Los Angeles Pup My Ride

by Best Friends Animal Society
Vetted

Best Friends has made the difficult decision to end our Los Angeles shelter transport program, which has been planned over many months. The staff and resources that had been focused on this transport program will now be devoted to the final push of Best Friends’ NKLA initiative to make the city of Los Angeles a no-kill community in 2017.

Re-allocating resources in this way is never an easy decision. However, there is a larger context here that includes other transport partners for the county shelters — most notably the ASPCA, which in 2014 announced a multi-year, $25 million commitment to the greater Los Angeles area that includes a well-funded shelter transport piece for L.A. County.

Over the years, our transport program has seen great success, with more than 14,000 animals relocated to communities where there is a shortage of small dogs rather than a surplus, as there was in Los Angeles County.

Thanks to support from donors like you, who give through GlobalGiving, and our No Kill Los Angeles Coalition partners, small dogs in the LA city shelter system have been reduced to numbers that can be managed locally. Making our transport program no longer necessary.

That being said, Best Friends is still working hard to make Los Angeles a no-kill community in 2017, and your continued support will help us reach this goal.

Below is another success stories from our transport programs.

It was heartbreaking to see Pippa so scared. The little red spaniel spent her days curled up on her bed, watching the world go by with a look on her face that said, “Don’t come near me.”

After losing her home, she landed at a busy Los Angeles Animal Services shelter, where she was understandably overwhelmed and confused. And even after arriving at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center, she didn’t show any signs of relaxing. It seemed that Pippa had decided to keep everyone away from her, even though everyone she met only wanted to help.

Getting Pippa to her happy place meant taking a chance, but it was worth every ounce of effort to get her into just the right home.  

While most pets settle in quickly and find homes soon after they arrive at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center, Pippa had a hard time. Staff and volunteers did their best to win her over, sitting with her in her kennel, trying to take her for walks and introducing her to other dogs. Pippa would have none of it. “She just wasn’t a happy camper,” says Miriam Giordino, lead adoptions specialist at the center.

Pippa needed a stable home where she could relax and settle in, but no one showed any interest in adopting the defensive little dog. That is, until Hollye and Henrri came along.

Hope for Pippa

Hollye had been looking online for a spaniel to adopt, and that’s how she first learned about Pippa. Excited, she called the center and talked with Miriam, who was candid about Pippa’s challenges: She was scared, she was willing to bite, and it was going to take a lot of time and patience to get through to the little dog.

“Hollye wasn’t put off by it,” Miriam says. “We spent a long time talking about her dog experience.” Even though Hollye lived two states away, in Washington, it began to sound like her home might be exactly what Pippa needed. The only way to find out was to try it and if it didn’t work out, Pippa could come back to L.A. And so it was settled. Pippa was going to Washington.

Once she arrived at the Hollye and Henrri’s home, Pippa had no trouble bonding with her new parents. In fact, she became so attached that she couldn’t bear to let Hollye and Henrri out of her sight. “We couldn’t even take showers without her crying and scratching at the door,” says Hollye. And Siri, the couple’s recently adopted pit bull puppy, scared Pippa. In fact, just about everything scared her, but Pippa’s new people remained determined to help her.

For months, they spent extra time with Pippa, reassuring her any time she got scared. They slowly helped her get used to Siri, who grew from a tiny puppy to twice Pippa’s size. It was months of two steps forward and one step back, and frustrating at times.

But no matter how hopeless it may have felt, Hollye and Henrri didn’t give up on Pippa. “We just kept loving her,” says Hollye. “I think that was the secret. She just needed to know she was in a secure place that wasn’t going to change.” Today, after a year and a half of unwavering love and reassurance, Pippa is a different dog.

Hollye kept in close contact with Miriam and other staff at the center who were rooting for Pippa in her new home. And soon, photos and updates made it clear Pippa was beginning to thrive. “I got a bit choked up when I saw photos of her with her new family,” says Miriam, “and shared them with everyone here who knew her. We’re all so happy to see her living such a great life.”

She’s also become best friends with her little (big) sister, Siri. The now grown pit bull terrier and little spaniel are inseparable, playing chase in the yard and wrestling together.

