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Pets in America

Aired April 27, 2014 - 22:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next time my father will make you drive the tractor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're pulling me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emergency, can I help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be there as soon as I can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I'm saving these dogs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are the fishing nets for?


MORGAN SPURLOCK, CNN HOST: Every vision you have of a dogcatcher, like here I am?


SPURLOCK: I gotcha! Gotcha!

In most American households, it's a rite of passage to get your first pet. It helps teach us responsibility, they're your best friends and members of our families. As Americans, we spend more than $60 billion a year on our pets, whether that be on the perfect pure bred puppy or a hypoallergenic designer breed or one of these adorable guys. Most of these guys will likely find a good loving home. What about the millions of dogs every year who aren't so lucky?

Each year about seven million cats and dogs end up in settlers across the United States, like this one, the animal rescue league of burkes county in Redding, Pennsylvania. So why are there so many homeless animals? And what happens to them once they're in a shelter. Most of us don't want to think about it. But this week I'm going to work at the ARL and find out.

Hi, how are you?



SPURLOCK: I'm your new volunteer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got a job for you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready for your tour?

SPURLOCK: I am. The ARL was founded in 1952.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have 18 kennels up here.

SPURLOCK: Just about 30 employees care between 9,000 and 10,000 animals every year. That's more than 200 a day on average.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is the adoption cats.

SPURLOCK: About 100 cats, 70 dogs. Is that a puppy?


SPURLOCK: And 30 to 40 craters of fame animals.

There's a chicken in there. I'm going to take 15 pets home if w me this week. My landlord will kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to work with Jamie who is out team leader.

SPURLOCK: Hi, how are you? Good to see you? What do we do first?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to check the dogs in that were left in our stray building.


There's three ways animals come into the ARL. Either picked up on the streets, dropped off at the front desk or left in the stray building. The stray building is a 24-hour drop off site where people can bring animals after business hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's paperwork for them to fill out. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

SPURLOCK: And every morning, shelter workers find a new group of freshly abandoned animals, all of them needing temporary homes and care at the shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our cages were fill so they decided to put the puppy in the cat cage.

SPURLOCK: Can I pick the puppy up?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. SPURLOCK: Am I carrying her OK like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Might want to support her bottom a little bit so she doesn't feel so afraid.

SPURLOCK: Each animal is checked into the shelter and state law requires that each one is held for at least 48 hours in case someone is looking for her.

Do you name them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we should name her Lucy.

SPURLOCK: Lucy. I like that. It is good name.

Is she a stray?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Actually, they leave a note for here so I believe the owner came last night and they don't want to face people so they just kind of leave them in the stray building and that's what we find in the morning. Would be either the dog had a haler of puppies and they can't find them homes. She's sweet.

SPURLOCK: That's a good place for that. There's a drain right there.

So what's next for Lucy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, actually this morning, we're full, every cage is full. Hopefully we do some adoptions, open up some cages. Every day is different and you just don't know what you're going to get in and what's going to go out.

SPURLOCK: The ARL is an open admission shelter, which means it doesn't turn away any animal for any reason, regardless of medical or behavioral problems. They try to make room for everyone. But that can lead to serious shelter overcrowding. And that forces them to euthanize many unhealthy, aggressive, or unadoptable animals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try our best to not have to euthanize to make room. It just depends on the amount of incoming animals.

SPURLOCK: Right. It's got to be hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These become our pets.

SPURLOCK: Next one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's going to bring in -- that one just came in through the front door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The neighbor left the dog behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: his owners moved to North Carolina.

SPURLOCK: Just left the dog at the house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the neighbor said.

SPURLOCK: Who moves and just leaves a dog? Like who moves and just leave the dog? Yes, just leave -- they slept in the backyard or what? Dog is so scared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Male, not neutered.

SPURLOCK: We should name this dog Petey. Reminds me of Petey from little rascals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Probably about seven or eight.

SPURLOCK: A dog like this, how hard is it going to be to get him adopted?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty difficult. Having 15, 20 other pit bulls on the floor that are young and can't find homes for those dogs.

