BOOKS: Nobody’s Pets
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:
by Debra White
Four Footed Friends (P.O. Box 25736, Tempe, AZ 85285), 2001.
Nobody’s Pet is a tale about shelter dogs and cats, told by
the animals themselves, through longtime Maricopa County Animal Care
& Control volunteer Debra White. The book begins with two men
breaking into an animal shelter at night to steal the animals with
the intention of selling them to labs for use in experiments.
The stolen cats and dogs escape and find their way home after
The dialogue among the animals is unconvincing, partly
because there is little character development. There is also little
atmosphere because the place descriptions are superficial.
It is unfortunate that the book is disjointed and lacking in
depth, as the author’s heart is in the right place.
Thousands of dogs and cats have been stolen for sale to labs,
chiefly through fraudulent adoption of free-to-good-home animals,
but breaking into shelters to supply labs has no documented
precedent. In truth, pounds contiue to provide as many animals to
labs as they want, either for free or at nominal cost. This
practice has been outlawed for 20 years or more in 13 states, but
continues in Jackson, Michigan, for example, despite active local
opposition since the early 1960s.
Shelter break-ins are, however, a growing problem.
Sacramento city animal control chief Hector Cazares, previously
animal control chief for San Diego County, recently told Sacra-mento
Bee staff writer Mareva Brown that over the years he has seen a
pattern to shelter break-ins.
“Almost always, it’s been [to take] a condemned animal,”
Cazares said, “and it’s almost always a pit bull terrier.”
Only one exception turned up in the ANIMAL PEOPLE dog and cat
theft files from the past half dozen years. That was the theft of
three chow-mix puppies from the Colorado Humane Society in February
2004. Convicted perpetrator Ryan Turtura, 20, on April 29, 2005
accepted a 10.5-year plea bargain sentence for setting the puppies on
fire, killing two of them, and giving methamphetamines to two