Recently, the family went on an outing to a nearby lake where Pippa took to the water like she was born for it. She paddled around on her own, following and befriending a duck. Hollye and Henrri watched, bursting with happiness at their once-scared dog. “Watching that girl swim her little heart out was the best feeling,” says Hollye. “She was just being a normal dog.”

Even though it took months of patience, work and care to get Pippa to where she is today, Hollye says, “Adopting her was one of the best decisions we’ve made.”

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It was heartbreaking to see Pippa so scared. The little red spaniel spent her days curled up on her bed, watching the world go by with a look on her face that said, “Don’t come near me.”

After losing her home, she landed at a busy Los Angeles Animal Services shelter, where she was understandably overwhelmed and confused. And even after arriving at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center, she didn’t show any signs of relaxing. It seemed that Pippa had decided to keep everyone away from her, even though everyone she met only wanted to help.

Getting Pippa to her happy place meant taking a chance, but it was worth every ounce of effort to get her into just the right home.  

An unhappy camper

While most pets settle in quickly and find homes soon after they arrive at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center, Pippa had a hard time. Staff and volunteers did their best to win her over, sitting with her in her kennel, trying to take her for walks and introducing her to other dogs. Pippa would have none of it. “She just wasn’t a happy camper,” says Miriam Giordino, lead adoptions specialist at the center.

Pippa needed a stable home where she could relax and settle in, but no one showed any interest in adopting the defensive little dog. That is, until Hollye and Henrri Morales came along.

Hope for Pippa

Hollye had been looking online for a spaniel to adopt, and that’s how she first learned about Pippa. Excited, she called the center and talked with Miriam, who was candid about Pippa’s challenges: She was scared, she was willing to bite, and it was going to take a lot of time and patience to get through to the little dog.

“Hollye wasn’t put off by it,” Miriam says. “We spent a long time talking about her dog experience.” Even though Hollye lived two states away, in Washington, it began to sound like her home might be exactly what Pippa needed.

The only way to find out was to try it and if it didn’t work out, Pippa could come back to L.A. And so it was settled. Pippa was going to Washington.

The secret

Once she arrived at the Morales’ home, Pippa had no trouble bonding with her new parents. In fact, she became so attached that she couldn’t bear to let Hollye and Henrri out of her sight. “We couldn’t even take showers without her crying and scratching at the door,” says Hollye. And Siri, the couple’s recently adopted pit bull puppy, scared Pippa. In fact, just about everything scared her, but Pippa’s new people remained determined to help her.

For months, they spent extra time with Pippa, reassuring her any time she got scared. They slowly helped her get used to Siri, who grew from a tiny puppy to twice Pippa’s size. It was months of two steps forward and one step back, and frustrating at times.

But no matter how hopeless it may have felt, Hollye and Henrri didn’t give up on Pippa. “We just kept loving her,” says Hollye. “I think that was the secret. She just needed to know she was in a secure place that wasn’t going to change.”

Today, after a year and a half of unwavering love and reassurance, Pippa is a different dog.

A bright future

Hollye kept in close contact with Miriam and other staff at the center who were rooting for Pippa in her new home. And soon, photos and updates made it clear Pippa was beginning to thrive. “I got a bit choked up when I saw photos of her with her new family,” says Miriam, “and shared them with everyone here who knew her. We’re all so happy to see her living such a great life.”

She’s also become best friends with her little (big) sister, Siri. The now grown pit bull terrier and little spaniel are inseparable, playing chase in the yard and wrestling together.

Recently, the family went on an outing to a nearby lake where Pippa took to the water like she was born for it. She paddled around on her own, following and befriending a duck. Hollye and Henrri watched, bursting with happiness at their once-scared dog. “Watching that girl swim her little heart out was the best feeling,” says Hollye. “She was just being a normal dog.”

Even though it took months of patience, work and care to get Pippa to where she is today, Hollye says, “Adopting her was one of the best decisions we’ve made.”

Blind puppy lands a home with two eye doctors.

February 11, 2015

By Kelli Harmon

The tiny brown and white puppy’s life could have ended just a few weeks after he was born. He should have had two bright eyes with which to take in the new and exciting world around him. But, instead, he was born without a left eye, and with a right eye that was malformed.. However, he had a 100-percent share of natural puppy cuteness, with his soft, wiggly body and oversized velvet brown ears.

