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Missy's story – The girl from the 405 Freeway, L.A.

Picture an off-ramp at the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. What do you normally see there? Bushes, trees, maybe trash, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, paper, cans, bottles, maybe old tires, things tossed out of the cars driving by. This is where beautiful Missy was found over 3 years ago.

Missy is a happy, wiggly, kissy dog. She is a beautiful red-head, athletic and affectionate. She is always in a good mood when she is around a human being. Unfortunately, Missy has been living in a kennel facility ever since she was rescued over 3 years ago. She is comfortable there: She gets fed, she goes to play in the yard, she sometimes gets taken out for walks and gets a cookie, every time an employee walks by her. But does she get the attention she craves so desperately? Does she get to snuggle up next to her favorite person or family? Does she get to play ball every day (which she loves!)? Does she get to swim in the pool which is her absolute favorite activity? Does somebody tell her every day, what a wonderful girl she is and how much she is loved? No. Well, that is not completely true. She did have all that for about 2 months. Just recently. Missy got adopted by a nice couple and their teenage daughter. They had a dog before Missy for many years, they live in a nice home with a secure yard and a wonderful pool. They adored Missy, feed her the best food, bought her toys and gave her kisses. So, what happened? Why is she not with her adoptive family anymore?

Let’s reverse: We at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue are very careful when placing our dogs. We look for a stable life-style of our adopters, we make sure, that their home and yard are secure for the dog. We strive to place our dogs with people who are going to be committed to the dog. Who will work through any issues that may arise. We also outweigh the good and the bad, because there is always something in question. In the case of Missy’s adopters, everything matched, except, that maybe, there was a bit of a lack of confidence in handling Missy in certain situations. As mentioned before, Missy is a very happy and wiggly dog and that means, that she can get overstimulated at times. So, the key is, to keep Missy calm and controlled. Not that difficult of a task, as Missy has received our 3 week on-leash obedience training and she LOVES to show off her training. As a matter of fact, her adopters updated us on several occasions about her excellent manners and her obedience. They even had a cocktail party 4 days after Missy moved in, when she impressed everybody with her excellent manners.

We, at Pacific Coast Dog Rescue take the adoption process serious. We always conduct several home visits with the dog, before leaving them at the new home for good. During that time, we practice the training with the adopters. We also check in regularly for the first couple of months and ask the adopters to contact us right away with even the smallest problem or concern. Well, Missy’s adopters informed us, that Missy would get very excited, when she saw people playing basketball. I guess, the moving ball made her anxious. The founder of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue and also our trainer, David Roe, explained Missy’s adopters, how to use the training, to handle her in those situations. Everything seemed to be going well until we got the call: “We are heartbroken, but we have to return Missy. She nipped our neighbor, playing basketball.” How could this have happened? Missy was on a leash. Easy to control. According to the adopters, Missy was on a leash, they walked by the neighbor with the basketball and she jumped and nipped him in the leg.

I wasn’t at the scene but I know, that this was a no-brainer to avoid: 

1. Walk into a different directions, cross the street, go around the person with the basketball. 

2. Follow the training routine, don’t let the dog get to the point of over-stimulation, use the training to keep her focused. 

3. Ask the person to step out of the way because your dog gets nervous around basketballs. 

Either one of those solutions seem reasonable to me. And Missy would still be happy with her family in her home. Instead, this preventable incident turned into a huge scene. 911 was called, 2 police cars, a firetruck, an ambulance and animal control showed up. The person who got nipped in the leg, went to the hospital but his injury was so minor, that he did NOT need any medical treatment. Animal control determined, that Missy was NOT a danger to society, they actually commented on what a nice dog she was, after they tried to agitate her and push to see, how far they could go with her and all she did, was try to kiss them! But according to law, Missy had be quarantined for 10 days. Because she is such a nice dog and was not determined to be vicious, she was able to stay in her home during that time. But I have to warn you: Animal control has ALL the power in these kind of situations, they can determined a dog to be dangerous at their discretion. And then, there is nothing you can do, to save your dog’s life. Especially, if your dog is an American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Mastiff, Bulldog, or a mix of those.

The hysteria is big. So, where is Missy now? She is back at the rescue. Her adopters brought her back with tears in her eyes. I had to hold back, not to start crying, because I know, that I wouldn’t have been able to stop. Missy has always been one of my special heartbreakers because I know, how much she longs for a family to love her. On the other hand, I am happy, that she is back with us, safe. Now I know for next time, I have to be even more careful in placing her. So, that Missy truly has a forever home. Somebody who is sensible to her needs, somebody who loves her unconditionally and somebody who protects her. Because Missy is a wonderful girl!

If you are interested in adopting Missy please visit the website of Pacific Coast Dog Rescue and contact Ingrid.

Please also check the video interview with Ingrid Hurel here.

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