SPURLOCK: It's estimated that pit bulls account for more than 30 percent of dogs admitted into animal shelters and make up more than 60 percent of the dogs that are put down. Puppies have a decent shot, but a full grown pit can be very tough to be adopted.

So now, the dog is in here, how long will he be here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, a lot of people think they have a certain am of time, we'll get a month. It's not like that. We'll hold on to these animals as long as we have space and as long as their behavior stays good. It could change.

SPURLOCK: Right. In a place like this, it would probably drive you crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Even with going out for walks, you figure they're in a kennel 22 out of 24 hours a day.

SPURLOCK: The kennel can be a noisy, stressful place to be locked up. Just being there can actually make a dog more aggressive or as shelter workers call it, kennel crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to hurt your teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll let the last one out. He's a big pit bull, male not neutered. He's been growling at everybody. He hasn't really been OK. Come here. So we're just going to go slow with him. Good boy.

SPURLOCK: He's a pit bull?


SPURLOCK: And that was no note?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Probably owner left him.

SPURLOCK: He likes you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, a lot of times they like the people who get them out of the stray room. I don't 100 percent trust him just because of how he was when he was in. But he's being OK.

You want to go in your cage? Come on.

SPURLOCK: The new animals are vaccinated. After that, they'll get a temperament evaluation to see if they're ready for adoption.

What do you think will happen to this dog?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it depends again on the evaluation, how he does. You have high hopes for all of them for the most part. But we do what we can.

SPURLOCK: It's hard, man. Seeing these beautiful dogs. The strays, I can understand. Like this puppy who just somebody found on the street. This is a dog that just got lost. But then there's, like, these other dogs that people just left behind which is insane to me. I mean, I just can't believe it. And some of these dogs won't get adopted.




SPURLOCK (voice-over): The goal of any shelter is to find good homes for its adoptable animals and this week I'm going to do whatever I can to help make that happen at the ARL.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our website.

SPURLOCK: Hello, I'm pepper. Do you have the time to give this sweet girl a home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to add one?

SPURLOCK: I do. Lucy, 5-month-old black lab mix is guaranteed to melt your heart. Next thing you know, you're going to go home with somebody.

As a healthy puppy, Lucy is safely on the adoptables list, but the two pits we checked in earlier today will need to be evaluated to determine if they're adoptable.

Trying to get a sense of him. He's already a little growly. He's not even making the effort to kind of smell me or sniff me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Morgan, I want you to meet Missy. She's our temperament evaluator. SPURLOCK: Hey, how are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, nice to meet you.

SPURLOCK: Nice to meet you. Missy Keilar (ph) has been working with dogs for more than 20 year. Who is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She came in as a stray. She's a beagle, she's got the found personality where she's very food oriented. She is very food oriented. She's like yes, yes. But again, it's not something that puts her as being unadoptable. She is an adoptable dog.

SPURLOCK: How hard is it for you in this little bit of time to tell the dog's personality?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very difficult. It's not like it's a blanket assess assessment. You've got to really work with them in order to find out what you need to find out about them.

SPURLOCK: Next up for evaluation is the large gray pit showing signs of aggression.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I'm handling a dog that's potentially aggressive, I don't want to challenge him. I want him to feel comfortable with me.

SPURLOCK: And what are you looking for in these evaluations?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'm I looking is adoptability in the dog.

Hi, big guy. Hello.

I'm especially looking for aggression, whether it be human aggression, dog aggression, resource, guarding type of things. I'm also just kind of keeping an eye on his general body condition.

SPURLOCK: Like this wears on his arms?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The wear on his arms, looks more like a scar.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I see pressure sores back here. That tells me he's probably been crated a lot. It tells me in general this dog has not been well cared for.

Good boy, good boy. Do you see how when I touch him, he starts to lick his lips. He's uncomfortable.

SPURLOCK: Why do they do that when they are uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's just their calming techniques. I wouldn't be surprised if this guy had very little interaction.

SPURLOCK: With people? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With people or in a home environment. And I would personally not feel comfortable making him available for adoption. If I had an ounce of doubt in that dog, I won't put it out on the adoption floor because all it takes is that wrong situation for that dog and that dog to bite somebody and I can't take that back.

