Saturday, March 03, 2007

Today's Rescue - Baldwin Park Super Special

I took a trip down to Baldwin Park on Friday to drop off blankets and towels for the dogs at the county shelter (County Shelter #4 according to the sign). I'd never been to Baldwin Park, and I'd never been to one of the L.A. county shelters, so it was a day of firsts.

The staff was very, very happy to receive what I'd brought, which included several huge bagfuls of linen scooped up in a mad 2-for-1 Goodwill shopping frenzy (thank you, Samantha!), two hampers full of towels and about a dozen tie-back seat cushions that my mom had collected for smaller dogs. They were so pleased with the load that they opened the back gate and let me drive directly into their inner sanctum, if you will, to drop everything off.

I can now say first hand, it's truly no frills at Baldwin Park: no spacious cages, no fancy heating/cooling systems, no creature comforts of any kind. And not a single volunteer (at least, not that I saw). It's pretty bleak, although the staff was very helpful and very friendly.

The runs reminded me a little of factory farming cages in that rusted, lock down, industrial sort-of-way, although I overheard one little boy say more appropriately to his mother: It's a prison! Indeed. This is no "care center" (as the LAAS shelters are now calling themselves).

But of course, the dogs were wonderful. They always are.

This poor little guy has a cataract in one eye, an obvious problem with the other and a big cast on his leg. He attempted to drag himself over to the bars, but couldn't quite manage it.

This boy was very, very depressed, although he wanted me to stroke his big black nose. Even though he probably hasn't been bathed in God knows how long, his fur was silky and super soft. A really gorgeous dog.

This little guy can't understand why he's been behind bars for so long - that look on his face says, What's with the fence? Why can't I just be out there with you? The majority of the evidence dogs at the Baldwin Park shelter have been there since last April - that's almost a year in those tiny cages. A year! Plus, most of them are humane cases and have most likely been victims of extreme abuse. They either sit on the concrete and stare out at nothing, or curl into a ball in a dark corner. Wouldn't you? There needs to be a better system - a more humane one, ironically. Why should the dogs be the ones suffering?

Anyway, these photos are literally just the tip of the iceberg at Baldwin Park. I think I saw close to 200 dogs there on Friday. They need blankets, they need treats, they need love. The shelter needs volunteers. They need HELP.

Luckily, my trip ended on a hopeful note: As I was leaving, a woman named Debra was transferring a sweet little pit girl to the county shelter in Agoura, where she'll enter a training program and have a better shot at adoption. Debra was thinking of naming her "Minnie." Doesn't they both look happy?

(Minnie's impound number is A3629589.)

Baldwin Park Animal Shelter

4275 Elton St.
Baldwin Park, CA 91706

M-Th: 12pm-7pm
F, Sa: 10am-5pm
Closed Sundays and holidays

For more information, call L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control at 626.962.3577 or go to

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