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Dog's best buddy

Bruiser, a rottweiler-mix pup, was found stumbling through an alley, dragging a heavy chain. He had mange and heart worms. Winston the cattle dog was forsaken as well, running lonely through Oak Cliff. How about a smiley little shih tzu with one eye, or a fuzzy poodle with diabetes? Snoopy the tricolored hound has sat in a cage for four years. And countless mom cats are unwittingly saddled with a spring bounty of baby cats. They're all caged too. We gotta get these critters some decent humans.

Acts of good will come easily to some people all year long. Others wait for Christmas. Still others wait for the annual Pet Adoptathon. Strange that it takes a promotional battering to remind everyone that animals are great to have around.

From May 1 through May 3, Operation Kindness, the SPCA, and a handful of city pounds participate in a nationwide campaign to find homes for their tenants. These aren't the pedigreed privileged that win trophies at dog shows or the manicured kitties that sell for $500 a pop. These animals fill the cages of shelters like countless orphans: lost, eager, and alone. "Underdog" is an understatement.

This massive effort includes more than 1,000 adoption centers across the United States, so the weekend comes off like national holiday for animals. Thousands of them will be sprung from jail in a 72-hour period. Operation Kindness, the only local shelter with a "no-kill" philosophy (they keep an animal until they find it a home, even if that means months or years), has had stunning success with the yearly event. Last year, O.K.'s extended hours, workshops, and information booths drew a steady stream of animal lovers, and by the end of the marathon, more than 100 animals had found new owners. The SPCA, Dallas' big, clean, well-organized shelter downtown (which nobly specializes in rescue), joins the effort with extended hours and their usual impressive selection of pooches and cats. Granted, some of the critters are big, awkward, not housebroken, or "special-needs" cases (like the diabetic poodle), but, hey, a good challenge bears the best fruit. You could land a best friend in the process.

"But I don't have a yard," you say. "I may be moving soon." "I already have a dog/cat." Yeah, OK, like these animals can afford to be picky. To a dog that sits in a cage all day, a one-bedroom apartment feels like a grand hotel.

And haven't you read about how a person's blood pressure drops around a friendly animal? Wouldn't it be affirming to come home from a crappy day at work to find a dog that's thrilled to see you? And, trust me, brushing your teeth becomes a far more lively and social event with a cat ramming its head into your leg over and over.

The Pet Adoptathon takes place May 1-3 at various locations throughout the metroplex, including Operation Kindness, 1029 Trend Drive, Carrollton, (972) 418-PAWS; and the SPCA of Texas, 362 S. Industrial Blvd., (214) 651-9611.


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