How I Snuck a Dog Off of Death Row: With Apologies to Iowa

You know when I’ve spent the morning researching statutes of limitations on controlled narcotics, it’s going to be a good story.

I’ve told this story on another one of my blogs, but it is one of my favorite stories in my life of rescuing animals, so it is worth repeating. It’s a bit lengthy, but it is full of murder, mystery, intrigue, sex and rock n roll.

Ok, it’s really about a dog who was court ordered to die and how we faked his death to save his life. So strap in kids, because it’s going to be one hell of a ride and mommy’s drunk!**

**I strongly advocate against driving drunk. I especially advocate against driving drunk with your kids in the car. If you find yourself doing this, you should probably check yourself into rehab. But find someone else to drive you, you drunk.

MOST people are used to thinking that animal shelters are the ones putting animals down and not saving them (which is largely not true), but I am about to blow your freaking mind with this story because it is about a dog who was ordered to be put down by a judge, and how the animal shelter saved the dog.

Names are HEAVILY changed because I am not 100% confident in my ability to read statute of limitation laws. I think we shall change dates and locations, too. Just to be safe.

This happened at a shelter in Iowa at which I worked in the late 80s. I was some kind of animal shelter worker phenom, and completely bypassed grade school and went right into animal sheltering (also, I’m pretty sure you can’t prosecute something I did when I was just a child). My mom was a little hesitant about letting her small child quit school and go work at an animal shelter, “But your barely 10, should you really be working around wild animals?” And I was like, “Duh, Mom, it is an animal shelter not a wildlife center, learn the difference, Simpleton.” And with that I slapped on my slap bracelet, dabbed some Debbie Gibson Electric Youth perfume behind my ears, and headed off to be the youngest career woman the animal sheltering world ever saw.

Don't leave the boardroom without it

Don’t leave the boardroom without it

We had this dog at the shelter, I will call him “Dog”. Dog was a bulldog who, along with four other dogs, belonged to some particularly reckless people who saw no problem with letting all five dogs run loose to wreak havoc on the neighborhood. In particular, they killed several of the neighbors’ chickens. The day came where they had killed one too many chickens, and they were all rounded up and brought to animal control. A hearing date was set for the dogs and their owners.

While we waited for that hearing date to arrive, the staff became attached to Dog. He stood out from the other four because he was well mannered and calm, unlike the other dogs who were hyper and unruly.

And let me emphasize this: they were hyper and unruly through no fault of their own. That is what happens when you are a dog living with reckless, irresponsible assholes.

We once took Dog out to meet some chickens that lived on the shelter property to see if he had the inclination to go all psycho, chicken-eater on their asses. He had no interest in those damn chickens. Even when they ran right by him. This dog was not a chicken murderer, for sure.

Unfortunately, the judge presiding over the case (I don’t remember his name, I’ve always referred to him as Judge Poopypants. I was 10, give me a break.) did not see how awesome Dog was, and he ordered that all 5 dogs be put down. All of them. And that is why I called him Judge Poopypants.

Not long after Judge Poopypants invented himself as “The Grim Reaper of Dogs”, and after we performed “The Great Chicken Experiment”, some officers from the Iowa bomb squad showed up to look at our dogs. They often liked to test shelter dogs to see if they might make good bomb detection dogs, and we always gave them the dogs they liked. We were a high volume shelter, so any way we could get the dogs leaving alive, was a huge plus to us.

As luck would have it, one of the officers, Officer Ponytail (name changed), fell in love with Dog. As well she should because he was a fucking awesome dog. She wanted to test him and I had to tell her the sad news: Dog had just received a death sentence for some shit that went down with the neighbors’ chickens, and he was wanted in 3 other states for check forgery and chihuahua trafficking (this was not true, but I felt it gave him more street cred). He could not be a proud member of the Iowa State Bomb Detection Squad. Which is a shame because, believe it or not, a lot of people are trying to bomb Iowa. You just neve hear about it in the news because Iowa tries to keep that shit under wraps. Iowa isn’t known for much so they really don’t want the thing that sticks to be about how people are always trying to blow them up.

Think about it, how often do you hear about anything involving Iowa in the news? That is because of their superior PR efforts.

Actually, if Iowa should be known for anything, it should be their superior PR efforts. Because Iowa is never in the news.

the wiseass wife

Iowa, Come for the People, Stay for the PR

So Officer Ponytail asked if she could take Dog out and work with him anyways, just to get him out of his cage. I said “sure,” which I technically wasn’t supposed to do since Dog was now a ward of the state, but whatever. Fuck you state laws of Iowa. You have some shitty laws on your books. Of course no one even knows about them because of your great PR.

When Officer Ponytail came back from working with Dog, she told me that he tested better than most shelter dogs. Of course he did, because he’s a fucking perfect dog.

So off went Officer Ponytail with a few other dogs and I was left stewing about what a big meany-head jerk bag Judge Poopypants was (Those were my exact thoughts. Again, I was only 1o and my pristine mind had not yet been polluted with the swear words that now free-flow out of my mouth).