Out of danger and into Best Friends

If the little pup had been born into a different situation, his family might have loved him the way he was and kept him. But instead, he was surrendered to a shelter in Los Angeles — weighing just two pounds, blind, and at just eight weeks old, especially susceptible to disease.

Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) caregivers, who wanted to get the puppy to safety as quickly as possible, asked staff at the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center for help. All pets at the Los Angeles–based center are pulled from the six LAAS shelters, as part of Best Friends’ goal to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017. Soon after he landed at the shelter, the puppy was on his way to Best Friends and the next phase of his life — waiting for a home and a family that wanted to raise and love a little blind puppy.

Just the right fit

It sometimes takes a bit longer to find homes for pets with special needs. Other times, the perfect family finds them right away. That’s what happened when twin sisters, both of them ophthalmologists (that’s right — eye doctors), met the tiny pup. Alice and Julia Song were immediately drawn to him, because through their work they have a special understanding of blindness.

“We care for patients with eye problems every day, even those who are blind from advanced glaucoma, those who have had an eye removed for cancer or pain, or those who were born blind,” says Alice. They also have a soft spot for little dogs in need, and in the past have adopted from and regularly donated supplies to their local shelter. It didn’t take long for the sisters to decide that this little dog would be going home with them that day.

They named him Pappy (because he looks like he could be part papillon, with his big silky ears) and immediately went to work making him comfortable in their home, which meant introducing him to their two other dogs, Kaya and Mojo. They took to the new family member, while Pappy was thrilled by his new friends. Julia says: “He loves them. They lick each other constantly and play with each other.”

Lucky in love

Pappy is learning to get around, with gentle encouragement from Alice and Julia. Alice says it just takes a few pats on the floor to convince Pappy to take a few steps in the direction they’d like him to go. “When we walk, he follows us around the room as he gets used to his surroundings,” Julia says. “He is able to get around quite well and has adapted to his physical disabilities, much like our patients who have lost vision.” And the sisters say he’s a champion at favorite puppy activities like chewing toys and crashing to sleep in adorable positions.

Just like anyone who adopts a pet from a shelter, Alice and Julia are heroes for saving a life. But it’s difficult to say who got the best end of the deal. Julia says, “It is our pleasure to have him. He's not the lucky one. We are!”

Photos by Lori Fusaro

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Pit bull terrier brightens a boy’s life.

January 9, 2015

By Kelli Harmon

To some people, Roxy might look intimidating. When the 50-pound, steely blue-gray pit bull terrier found herself homeless in a Los Angeles Animal Services shelter, she joined many, many other dogs who look a lot like her. But today she’s one in a million — a priceless companion to a boy who needed her just as much as she needed a home.

A good girl

Roxy was probably confused as to why she was dropped off at the shelter one day. It’s an understandably scary place for pets who have only known life in a home. Roxy knew things, too. She was house trained and knew how to sit and shake hands. If only someone would adopt her, she’d get to show off the skills someone had taken the time to teach her.

Best Friends staff spotted Roxy at the shelter and brought her to the Best Friends Pet Adoption and Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles. All pets at the center come from one of six Los Angeles city shelters, as part of Best Friends’ goal to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2017. Thousands of pets die in L.A. city shelters each year and the moment Roxy entered the shelter, she could have become a statistic. Instead, she settled into her new digs at the center to wait for someone to choose her.

Meant for each other

Just two days after Roxy arrived at the center, a staff person came to take her out of her run and brought her into a small room where Amanda Granados and her 13-year-old son, Joey, were waiting. Roxy walked right past Amanda and climbed up into Joey’s lap, nuzzling him as though the two were best friends who hadn’t seen one another for years. “She was all over him,” Amanda says. “Their connection was immediate.”

Both Amanda and the Best Friends adoption specialist couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Because Joey has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, it’s difficult for him to accept or give back hugs and cuddles. But kids with Asperger’s can sometimes develop close relationships with pets. It’s one of the reasons Amanda thought about adopting a dog. When Joey reciprocated Roxy’s single-minded affection, it was clear that the two were meant for each other.

