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The Scarlet & Black

Abandoned pet sparks alarm among Grinnell pet owners


By Shreyas Karki

On Nov. 7, a red Chrysler van pulled up to the closed Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS) with a dog in the backseat. A man gets out, tries to open the door, and, realizing it was closed, ties the dog to a pet carrier in the cold, and then drives off.  This was the scene unfolding on PALS’ security cameras. PALS reached out to the community to identify the man, and the man then had to contend with the Sheriff’s Office. According to PALS, he defended himself by saying that “since his rifle wasn’t working, this was the dog’s best option.”

Many Grinnell residents disagreed, however, and voiced their opinions on a Facebook post that quickly became the talk of the town. 

After spending hours outside, the dog was rescued by PALS and given love, treats and a warm, cozy place to sleep. PALS mentioned that the dog was “scared” and “very underweight,” and hinted that the former living environment of the pup was substandard. Some residents reserved judgement on the man’s actions.

Although the police have been contacted, it’s likely the man won’t face many repercussions. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Iowa is one of the states with the worst animal protection laws, ranked near the bottom at 48. Not only does the state have a high density of puppy mills, it also offers no felony provisions for first-time animal cruelty, inadequate standards of basic care and doesn’t allow courts to restrict ownership of animals after a conviction. Meaning, even if the man who abandoned the dog has charges pressed upon him, there is no provisions preventing him from adopting another dog. 

Iowa’s lax laws has meant that dog loss and dog abandonment is a problem state-wide, and Grinnell is not exempt from those problems. PALS is contacted frequently. However, they’re only a small non-profit, no-kill center that doesn’t receive government or private funding. They rely on donations and the good-will of volunteers for day-to-day functioning. 

“We can only take in so many dogs,” president Jenny Fiebelkorn said. “We have a waiting list, and offer dog-ownership education. We connect owners with a kennel to train their dog, and we can help them learn how to spread the word and re-home their animal, if that’s appropriate. One way or another, dogs find a loving home.”

Shelters and rescues are not the only places caring for abandoned animals. The Grinnell community also has self-proclaimed “animal angels” who take in animals as well as find them homes. No matter which way you look at it, the care for strays and discarded dogs is a team effort.

“Abandonment is never the answer,” Fiebelkorn said. “This dog now has to deal with being abandoned. They have souls just like us. They don’t deserve to be abandoned.”

Although an individual’s neglect and apathy sparked this story, the actions of the Grinnell community in locating this man, rescuing the pup, and continuously providing a home for lost and sidelined dogs is a testament to the compassion of this small city. In order to continue the fight against animal cruelty and abandonment, interested volunteers can donate or find additional information at

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    Harve MorganNov 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Well, duh, if there are no other options, what does Pals expect one to do? I see these no kill shelters as acting as though they are God, deciding which animals can live and which can die a terrible death after being turned away and abandoned. The very least they can do to prevent this suffering is offer euthanasia over a terrible death. There’s nothing humane about No Kill.