I later was lamenting to one of my employees, Derek, about how unfair it was that Dog had to be destroyed because I knew he wasn’t a chicken murderer and he could be off, protecting Iowans everywhere from the constant onslaught of bombs. Derek listened to me throw my 10-year-old temper tantrum and then said, “Well, you know, there is always the “Witness Protection Program”.

That’s a thing. Well, not an official thing. It is a secret underground thing. Derek said that, one time, another similar thing happened where a police department wanted a German Shepherd dog that had been ordered by a judge to be put down, and they just faked his death and then handed him over to the police department. So I was like, “HELL YES, WE ARE GOING TO FAKE DOG’S DEATH!!!”

Unfortunately, it did not take long for the animal control officer on the case (I will call him Officer Smugbastard) to hear rumors about our plans to fake Dog’s death. Officer Smugbastard did not work for our shelter, he was contracted from an outside agency and Dog’s case was in the area that his agency worked. Officer Smugbastard had the same personality as Buzz Lightyear, I’m not even kidding. But he wasn’t nearly as noble, so picture an egotistical, mean-spirited, crooked Buzz Lightyear.

the wiseass wife

As I was cursing this jerk-face, dorkheaded Officer Smugbastard, I tried to think of how we were going to get ourselves out of this little pickle and still get Dog off to the Iowa bomb squad. While I was mixing up a bottle of the solution that is used to put animals to sleep (euthanasia solution) and getting the tranquilizers prepared for the day’s euthanasias, it hit me. The euthanasia solution that we use in shelter-work comes in powder form with a small blue tablet in it. This tablet is simply a dye that is used to turn the euthanasia solution blue so that it is clearly marked as a dangerous substance. The powder is reconstituted with water, the tablet is dissolved, and then we have our blue euthanasia solution. What if I gave Dog a high dose of the tranquilizer, snipped off a bit of the dye tablet, mixed it with a little bit of the same kind of saline solution that is used for IV fluids, and injected Dog with this fake “euthanasia solution” in front of the officer?

And THEN I could set up a system of ropes and pulleys, with an anvil on the end, and when Officer Smugbastard walks in to the room to watch Dog die, the anvil will drop on his head! (I was watching a lot of Saturday morning cartoons back then)

I spoke with Derek and we decided to move forward with the fake euthanasia solution idea, and decided against the anvil idea. That was largely Derek’s idea. We called Officer Ponytail and told her the plan and she was fully on board.

I called Officer Smugbastard and told him to be at the shelter at 6pm to witness Dog’s euthanasia. His supervisor, Officer Cruella de Witch, had ordered him to take a picture of Dog after he was put down, to prove that he was dead.

A few minutes before 6pm, we led Dog into the euthanasia room and gave him the tranquilizer. After we knocked him out, we brought Officer Smugbastard in and told him that Dog was just so mean and aggressive that we had to sedate him in order to get anywhere near him. Officer Smugbastard nodded like he knew what we were talking about. Obviously this smug bastard….I mean Officer Smugbastard….had never spent a SECOND with Dog and didn’t get a chance to experience his pure awesome-ness.

We began injecting the fake euthanasia solution and Officer Smugbastard snapped a picture. Once it was over we quickly moved Officer Smugbastard out of the euthanasia room so he didn’t see that Dog was actually still breathing. As soon as he was gone I called Officer Ponytail on her cell phone. Wait, shit, it was the 80s. I must have given her a walkie talkie ahead of time and then just beeped her on that. Yeah. That’s what happened.

Officer Ponytail and one of her colleagues pulled up in their truck and backed it up to the euthansia room door. We wrapped a still-groggy Dog in a blanket and stuck  him in the back of the covered truck bed. With a kiss and a hug goodbye, Dog was off into the night, to learn how to protect Iowans everywhere.

As for me, I kept a copy of Dog’s shelter records and still let out a devious laugh every time I look at the bottom of that paperwork, where the big, red, stamped letters say “EUTHANIZED.”

Serious note: Dog’s companions did lose their lives due to crappy owners and lack of training. Please remember that a commitment to a dog is a lifelong commitment and that means teaching your dogs how to behave. Training is vital, even if you just take them through basic obedience. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow and your dog ends up at the shelter, will he or she pass their temperment evaluation?


3 thoughts on “How I Snuck a Dog Off of Death Row: With Apologies to Iowa

  1. Pingback: 5 Year Adoption Anniversary Part 1: Where Olive the Renegade Dog is Saved From a Hoarder and Promptly Thrown Into a Wall;With Thanks to the Marin and Arizona Humane Societies | The Wiseass Wife

  2. Pingback: 5 Year Adoption Anniversary Part 1: Where Olive the Renegade Dog is Saved From a Hoarder and Promptly Thrown Into a Wall;With Thanks to the Marin and Southern Arizona Humane Societies | The Wiseass Wife

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