Dog Is Too Full Of Life To Be Running Out Of Time At The Shelter
If Piper learned anything from being tied to a pole with a very short rope, it's to savor every precious inch of life, no matter how fleeting.
And in that sense, the 5-year-old pit bull was fortunate. He was freed from the pitiful streetside post where he had been abandoned.
"We tracked his microchip and it tracked to someone," Katy Hansen of Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC) tells The Dodo. "And she was actually unable to reclaim the dog because she had to move to public housing."
For a while, Piper savored his new life at the shelter. Call it an awakening. The freed dog spent his time making friends among humans and dogs alike.
As a publicly funded shelter, ACC is "open admission," meaning they don't turn away any animals. That spells some 34,000 animals crossing its threshold every year. It also means, due to the harsh reality of limited resources, not every animal leaves alive.
Piper is perilously close to becoming one of those animals. He has been classified as at-risk. His name and number are on the shelter's euthanasia list. Although we don't know exactly how much time he has, it's safe to say that without intervention from the public, his days are numbered.
Hansen says the shelter is the only system in the country that makes its euthanasia list public on a regular basis.
"The reason why we do that is to give them one last chance. One last opportunity for someone in the general public to say, 'This dog is sick. I can take care of him' or 'I can give him training.'"
Piper isn't sick. He may need training. His biggest concern is time. A month into shelter life, he's already showing signs of shutting down.
His grins can turn to growls. His anxiety is increasingly evident. And tragically, as that hopelessness festers, people see less and less of the real Piper - only a dog who feels the walls around him all-too keenly.
"Sometimes what happens is that the dogs just can't stand the kennel environment. We take them out for playgroups. We take them out on walks. But they're in that kennel a lot."
Piper will leave that kennel, finally. One way or another.