This past April I met a sweet, happy pup at the Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter and took pictures of her for PetFinder. She was a beautiful boxer girl named Kendra. Adopted as a puppy by a young couple who trained and loved her, Kendra now found herself at the shelter in the blink of an eye. She had spent the first five years of her life in a nurturing and attentive home, but then the couple split up. Neither one of them wanted the responsibility of caring for a dog. Kendra was easily and swiftly relinquished – just like that.
Six weeks later, I returned to the shelter for another picture-snapping visit. After visiting both the boys’ and girls’ cat rooms and taking dozens of pictures, I made my way to the kitten room, past the row of dog enclosures. One of the pups was repeatedly jumping seven feet into the air, climbing all the way up to the top and circling back around to the floor while barking and barking and barking. The top of the pen had additional padding stuffed into the spaces between the door and the gate to prevent the pup from escaping. “Wow! Who is this?” I asked. Then it hit me . . . Kendra! Ohhh noooo… This beautiful girl was not doing well. She was showing signs of going ‘kennel crazy’.
Even though the staff and the volunteers regularly take Kendra for walks and try to give her some extra attention, it is certainly not anything like the her previous experience of living in a home. Kendra – like many other dogs in shelters – just can’t cope with the sudden change, the feelings of being caged in, the relative lack of attention . . . they begin to exhibit behaviors that almost assure they will be passed by quickly by potential adopters!
The folks at the shelter tell me she is a terrific pup once she is out of her pen. She loves people, but has never really learned to get along with other animals (another reason she has become hard to adopt.) Placing her in a foster family would help Kendra tremendously – if one could be found. There are more than a hundred rescue groups just in NJ – all vying for the limited number of foster and adoptive families! To find a family that already didn’t have a pet or that was willing to work diligently with her . . . well, it’s the same story over and over again.
The shelter staff does the very best they can do. I have been there enough to know that they give all the animals as much care and attention as humanly possible. However, from a pup’s point of view it’s like being in jail.
It breaks my heart to see Kendra so very unhappy. So very confused. So very much unlike the wonderful pup I met just six short weeks ago.