Monday, June 6, 2011

San Francisco

This past week I took a 3-day trip with my friends to San Francisco. I had never been to the West Coast at all and enjoyed seeing the Pacific for the first time, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, and eating amazing food.

Of course I visited what I consider to be the dogs of the sea-- Sea Lions! They are super social creatures, who love lazing around all day, barking at each other and growling when their sunny sleeps get interrupted.


As I am an obsessive dog-watcher, I looked out for dogs everywhere we went. I loved watching the dogs romp on the beach and play off-leash at Alamo Square. We came across this lovely girl, Luna- who hammed-it-up on the grass by rolling onto my feet and gently nipping at me to get more affection-- Look at that smile!

We also met bunches of other Golden Retrievers, Labs, French Bulldogs, Collies and other great dogs- Unfortunately, I was sad to find that there weren't many mixed breed dogs or pit mixes around. I figured that this meant that there are fewer unwanted/unplanned litters in SF and therefore, fewer shelter dogs. In New York, pit bulls are everywhere- when I stepped out of the path station I was excited to see not only more dogs, but more mutts and more pitties- I guess I am a little biased against pure-breed dogs because I figure they need less help in this world.

I did run into one Pit bull while in San Fran and happily sat down with his owner, a homeless ex-U.S. marine.

San Fran has a surprisingly large homeless population- I've been told because of the nice weather and friendly people. When I met this man and sat next to him- his dog (Tyrell), instantly climbed out of his owner's lap and gave me plenty of kisses. He laid down (belly-up) next to me on the side-walk and enjoyed getting his belly scratched.

Tyrell's owner told me that he gets all the vet care he needs because in SF, it is illegal to turn away an animal in need, just as it is illegal to turn away a person who needs emergency care. This makes it financially possible not only for Tyrell to have a "home" of sorts, but also for his owner to have companionship. He told me that Tyrell is his best friend in the whole world, and inspired him to get off the streets and to buy a van for them to sleep in. Together, they share a sleeping bag. Tyrell even protects his owner at night and has bitten another homeless man who tried to steal their things. It seems like a wild life, but the more I heard about this duo- the more sure I became that they really needed each other- and that neither of them would get by without the other.

Fortunately, due to a law that forces pit bulls to be neutered- Tyrell was neutered at the age of only 2 months to prevent over-population and he cannot contribute to more homeless pets, although the law apparently does not apply to other breeds of dogs. I gave his owner $20 for dog food and wished them luck and was so happy I saw a pit bull before leaving San Fran.

Does anyone know more about the shelter system there and why pit bulls must be neutered so young?

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