Roxy was the only dog Amanda needed to meet that day. She filled out the paperwork, and Roxy was on her way home.

A dog’s dream

In the weeks since she arrived at Joey and Amanda’s home, Roxy has been living a dog’s dream. She quickly learned the ropes, showing off her skills and learning a few new cues. She’s also changed at least one person’s perception of pit bull terriers. Amanda says, “In general, I thought pit bulls were mean dogs. The news is always showing bad stories about them, you know?”

But the main goal for Roxy is to stick by Joey’s side wherever he goes. She’s a lap dog, she snores when she sleeps, she’s polite when new people come over and she gets along with the family’s other dog (who Joey never really connected with). Every night when Joey goes to bed, Roxy climbs in next to him and curls up until morning. In short, there’s not a mean bone in her body. Amanda says, “She completely changed the way I think about pit bulls.”

And Roxy has changed Joey’s life, too. “He’s more loving. He’s not a very affectionate person, but he hugs her all the time and lets her kiss him. They’re always together,” Amanda says. “She’s opened up his heart.”

Photos by Lori Fusaro and Amanda Granados

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Rescued dog, adopted from the Sanctuary, rescues his new person.

January 14, 2015

By Christelle L. Del Prete

Darby’s life started out rather bleak. He’d been in and out of shelters in Los Angeles, and then ended up getting hit by a car. The adorable little terrier mix with giant ears and a wiry coat needed specialty surgery and cage rest, so Best Friends–Los Angeles staff transferred him to the Sanctuary where he’d get expert care, and hopefully soon find his forever home. Little did anyone know that Darby would one day show he belongs in the same category as Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.

Bouncing back

Once he arrived at the Sanctuary in Utah, the little survivor quickly got the surgery and medical attention he needed at the Best Friends Animal Clinic, and it didn’t take long for him to bounce back. After a few weeks of crate rest, he was up and about.

Although he still had a little “hitch in his giddyup,” as Dogtown caregiver Haven Diaz affectionately puts it, Darby’s mobility issues weren’t severe and didn’t get in the way of his enjoyment of life. During the month he spent recuperating at the Sanctuary, Darby was friendly with people and got a lot of one-on-one socialization time with his caregivers and Dogtown volunteers. He even strode happily out of his building to greet the visitor tours that stopped by each day.

 

“The way it was going to be”

Then, one day, it happened. Repeat volunteers Ray and Machelle Lyons were helping out at the Clubhouse, the area of Dogtown where Darby lived. Active world travelers and adventurers, Ray and Machelle had settled down to the point where they knew they could provide a great home for a dog. During that trip, they were on the lookout for a good match — so Haven introduced them to Darby.

As soon as Ray sat down in the kennel with the dog, “Darby walked straight over and adopted me,” says Ray. “We knew that was the way it was going to be.” But their love story doesn’t end there.

 

Rescued dog turns hero dog

About two months after Darby went home to Colorado, there was severe weather with lots of snow and ice. Ray was outside with Darby, when he slipped and fell. When Machelle returned home from work that evening, she says, “Ray seemed dazed and confused. He didn't know what had happened to the last several hours and was surprised to see it was dark outside. He had no recollection of the day except that he took Darby out for a walk, and he woke up later with Darby licking him on the face and nose.”

The fall had apparently caused a concussion, and Ray didn’t even remember how he got home. “If Darby had not woken him up, he could have frozen to death,” Machelle says. But Ray does remember one other thing from that day — how concerned and worried Darby was about him. “He sat by my side for hours, and every time I almost fell asleep, Darby would wake me up. He’s a real rescue dog, in every sense.”

 

“A joy”

Though Darby was a little shy and not particularly confident when he first went home, being a hero seems to have helped with that. “He has made himself part of the family,” Ray says. “He's a real treat and treasure — just a joy.” And Ray and Machelle are just as thankful to have Darby as he is to have them. After all, this is one dog who knows how to pay it forward.

 

Photos by Best Friends staff and courtesy of Ray and Machelle

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Organization Information

Best Friends Animal Society

Location: Kanab, UT - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.bestfriends.org/​
Project Leader:
Myla Burns
Development Officer, Workplace Campaigns
Kanab, UT Utah United States

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