Two dogs, Ripley and Banjo, being housed at the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control shelter in Castaic are believed to have belonged to the woman who died in a donation collection box on Oct. 6.
The connection is yet to be confirmed, as the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has yet to publicly identify the woman, pending notification of next of kin. However, the shelter confirmed that Ripley and Banjo’s owner was deceased and was brought in by deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Alec Torres, a local dog trainer from an organization called The Mannered Mutt, has also said she knows the dogs belonged to the yet-to-be-identified woman.
Both the shelter and Torres are trying their best to get these dogs adopted, but are operating on borrowed time – there’s only a certain duration dogs can be kept in kennels before they’re euthanized, according to the shelter, due to the overwhelming number of unsheltered animals since the pandemic.
“We’re also seriously over capacity,” said Torres. “I knew that we need to basically find a new person who maybe hasn’t fostered or adopted from a shelter before, maybe they’ve always wanted to but they have felt nervous about that because they didn’t feel they’d have enough support.”
As an incentive, Torres is offering free private sessions to help the dogs’ new potential parent or adopter to learn the best ways for caring for the two senior dogs. Ripley is an 11-year-old Dalmatian and Banjo is a 9-year-old Siberian husky. Both are neutered.
“I find that the No. 1 thing that prevents people from rescuing versus buying a dog or buying a puppy is that they worry that something’s gonna go wrong and that they’re not going to know how to fix it,” said Torres. “That’s where I come into play.”
Torres, who’s met the dogs, said they’re both very confused, depressed and want to be with each other again, which, as a result, means they’re lonely.
“Ripley just got over an upper respiratory infection, but he’s doing better now and Banjo so far has been able to play with a shelter volunteer who I know,” said Torres. “He was very silly and bouncy when he got out into the play yard.”
Torres said animal shelters and trainers are extremely overworked at the moment and could use any help they can get during a period of crisis following the pandemic.
“We’re having a very large crisis in all of our shelters. They’re busting at the seams. The workers themselves are reaching, they’re exhausted. As rescuers we’re exhausted, we are tired. We are sad. We really need the public’s help. We need people to step up who maybe have never done this before, because we’re exhausted, our families are exhausted, our finances are exhausted,” said Torres. “It’s a really tragic time, we really need help. We need people to stop giving up on their dogs for not very serious reasons. But, we also need people to step up and start fostering and start rescuing. That’s what we need desperately.”
The animal shelter in Castaic could not provide a time frame of when the dogs may be euthanized, but said time is running out for both Ripley and Banjo.