All right, well, we'll put you back so that way you're not so stressed. Good boy. Good boy.

SPURLOCK: After his 48-hour hold is up, Missy will discuss his evaluation with the ARL staff and together they'll make a decision about this dog's future.

After all her years of doing this, she can tell if there's a potential for a problem. And that's the thing, you have to be able to say, even the chance of a problem is a problem. Even when someone can be found who agrees to adopt a potentially aggressive dog at shelter, things don't always end well for the animal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here to have her euthanized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got her, they tied her to the pool. And she bit somebody.

SPURLOCK: How long have you had her now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little over three months. For some reason, she took a bond to me but with everybody else. And they all say it's best that we put her down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you would like to take her over into the corner and have a seat.

Imagine how hard that is. You adopt the dog thinking you're going to be able to help it, thinking you ear doing the right thing. And then three or four months later, the dog gets worst. And now this poor guy is in a situation of having to put it down. That's terrible. I can't even imagine.

Shelter dogs need a break whenever they can get it. So every night I'm fostering a different adoptable animal.

You come here. You come here. You come to pa.

Tonight, I'm going to start with an easy one, Lucy the puppy.

This is my first day at the animal rescue league was equal parts fun and exciting and depressing. And just think about that volume of animals that are coming through there, how do you keep up with that? Every day they're having to put dogs to sleep just because nobody wants them.

Lucy, we're home.

Of course, this little fur ball didn't come with too much baggage, which is one reason puppies are so much easier to adopt. Here's your dinner. Sew look, I'll show you. Let me have some. You should have some more of that.

You are such a sweet dog.

Day two at the shelter, and today, Missy is taking a look at Petey, the second pit bull that needs an evaluation.


SPURLOCK: This is the one the family moved to North Carolina and just left the dog, left him behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not uncommon which I have a hard time comprehending it. If we wouldn't have going out and got him or --

SPURLOCK: Neighbor brought it in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it would have starved to death and we've seen that, too.

SPURLOCK: So when you at these guys, what do you see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I see someone that's really, really frightened right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good boy. I like that he's responsive. His eyes are big and wide, and he's nervous.

SPURLOCK: He's shaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is frightened.

SPURLOCK: A fearful dog can quickly become an aggressive dog. An aggressive behavior would make Petey unadoptable.


SPURLOCK: So Missy needs to check for other forms of aggression to complete her assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's ready to go outside.

SPURLOCK: What we're going to do now is the next step in his evaluation, see how he does with other dogs.

Jamie is going to be bringing out another dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She is going to bringing a Siberian. He's a tough dog.

SPURLOCK: A Siberian?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But I need to see if he is going to be with other dogs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he is making the initial is aggressive behaviors, that puts up that big red flag to me and makes it harder to put him up for adoption.

SPURLOCK: Now, here comes the husky.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that? What is that? And Petey is definitely -- no. And out of that interaction, Petey was trying to initiate play, but the husky immediately took it to the next level of being the more dominant, aggressive type of dog. But he's doing good.

SPURLOCK: Petey passed the dog aggression test but he's still showing signs of being fearful. And that's a cause for concern for Missy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's put it this way. He's not out of the woods yet. If I get 20 dogs in tonight, he would be one of the dogs that would be on the list of having to make the extra room. Because he's not at this point in the game 100 percent adoptable.

SPURLOCK: When the overcrowded shelter is forced to make space for incoming animals, they turn to the gray list, a list of potentially aggressive animals, sick animals, or ones with real behavioral problems. If they do have to euthanize to make space, these are the ones that go first.

So right now, he would be on the gray list?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would be on that gray list, yes. It could go either way for him. So we do have a program call canned eternal companions that we have a group of volunteers that will come in and work with dogs like this. That one-on-one interaction can sometimes get them over this hump. It can make a big difference.

SPURLOCK: Maybe this week I can be his kennel companion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. That would be fantastic.

SPURLOCK: Then every day I'll take him out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day you can take him out and I'll be double checking him to make sure that, you know, he's going in the direction you need him going.

SPURLOCK: Oh, my gosh, you're outside!

He's taking me for a drag.

