Sep 19 2011

The other California immigrants

Published by at 3:52 pm under Oregon,Washington

From Linda Watkins, Ridenbaugh Press editor who works with rescue dogs through PEt Adoption Network.

Facebook and several Oregon news stations are full of updates today about a “rescue bus” that broke down in Grants Pass yesterday. The bus was carrying approximately 100 small dogs released from the East County Animal Shelter in Los Angeles and bound for Sunny Sky’s Rescue in Puyallup. Included is one Chihuahua who just had puppies, and another ready to whelp at any moment.

At the last report state police had arrived with water, help, and volunteers. Groups on Facebook have set up donation accounts to help the rescue with bus repairs, possible vehicle rentals, and/or housing for the dogs if needed.

It’s turning into a heartwarming story of people trying to help otherwise doomed animals and needing help themselves – another story of the community stepping up to help neighbors in need.

But the drama of the story overshadows the real question: Why in the heck are 100+ dogs being shipped out of California to Washington state for adoption? Aside from the fact that such a long drive can’t be good for small dogs who already have some health issues, surely with their population California shouldn’t have any problem finding homes for these dogs in-state?

Sadly the answer is “no” – the dogs are being shipped north because there are no homes for them in California. Nor is there enough space in the California shelters or rescues for these dogs.

In the last three years the number of dogs being shipped out of California has skyrocketed.

At first there were single-dog or at most a half-dozen to a dozen-dog transports from Northern and North Coast shelters. It made sense as these shelters are actually closer and more easily accessible for Oregon rescues. Then a few Central California shelter dogs were added into the mix. And that made sense too as they were usually sending breeds in high demand up north, but in short supply – breeds like Chihuahuas, small terriers, poodles, etc. It seems that most of the dogs in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia shelters were larger, outdoorsy, active breeds and the small house and lap dogs were hard to come by. So providing a few of California’s excess “ankle biters” the opportunity to have a good home seemed like a good thing to do.

As the rescue networks grew, and the transportation up I-5 became more established, the numbers of dogs increased, and they started coming from shelters further south: Stanislaus County/Modesto, Kern County/Bakersfield, Lancaster, San Bernardino/Devore, Los Angeles, and Orange County. And as word of the abysmal conditions in these shelters spread, more rescues (and shelters) offered to take more of these easily adoptable small dogs – resulting in multiple transports that regularly ferry 40 to 100 dogs per week to the Pacific Northwest.

There’s no doubt that these dogs needed to get out of the shelters: Each day I hear (and have experienced) more horror stories about the conditions in the California shelters: overcrowded and underfunded, many of them contain twice the number of animals they were built to hold; dogs sit in overcrowded cages and fight for food as they are not able to be fed separately; the lack of volunteers and shelter staff means little exercise or attention and minimal sanitation; dogs coming in as strays with broken bones or other injuries are left without medical treatment and at the end of their “stray hold” period are either euthanized or offered to “rescue only;” kennel cough is rampant because of the overcrowding and lack of sanitation. Dogs come out of the shelters dehydrated, underfed, severely depressed, suffering from PTSD, and severe upper respiratory diseases as well as parasites, parvo, and distemper.

A healthy, well-adjusted dog will have some chance of getting out onto the adoption floor, but for each dog that makes it that far, several will go into the “holding” area where they will eventually be killed unless a rescue can find room to take them. So it’s no wonder that shelters and rescues in other states are stepping up to help these dogs – but the cost is great.

There is, of course the actual, medical costs. One rescue just spent close to $1,000 on a younger female cattle dog who arrived with a pyometra infection, one eye destroyed due to glaucoma, and the other ulcerated and infected from some injury. She was an owner surrender – her owner had dumped her at the shelter along with two pit bulls who were put down immediately. Sandy was allowed to live another week without any vet treatment and in severe pain. The day before she was scheduled to be killed a rescue was found, she was pulled and sent on her way to Washington. She’s a lovely dog and after two surgeries (including removal of both eyes) and an ear cleaning that had to be done while she was under anesthetic because it was so advanced and painful, she’s going to be a wonderful companion for someone. But at what cost?

