This Romeo's story just may have a happier ending than the Shakespearian version.
Romeo, a fluffy maltese mix, was found lying by the side of a fellow dog, Juliet, after she was hit by a car. Juliet died on the way to the hospital, but Romeo survived, and was left in need of a loving home.
This story is told in "The Unadoptables," a series from FremantleMedia's new YouTube channel, The Pet Collective. The channel consists of seven original, short-form animal series, produced by the company behind "American Idol."
In the video above featuring Romeo, Baldwin Park Animal Care Center caregiver Isha Willits explained, "He lost his Juliet, so we called him Romeo."
Although their facility is large, Willits explained in the video that sick, suffering and aggressive dogs are often euthanized because "we don't have all the space in the world; we don't have all the resources to walk these dogs every day and keep them happy, and they don't deserve to be in a cage forever."
As a public shelter, LA Department of Animal Care and Control's Evelina Villa explained to HuffPost, "We don't have the luxury of saying, 'no, we're full'" and the numbers add up. They're currently in the midst of "kitten season," receiving litters of kittens nearly every day.
Villa estimates that over 23,340 animals on average enter the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center every year, including dogs, cats, rabbits and other domestic animals.
The shelter takes in strays, gather animals roaming the streets, and accepts pets surrendered by people who can no longer care for them, including families who can't afford the pet, are having a baby or are moving.
Isha Willits told HuffPost that one problem is that pet owners don't educate themselves about the animal before taking it in, and an active pet may not fit the owner's lifestyle.
Another issue is trendy pets. They receive animals made popular in a movie, near Halloween they get black cats, and Christmastime sees a lot of puppies. Willits said a gift recipient should be aware they are receiving a pet before anyone purchases it as a gift.
Michelle Davis, supervising producer at The Pet Collective, told HuffPost that "The Unadoptables" is a look at pets that tend to be difficult for shelters to adopt out. "Unadoptables" looks at animals with special needs, black cats, inseparable pairs and pets that are old or considered unattractive.
Davis said she never realized the enormity of the animal overpopulation problem until she began working on the series. Although her team debated working with just no-kill shelters, Davis argued that everyone has the same goal of helping animals, despite the major challenge posed by a lack of resources and support.
Even if pets like Romeo featured on The Pet Collective end up getting adopted, for every Romeo, Davis said there are "thousands more" that need a home.
Davis recommended responsible ownership, which includes maintaining good health (obesity is a growing problem among animals), microchipping pets so they can be returned if lost, and spay/neutering all pets.
Villa echoed Davis, declaring spay/neutering pets as the top priority. She said just this one act would greatly improve the overpopulation crisis facing shelters right now.
To learn more about helping animals in the featured shelter, visit AnimalCare.LAcounty.gov or the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center Facebook page. According to Willits, they are always looking for more volunteers to help at adoption events, and walk and train the dogs. If you want to adopt a pet in need, you can also visit your local shelter or check out Petfinder.com and the ASPCA website to learn more.
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