It's my first time as a kennel companion, but I'm hoping I can spend enough time with Petey to make a difference and keep him safe.



SPURLOCK (voice-over): We all know how much work it can be caring for one animal. Well, these guys are carrying for up to 200 at a time.

Hey, good morning.


SPURLOCK: How are you? Good to see you?


SPURLOCK: What am I doing today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today we're cleaning the kennels.


How thorough do I need to be? Just scoop up the big chunks?


SPURLOCK: Then hose out the rest?


SPURLOCK: Oh, that's a fresh one. So, what you can't really appreciate at home is just the rich, deep aroma that's coming out of here.

At the animal rescue, the shelter workers clean every kennel every day and give each animal fresh water, food and clean blankets.

They also get two toys they can put on their beds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like candy on your pillow at your hotel room.

SPURLOCK: That's right. Hi, puppy. Hi, Petey.

I heard that Petey seems to be improving and I'm excited to keep working with him.

I'll be back.

But today, I'm taking a quick break from the shelter just to see how the other half lives. And by the other half, I mean those wonderful dogs that not only get to be adopted and get in wonderful homes, but get to live lives probably a little better than you or I do.


SPURLOCK: Hi, how are you? I'm Morgan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. This is Rose Anne Bellasmy (ph).

SPURLOCK: Hi, Rose Anne.


SPURLOCK: Nice to meet you.

Rose Anne Bellasmy (ph) has had her pure bred Maltese (INAUDIBLE) for two years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is my husband, Walter Bellasmy (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my daughter.

SPURLOCK: That's your daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the daughter we never had. We had two sons. My son says there are less pictures of us around here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's part of the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like to hold her?

SPURLOCK: Of course, please.


SPURLOCK: You smell so clean. You don't smell like any of the dogs I've been working with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Bella Mia's room.

SPURLOCK: She has her own room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. And this is her closet.

SPURLOCK: Wow. That's a lot of clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you see all custom designed just for here. Formal wear, casual wear, jewelry, hats, hats, hats.

SPURLOCK: And how much like a dress like that? How much was like that cost?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe this one is $1,000. It's a lot, but she's also donated a lot of money, too.

SPURLOCK: Yes. Well, Bella Mia may not know how good she has it, Roseanne does. They so together, they participate in charity events in fancy dress fundraisers to raise money for shelter dogs and animal welfare organizations.

Maria, do you do other dogs or is Bella it?


SPURLOCK: Only Bella. You see that she end up coming from a shelter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She did not. My friend got her from a breeder. Having done it again, I think I would have gotten a rescue. But I did have an awareness of that at that point.

SPURLOCK: Yes. All I know in a previous life that dog saved a school bus full of kids or something, because she's got a life.

Now that Roseanne knows about the homeless animal problem, she's banded together with other dog owners who are passionate about rescues and helping to change the perception of shelter animals.

I don't have a daughter so this my first tea party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All three of my dogs here are rescues.

SPURLOCK: This dog was a rescue?


SPURLOCK: How do you change people's mindset. I feel like people go to a shelter and they look at something is wrong with these animals. How do you change about how people look at shelters?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not what we do with the dogs, it's how do we deal with the people? You have to educate people.

SPURLOCK: And then are right organization are trying to educate people about the often unknown issue of puppy mills.

The humane society estimates that every year, two million dogs sold nationwide are produces by Puppy Mills sold in pet stores, online or directly to the public and can sell for more than a thousand dollars apiece.

But most people wouldn't buy them. Every year approximately 2 million dogs sold nationwide are produce by puppy mills, stored online, puppy stores or directly to the public and can sell for more than $1,000 a piece.

But most people wouldn't buy them if they had a glimpse of where they come from. Animal rescue organizations have discovered mills housing up to 1,000 dogs in deplorable conditions. Stacked on top of one another, given dirty waters and covered in to feces. These animals never see the light today. And they have virtually no human contact in their lives except when their puppies are taken away from them.

And what is difficult to tell which pet stores buy for Puppy Mills and which don't, why would anyone but one of these dogs with so many adoptable ones are waiting from shelters.