As Sandy’s foster mom commented when she saw the information on another dog in a nearby Washington shelter: “If I didn’t have Sandy, I’d take that one in an instant.” And that’s the other cost of bringing in scores of dogs from another state. I’ve talked with many of the smaller, more isolated shelters around Washington and Oregon and they’re all saying the same thing: They rely on the larger shelters and rescues in more accessible and heavily populated area to help get their dogs into more adoptable situations – but there isn’t as much room anymore because those shelters are now taking the California dogs – which they can move a lot more quickly than some undersocialized mutt from the Eastern Oregon desert.

The other issue is that no matter how many dogs are taken out of California (and similar situations exist in other parts of the country – dogs in crowded Southeastern shelters are shipped to the Northeast and eastern Canada, for instance) the supply does not appear to be lessening. In the last few years as efforts to put puppy mills out of business have increased, the owners of those puppy mills have done what you’d expect of irresponsible breeders: they’ve continued to breed, and any dogs they can’t get rid of, they dump at the shelters, or they dump them by the side of the road where they’re picked up by animal control.

The vast majority of these dogs are Chihuahuas and Chi mixes – the little dogs that became a fashion accessory for the Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears wanna-bes. When these little girls discovered that the dogs needed actual care and attention they got rid of them – at a shelter or in a dumpster – where ever it happened to be convenient to drop them off. And while the demand has somewhat waned, the puppy mills are still making some money and so are continuing to produce more dogs. But they’re not selling as many, and the national movement to stop folks from buying puppy mill dogs is building so they’re not even able to dump the dogs online or by mail order.

And there’s been another development: California’s Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a “puppy mill” bill in 2009, but the state sentiment was strongly in support of the bill and in the years since four California cities (West Hollywood, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, and South Lake Tahoe) have passed ordinances banning the sale of puppy mill dogs within the city limits. So while at this stage it appears that the market for these puppy mill dogs is decreasing, there does not seem to be a reduction in the production and the excess is being dumped in the shelters.

There’s also a social/cultural element in California that many people forget: Especially in the central and southern part of the state, there are two deeply divided societies. When most people think of the state, they think of the ultra-liberal San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley; and the trendy, liberal, Hollywood/Los Angeles movie enclave. Remember, however that California’s roots are deeply planted in the agricultural areas of the Central and San Joaquin valleys – the areas where many of the large, overcrowded shelters are located. Within these areas the dominant culture is one of a more rural, farming, utilitarian nature – one that views animals more as tools or farm equipment than as the “furpeople” of their western neighbors.

Economically strapped, especially in today’s economy, the residents of the eastern agricultural valleys don’t have the time, the money, or the cultural imperative to get their dogs spayed or neutered. If the dog has pups and you don’t want the pups there are three alternatives: kill them, dump them, or drop them at the shelter. And if a dog wanders off finding it is not usually a high priority activity.

Between the valley culture and the puppy mills, there’s no wonder that California’s shelters are stuffed to the gills. The question now is what do we do about it? Because much as we’d like to, we can’t continue to clean up California’s mess – we don’t have the room, and we don’t have the money.

There are many fine rescue groups in California, and they’re doing the best they can to address the problem, but in a state of 37 million residents, the rescue community is a drop in the bucket and they have yet to find their voice to call attention to this issue. So they’ve reached out to their neighbors, and we’ve done what neighbors do: We’ve tried to help. Unfortunately, without some effort on the part of California to control the problem, our help will not be enough and there’s a good chance we’ll end up hurting our own states in the process.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Comments are closed at this time.

Share on Facebook



WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.



This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015. By Randy Stapilus; published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 202 pages. Softcover. List price $16.95.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.



"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
Drafted! Vietnam in War and in Peace. by David R. Frazier; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton OR. 188 pgs. Softcover. $15.95.
The DRAFTED! page.


Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.

Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
Conversations with Atiyeh. by W. Scott Jorgensen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 140 pages. Softcover. $14.95.

"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.


by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at (softcover)



NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?


The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)


by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)

without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.


How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.