death.

I’m not completely outsourcing the issue. Trust me, I blame myself just as much. I’m prepared to hear ugly things from people who think Bully-type dogs aren’t worth the trouble.

Shelter staff are humans, with their own trials and tribulations and of course, they make mistakes. We all do. But society needs to know what is going on and that, unfortunately, Khloe’s case isn’t a stand-alone affair.

Humans need to do better. Humans need to be willing to grow and learn. We owe that to our animal companions. Many, many years ago we domesticated them, and in return offered them shelter and food.

Whatever happened to those essentials? Besides, this is not a land in a faraway time anymore. This is America, today. Let’s learn about breed discrimination, over breeding, and adopting instead of shopping. Let’s learn that spaying and neutering your animals is the right thing to do for the bigger picture. Let’s evolve.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take action. I can’t bring Khloe back to life nor can I hop on a time machine to make different choices in her favor.

However, rest assured, she will not have died in vain because they truly fucked with the wrong animal lover.

Rest in Peace sweet Khloe. I’m sorry I failed you.

If you can find it in your heart to spread the word, I’d be so grateful as it will help with getting the attention of more media outlets. Khloe’s case should be the last one of its kind. Thank you.

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