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Adopt-a-Pet: The sad saga of Scruffy

September 15, 2008 | 10:15 am

Scruffy waits for a home at the West LA shelter

Mirja Bishop volunteers at the West Los Angeles shelter, where she met Scruffy (ID# A0964196),  pictured above.  He was brought into the shelter as a stray in June and has been there since, winning hearts but alas, so far, no home. 

We'll let Mirja take Scruffy's story from here:

I first saw him on July 22. He didn’t even have a name! He huddled alone in the back of his cage, shivering in fear and staring into space. He was dirty and smelly, but he had a cute terrier beard hanging over his square jaw. You couldn’t help but smile at him -- but he didn’t smile back.

Most of the dogs at the shelter are eager and willing to take a treat, but the nameless one just stared and was not interested. He gazed straight ahead as if I wasn't even there. His eyes told a million stories; if only he could talk to us!

I thought if I sat quietly with him in his cage he might feel some comfort, but he quickly retreated to the closed area in the back of his cage. He peered out at me and didn’t move, and neither did I. He showed no interest in the treats I brought with me or the cooked ham that a kindly member of the shelter staff offered him. I sat quietly in his cage and talked softly to him. After a short time he ventured out of his enclosure -- not to visit with me but to stare at the people passing by. He looked at me as he slithered along the wall in front of my feet. I wondered what he was thinking.

Eventually he sat down within arm’s reach.

He didn't move away when I reached over to scratch his chest, but his expression remained distant and his glazed eyes stared straight ahead as if to say, "What’s the use?”

As I sat there with him I wondered what this precious boy had been through to reach this point of despair. He seemed totally disconnected and fearful of human contact. The shelter noises made him tremble -- the dogs barking, the water coming from the hose. He was fearful of life itself. As I watched him sitting alone in the first cage at the West Los Angeles Shelter, staring through the wires (perhaps looking for his special someone or hoping that a special someone would find him), I felt a tear run down my cheek.

After a short vacation I returned to the shelter in early August. The nameless one now had a name: Scruffy. That’s a good name for this adorable little boy. The volunteer staff and animal control technicians had worked on his socialization and his response to me, although still fearful, was much more outgoing than before. I sat in his cage and he allowed me to pet him. He even gave my arm a lick as if to say “thank you.” I was thrilled when he took a treat -- in fact he took several. I took him out to the grassy area so that he could sniff around; he was still frightened and getting him back to his cage was difficult, but life seemed a little more tolerable for him. His eyes, though still very sad, had a little glimmer of hope that maybe good things might happen to him.

Scruffy remains at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter. He is a favorite of many of the volunteers (including me) and the staff. He is much more outgoing now and looks quite handsome after his recent bath. He is a sweet, sweet boy who would make a wonderful pet for that special family. We hope and pray!!

Scuffy2 The shelter's website lists Scruffy as a medium-sized, un-neutered male, about 10 years old. He sure does look like he's had a tough life; isn't he deserving of a spot on the couch and a personalized dog dish?  We sure think so.

Mirja tells us that Scruffy has come out of his shell a good deal recently -- he even wags his tail at people as they pass.  He's become much more comfortable with Mirja and other shelter staff and volunteers, and Mirja reports, "He is loved by all of the animal control technicians and the feeling is quite mutual."

Scruffy is at the West L.A. shelter on 11361 West Pico Blvd., and you can get more information on him at the shelter's site (linked above), or by calling L.A. Animal Services at 888-4LAPET1.  His ID# once again is A0964196.

UPDATE 9/22/08:  Mirja tells us that Scruffy was adopted this past weekend and will be heading off to his new home soon!  Congratulations Scruffy!

--Lindsay Barnett

Photos: Los Angeles Department of Animal Services

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