A special trip to Sanctuary!

August 21, 2017

Earlier this month, a very special dog made a very special trip to a very special place. Here, we share Ehu’s journey with you!


Ehu originally came to Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) last August from a partner shelter with a high euthanasia rate and limited space and adopters for large dogs. Ehu quickly became a favorite of staff and volunteers at KHS, but kept being passed over by adopters. As weeks and months passed, Ehu became increasingly stressed being in the kennel environment. He stopped eating, showed increasing frustration towards visitors, and reactivity towards smaller dogs. We worked to keep him happy and healthy by giving him breaks in foster care, and letting him spend his days in the admin offices, but he was still declining. He exhibited a lot of anxiety, and one point he even scaled the play yard fence to go after a small dog being walked by. Luckily he was adopted in early November, and seemed to settle well into his new home. But as months passed, his reactive and anxiety towards smaller animals made him difficult to control. While in his adoptive home two incidents with small dogs occurred, and during one of them, a human was bitten.


Ehu was returned to KHS on July 30th, and immediately showed signs of anxiety and stress being back. Back at KHS, Ehu has stopped eating, and his quality of life and mental health  deteriorated quickly, despite extra enrichment and intervention by his staff and volunteer friends. Due to his history of aggression to small dogs, bites to humans, and lack of quality of life in the kennel, the Animal Welfare Committee at KHS made the very, very difficult decision to consider euthanasia if sanctuary could not be found…


Unfortunately there are many disreputable animal sanctuaries, and most of the reputable sanctuaries are very full and have long waiting lists. We knew that the chances of getting Ehu into an appropriate sanctuary was slim, but we had to try. With the right management, Ehu was amazing with people, and with dogs his size or  bigger he was playful and appropriate. We didn’t think he was safe to place in our community, but we weren’t ready to give up. So our Rescue Me and Behavior and Training departments got to work completing a rigorous intake application, including submitting a variety of videos of Ehu in various settings and tests to one of the best animal sanctuaries in the nation- Best Friends Animal Society!


After an anxious week of waiting, we got word that Best Friends had agreed to take Ehu into their sanctuary in Utah! Ehu was still doing very poorly at KHS, so time was of the essence. To try to hold him together until he could go to Best Friends, staff and volunteers worked together to give Ehu as much enrichment and support as possible. In order to reduce his stress, Ehu got special housing – a secure outdoor kennel during the day and a private kennel in the Training Center at the end of the property at night. He got lots of “scent enrichment” and play dates multiple times a day with dog friends. In order to make the trip possible, we needed our community’s support to cover these unexpected travel and staffing costs. Thanks to 30 amazing donors, $2500 was raised in less than 24 hours to cover the trip.


Finally the day came for Ehu to leave on his 20 hour drive to Sanctuary! Ehu was accompanied by Behavior & Training Coordinator and another staff advocate. Ehu was a perfect travel companion – he handled the long stretches of the drive really well in his crate, surrounded by his fluffy blankies and buffet of toys and treats. And he REALLY loved the breaks along the way- no matter the time of day or the terrain, he was happy to hang out and lounge around as his companions rested up. Probably his favorite part of the trip was getting to stay at a hotel for a much needed night’s rest! He gave their sheets and pillows two paws up!


After a long, hot trip (Utah in August is intense!) Ehu and his friends arrived at Best Friends. The amazing staff there got busy right away getting him settled in and processed. After an initial intake quarantine and assessment period, Ehu will be paired with some appropriate dog friends and get to live his life out at Dog Town. We are SO thrilled and grateful that Best Friends was able to give Ehu this amazing opportunity. Partnerships with other animal welfare organizations like Best Friends and support from our community enable us to do our important lifesaving work. Thank you to everyone who helped give Ehu’s story a very special happy ending!