October 13, 2013: Bandit has been home now for just about five months since her release from Sacramento County Animal Care & Control (California). Have a listen to the video of Patricia Workman’s interview with Sandi York and her baby, Bandit. Click on the above image or go here: http://youtu.be/SOActSy0X08
I personally had the opportunity to meet up with Sandi a few times since Bandit’s release and each and every time, I’m amazed at what a lovely and sweet lady Sandi is and what an incredibly special dog Bandit is – they truly are meant for one another. I see now what it is that kept Bandit alive and sane for the over three years she was kept at the shelter – mind you, in a cell block where they keep all the other dogs deemed ‘vicious’ and ‘dangerous’. More often than not, a dog that is isolated such as these dogs, including Bandit, basically does eventually go nuts even after just a few months. Dogs need human contact just like we humans do. Yet, the people who are deeming these poor dogs dangerous with as little as sending in a ‘green’ and uneducated, untrained employee to conduct an evaluation is all that is needed to doom these poor souls to a sentence of death. That is exactly what occurred in the case of Bandit.
Bandit’s evaluation — performed by an untrained shelter employee — is what sealed Bandit’s fate. So, when the time came weeks after the incident, for her evaluation hearing (aka destruction hearing), it was pointed out that based on this particular evaluation, Bandit was unapproachable due to her body language and growls. What I later learned was that the employee never entered Bandit’s enclosure and so there was no way an assessment could have been conducted either way. The person doing the assessment did not know how to approach a dog that has been isolated and removed from her familiar surroundings, he did not know how to gain her trust, he did not know how to read her. Bandit was missing Sandi and her home something awful and she didn’t understand what was happening. In Bandit’s case, she recently had detached retina in both eyes and could not see anyone who approached her kennel. Bandit was scared and fearful.
I don’t want to dig up the past — my point being that a dog will behave in a particular way based on its circumstances, including its health, as well as the other triggers that we as humans so often mistake as aggressive behavior. There are so many dogs in that very shelter today who through no fault of their own have ended up there due to similar situations as Bandit.
Bandit was granted a professional behavior evaluation by a seasoned dog trainer with years of experience and certifications. It was learned during that assessment that Bandit was not vicious or dangerous. All it took was that – permission to receive an assessment by a professional. That is why Bandit is free today!
Bandit had many loyal supporters during our struggle to bring Bandit back home and we needed your support each and every single day Bandit was not home. On the flip side, and to be honest, there were many who believed Bandit was vicious and dangerous as deemed based on the stories that were being retold over and over again.
Why? Because people believe what they hear — it’s the herd mentality. The fox was guarding the henhouse and telling us what they’d like us to believe. And many believed what they were told via email, letters, phone conversations. Even people in the dog advocacy world called me to tell me I should give up that it was a losing battle — they had given up in just one short conversation! They didn’t see all the discrepancies that I saw nor were they willing (or capable) to entertain the thought that perhaps the system failed both Sandi and Bandit. Sandi and I became a team and fought. We would have fought until Bandit’s dying breath — neither of us was going to give up. We both would have been there together and it would have been the saddest day of our lives, and everyone else’s. Instead we fought the system and won Bandit her life and freedom.
Please, as Sandi says, ‘Never give up’ on your dog. Period. We owe it to them.