It's hard to say. But like anything else, animals are subject to trends. When a breed becomes popular, everyone wants one of those dogs. Think of Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, bull terriers, and not so long ago, pit bulls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to go on a pick up.

SPURLOCK: When that breed's moment fades, the animals are abandoned and shelters like the ARL are called to pick them up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to take my dogs to the backyard and she was there eating from the garbage.


SPURLOCK: So how many years have you been at the shelter now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four and a half now.

SPURLOCK: Four and a half.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I only wanted to work with cats. The dogs intimidated me. But then when I wanted to go full time, that was the position that was open. But I love it. I feel like I'm saving these dogs.

It's OK. Good boy. Good boy.

So where we're going to go right now, the garage is called Carlito's Way. Here it is.

SPURLOCK: Carlito's Way. Auto sound and security.

Hey, man. Here you have a cat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This little one right here.

SPURLOCK: Oh, my gosh, that is a baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were working on a car outside and he hears something crying. He's inside of the car.

SPURLOCK: How old is that cat do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably only five, six days old.

Well, you can't see from in there. He's too cold. You have to hold him. A little burrito. A kitty burrito.

SPURLOCK: Bye-bye. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course his name has to be Carlito. And you're taking him with right?

SPURLOCK: Of course, I am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has to eat every two hours.

SPURLOCK: Every two hours?


SPURLOCK: So do I. I eat every two hours as well. It is going to be perfect.

The never ending stream of animals being brought in to the shelter can be overwhelming. Overcrowding at the shelter is the direct result of animal overpopulation. Think of it like this. Just one dog can have up to 16 puppies in a year. And can have puppies for eight years. That's 128 puppies. A cat can have up to 24 kittens in a year. If that cat lives 10 years it can give birth to 240 kittens. And if their offspring reproduces, that's thousands of cats and dogs, every one of them in need of a home.

SPURLOCK: Hi, Amber. This is Carlito.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever he's crying --

SPURLOCK: Give him a 40?


SPURLOCK: OK, come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go. You're a good eater already.

W SPURLOCK: hat are his chances of survival?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they're that little, it's hit or miss. I mean, I honestly can't even tell you if he'll make it through the night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you get him home, you can bathe him. Make sure he's warm and --

SPURLOCK: And then just feed him this all night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good luck, sir. Have a good night.

SPURLOCK: Thanks, have a good night.

How is your tummy? Let me check that out. You have a flea right there. Got that guy. Let's get you nice and warm now.

I want you to just think about how many millions of animals don't have homes and people are still going and spending thousands of dollars on designer whatever, cats, dogs, you name it, when somebody like that could go home with you.




SPURLOCK: Good morning. He made it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good stuff. Did he go to the bathroom for you? SPURLOCK: Yes.


SPURLOCK: Most of the dirt got washed out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're all clean. What do you think, little man?

SPURLOCK: So what's going to happen to Carlito now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to try to find someone to foster him.



SPURLOCK: Yes, thanks.


SPURLOCK: Thank you.

Who's working in the chair now? Are you're the boss?

The big green bean jumping in puddles. Go away, dog. That sounds like a perfect one for a cat. Hey, guys. I'm going to tell you guys a story. Come here.

Go away you bad old dog. Go away from me. Go away with your stick. See look, he's throwing the stick. Hi, kitty, kitty.


SPURLOCK: I have been working with Petey every day, trying to get him out of the kennel and into the fresh air for a little play. He's getting better, but Missy still hasn't put him on the adoptables list.


SPURLOCK: He's doing great. So what else can I do the next if few days?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ball is in his court. It's up to him to start opening up and initiating play with you.

SPURLOCK: It's all about trust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. You are building a trust, exactly what you are doing because we don't know what he's been through.

SPURLOCK: Right. Good boy.

I'm hoping my work with Petey can help him open up and become adoptable. But in the meantime, I'm going to try to help one of the other adoptable dogs find a forever home.

So, do you know what kind of dog you're looking for?


SPURLOCK: Look at that big boy. He's a super sweet dog. Also a very sweet dog. I will show you my favorite pit that's in here right now is this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Yes, is that the one? Yes? Awesome.

