Romeo is the dog whose family left him at the shelter in spite of a sign clearly explaining that the shelter was full and any owner-surrendered dogs could be killed immediately. He had lived with his family for four years, and they said that he got along with their children. They said he is housebroken, friendly, trained and patient. But they still left him at the shelter to die.
His original story, Betrayed dog looks at family leaving; sign says he can be killed immediately, received 28,000 likes on Facebook. After all the publicity, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) offered to take Romeo into their shelter. That sounded like a wonderful opportunity for Romeo. He had been devastated when his family left him at the shelter, and he was not doing well there. The original article said,
“Romeo is one of those abandoned dogs, and he is truly heartbroken. He somehow realized that the only family he has ever known has left him in a place with dogs who cry for human companionship. He has been traumatized by the betrayal of his family, and he has shut down in his kennel. Because of his behavior, he is on the list to be killed.
Yet before they left Romeo to die, they told the shelter that he is friendly, housebroken, trained, and patient. He lived with children. But in the kennels, all he wants is to run and try to find his family — he is in flight mode. He is listed as a Golden Retriever mix.”
But at the same time that HSTB was taking Romeo from one shelter to another, he had several other offers of rescue. One family actually went to the shelter to adopt him. But even knowing that his former family said he lived with children, they wouldn’t allow the family to adopt him because they had a young child. In fact, the workers refused to go into the kennel with Romeo to get him. The family was willing to sign a waiver of liability. The first article states that Romeo is extremely depressed in the shelter and is very unhappy in his kennel. Dogs do act differently in a kennel than they will once out of the cage. But the family didn’t get the opportunity to meet with Romeo outside of the kennel.
Don’t Be Cruel Animal Rescue called Hillsborough County Pet Services to indicate that they wanted to pull Romeo, and they sent in the paperwork to make that happen. But when Ellona Bateman-Lee called the shelter to say her foster would be arriving to pick Romeo up, she was told that Romeo had left to go to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The adopter and the rescue reached out to HSTB, only to be told that they would be evaluating Romeo before deciding what to do with him.
Bateman-Lee is very disturbed by the way this was handled. “We had a foster lined up. She was going to evaluate him for us so we could decide whether to send him to rehab and training or if he could be adopted out directly.” Another rescuer is concerned because when she called the shelter, no one would answer her questions about Romeo’s future. Francie Traschen Ducatel, called HSTB and they told her that Romeo was being assessed. She asked if he would be available for adoption soon and was told that hadn’t been determined. She then asked if he was safe, and the person from HSTB would not answer that question either.
So the big question is what happens if HSTB evaluates Romeo at the shelter and he doesn’t pass. Remember, he’s still in a shelter where his behavior is not his normal behavior. He is shut down and frightened. Dogs react differently when they are not at the shelter. What are the plans for Romeo if he doesn’t do well on his evaluation?
People who are active in rescue in Tampa and who are familiar with HSTB are very concerned about Romeo’s fate. They are afraid that this dog will be betrayed yet again by the people who are purporting to rescue him, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The concerned people want to make it clear that Romeo deserves a chance. When a dog like Romeo reacts so horribly in a shelter — terrified and depressed — it makes no sense to send him somewhere where he will be in another shelter, in a kennel, instead of being in a home. Romeo needs to be in a home environment where he can begin to decompress and feel safe.
Bateman-Lee said, “I believe he needs to be evaluated in an atmosphere where he is comfortable — not a shelter or kennel — by a trainer or someone who is experienced in temperament testing. We are willing to take him and do whatever it takes to keep him safe. We do not want him euthanized.” Bateman-Lee has 23 years of experience rescuing dogs and 30 years of experience working with dogs. She said her rescue is willing to send Romeo for training if that is what it takes to keep him safe.
So please pay attention to Romeo’s story. Please pay attention to his fate. Let’s all make sure that Romeo’s rescue is truly that — a rescue. He needs to be given every chance to succeed, not evaluated, found wanting, and killed. If HSTB does not want to rehabilitate Romeo, there are others who do. Please call them at (813) 876-7138 if you are interested in Romeo or you want to let them know your thoughts about his future.
Follow the Chicago Pets Examiner on Twitter and Facebook.