SPURLOCK: So this is the wall of fame. These are photos of some of the pets and their forever homes. Look at that pit puppy sleeping with that little girl. You're adopting wonky? That's fantastic. Did you see wonky on the Web site? Wonky has been on there for a while. That's good.

Here's your mommy. Have a great night. Bye-bye.

Any type of particular dog you're looking for?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would take a puppy.

SPURLOCK: We've got marquee, we've got gunner. This is Lucy.


SPURLOCK: Yes. Lucy is about 5 months old.


SPURLOCK: I fostered Lucy the other night and she's a great dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is adorable. Can I look at her?

SPURLOCK: Of course you can. Show time. Meet Mary Beth.


SPURLOCK: You found a winner?


SPURLOCK: Say, this is Mary Beth and she would like to adopt Lucy. I'm getting a little emotional. That's my little puppy getting ready to go home with somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we're going to do is schedule for surgery tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. SPURLOCK: The ARL and most responsible adoption organizations require that all newly adopted animals are spayed or neutered before the day they're taken home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll see you in a day.

SPURLOCK: For Lucy, that's just a quick surgery with a short recovery. Then she'll be able to go home for good.

Very soon, pretty girl. I know, very soon. Very soon. You be a good girl.

So I'm going to go check in on the gray pit bull. It's been the 48- hour waiting period. And so now is when Jamie anticipate misty will make the decision as to whether or not to put him down.

What's the plan with the gray pit then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His 48-hour hold is up today. Of course, our kennel space is tight. So I think at this point, we're in grievance that we're going to have to euthanize him today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's too much of a liability, I believe. I don't think he'll be safe on the floor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this room here is what we refer to as her sleep room. Put it to that since we're going to be in here.

SPURLOCK: OK. How are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately it's something I've done many times. You know, even when the dog is aggressive or just, you know, plain not nice, I still feel horrible. Because it's not a his fault. I don't know his past and why he acts the way he does. But, you know, when you have nowhere to go with an animal and there's no rescue that will take it, you know, it's dangerous to put in a home, what do you do with it?

SPURLOCK: Yes. What do you do?


SPURLOCK: How does that affect you and having to work here and be here all the time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me question. Myself. I don't want to make that call. It's hard.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK. It's all right.

SPURLOCK: I am so nervous and just, my heart is racing. I can't imagine being somebody who does this day in and day out. Every day you have to make that call. Every day you have to make that call and then every day you have to be the person who, you know, actually puts that animal down, euthanizes it.


SPURLOCK: It's got to take such an emotional toll on you over time. Can't fathom the baggage that comes with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's actually really, really fast. He's going to start to relax. I'm sorry. You're a good boy. You're a good boy.

SPURLOCK: And that's it?


SPURLOCK: That's so fast.


SPURLOCK: You know, that dog is, you know, one of thousands of dogs that they have to euthanize every single year. This is one day. This is today. It's terrible.

Now at the end of the day, I'm taking the wagon out to the incinerator where all the animals will be staged until they actually can burn them all.

The question is, what's going to happen now to the other dogs? What's going to happen to Petey the pit if things don't work out? Even if it just gets to a place where they're full, a dog like Petey is one of those that's on the gray list or on the fringe of, who do you give that space to?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm calling about the dog that you have in your basement.

SPURLOCK (voice-over): It's another day at the Animal Rescue League shelter in Redding, Pennsylvania, and the constant stream of animals means it's another day at full capacity and Petey is still on the gray list.

Let's go, buddy.

So what do you think should be done about the whole overpopulation problem?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, people coming to shelters and adopting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People spaying and neutering is huge. There is a lot of people and, you know, I'll say to them, do you see all these animals that are homeless? Some people still don't get it. You tell them, you know, we euthanize here. And you are going bread puppies and puppies are going to end up being here in a year or two when they're too big. And families that you think that are great don't want them anymore. It's a cycle.

SPURLOCK: You have to educate people.



Lucy is going home tomorrow, so today she's having her surgery. And I'm going to see it up close and personal.


SPURLOCK: I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's under general anesthesia. She's not going to feel any pain.

When we spay a dog, we want to take out the uterus and ovary on either side.

SPURLOCK: So, why do you think this is so important for animals?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have too many animals and not enough homes. So unfortunately some will eventually have to be put to sleep because they don't have a good home. I think it's very important they get spayed and neutered.

SPURLOCK: How painful is the recovery process for a dog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So a puppy this size, if you come back tomorrow, it is going to be running around like nothing happened.

SPURLOCK: So from start to finish, from the time we were out of here, this whole surgery, barely 20 minutes. Not even. It's incredible.

But a simple step like that could save countless animals from winding up in a shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to see a neuter?

SPURLOCK: Neuter, I'm all right. I'm good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's up to you.

SPURLOCK: Yes. I can honestly say I don't need to see that.

Back in the kennels, Missy has good news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our kennels are full, as you can see. So I'm going to call one of our shelters that come and take dogs from us.

SPURLOCK: Every once in a while, no-kill shelters were able to lend a helping hand to the open admission shelters like the ARL. Today they're getting help from a humane league, a nearby no-kill shelter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It opens up space here for me to bring more dogs. And the dogs that are going to be pulled from here are going to be safe and I don't have to worry about them. So it does help.

SPURLOCK: That's a great looking dog.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she's beautiful.

SPURLOCK: I'm with the guys from the humane league her here, looking at the dogs, assessing which dogs they think they can take back to their shelter. Their shelters have less dogs. So the turnover there is much higher. So whatever dogs they take, the chance of them getting adopted even within in the next five or six days is very high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at that face. You know, and this is the hard part because so many of them would do very well at our shelter, but we only have room for so many.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's such a sweet girl.


SPURLOCK: She is such a big girl.

Freedom! That dog is so excited to be out.

Humane league took three dogs off the ARL's hands. It may not sound like much, but it's three more open spaces for dogs that might not have a shot anywhere else.



SPURLOCK: It's my final day at the animal rescue league. Today, my big goal is to get Petey on the adoption list and best of all, Lucy is going home today. She had her surgery yesterday and her mom is going to come pick her up. Lucy! Look how excited you are. She's bouncing around. She's just a puppy again, just like the doctor said.

Come on, I know you're going home, you're going home. Look at that face. Look how excited she is.

There's your mommy.

Hi, pretty. She's ready to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a cutie pie. I found a good one.

SPURLOCK: You did.


SPURLOCK: She's got a good home.

It's been amazing to see the changes in Petey in the short time I've been working with him.

Do you want to go in here and run a little bit. I just hope it's enough to get him off the gray list and on to the ado adoptables list.

Good boy. Good boy.

It's a really good sign that he's coming over to me, that he wants attention. He wants to be petted. He's getting positive affirmations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really pleased with where he's at and where he's coming along. You can see a big difference on how he was when he first came in to where he's at now.

SPURLOCK: Yes, big difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. So he can now be made available for adoption.

SPURLOCK: That's great. That's fantastic. Look at that. What do you think about that, buddy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Makes you feel good when you're looking at a dog and you made it turn the corner and come back around.

SPURLOCK: Come on, buddy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll give you the honors.

SPURLOCK: That's very exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That means that they'll know he's available.

SPURLOCK: Good job, Petey. Be a good boy.

After spending a week here, I have a new respect for these shelter workers. It's impossible not to attach to these animals, even knowing you might have to put some of them down just to make room for even more animals that need home.

When I was a kid, all I ever wanted was a Rhodesian ridgeback. I would show my mama pictures. Here is like breeders and how much they cost. And my mom and dad would say we have two perfectly good dogs that we got from the shelter. And I would tell myself when I'm an adult and I can afford ,y own dog, I'm going to buy one of those.

But now after being here and seeing all the dogs that are just here looking for a home, I don't know why I would ever go get a dog from a breeder. Why would I ever go to a pet store. Shouldn't we first rescue the animals that truly need a home? Then we can actually start to make a difference. He's going to be bathroom. The dog is still paying. -- peeing. This is the greatest day ever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was the last time they let you out are you kidding?

SPURLOCK: He is still peeing. That's why he's fighting people. They never let him go to a bathroom. There, he is done.


SPURLOCK: Good boy.