It was July 24, 2016, and the dog at the center of this story had just spent more than two months in a kennel in northern California.
The dog’s owner, a man named Richard, had been looking for a new home to raise his four-year-old Labrador retriever, Max, who had recently lost both legs to a form of cancer.
It wasn’t the first time Max had gone into a kenny barn for a home.
His owner, Richard, has been involved in animal husbanding for years, and Max’s owners knew he was special.
So they started looking for someone who would take Max home.
On July 24th, 2016 they found him in the middle of the road near the intersection of Route 66 and Route 70 in a field with a pile of dog food and a pile o’ crates of crates stacked up.
The owner, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation from a law enforcement agency, called 911.
The sheriff’s deputies arrived within minutes, and in the ambulance, Max was diagnosed with a rare form of canine leukemia.
He died three days later.
Richard said he had lost faith in his ability to care for his dog.
“My first thought was that maybe he was a bit stressed out and didn’t want to go out,” he told Bleacher, and he went back into the kennels for the next three weeks.
“And then I had the realization that my heart and soul were in the right place.”
But it was not the end of it.
Richard kept Max in his arms until his death.
But that was not his last call.
He kept Max for about two weeks.
At one point he called the sheriff’s office again, hoping to get his dog back.
It took about two days for the Sheriff’s Department to come.
They said they would not come.
And so, on July 30th, Max’s family called the Sheriff and told them the situation was getting worse.
They also wanted the dogs back.
They told the Sheriff, they had been told Max would die soon, that he would never walk again, and that he was going to be euthanized.
When Richard and the sheriff talked to the family, they were not happy with the outcome.
“They were upset and disappointed, and we said, you know, we’re not going to go through that again,” Richard told Bleachers.
“We said, we know we’re doing the right thing here.”
The family eventually decided to bring Max to a shelter, and it was there Richard received the best news he had ever had: Max was in good hands.
Richard had rescued Max, and had taken him to the vet where the vets treated him for the leukemia and other ailments.
Richard says he had no idea that the hospital would eventually euthanize him.
“I never thought it would happen that it did,” Richard said.
But he knew the decision would come.
“He got to see a lot of good people,” Richard continued.
“So, for me, it’s just a very good thing.”
The Sheriff’s office says it is looking into the death of Max, as well as a separate case involving another dog that was euthanased in November 2016.
In both cases, the dogs were in distress, with the owners fearful that their pets would suffer similar fate.
“These dogs were just suffering, and this was an incident that happened because they were in such pain,” Richard says.
“That’s what the dog owners are trying to do is to make sure their dogs are taken care of.”
Richard’s story is not unique.
Last year, the Animal Welfare Institute found that dogs and cats that have been euthanaled for being too sick are being used as bait to catch cats and dogs for meat.
A 2012 study found that about one-third of all dogs and more than one-quarter of all cats that were euthanuated in the United States were euthansized for not being able to live up to the owners expectations.
The ASPCA says the problem is getting worse in the U.S., with more and more people turning to dog food for food, and more and longer lines at pet stores.
And it’s getting worse at the kenny industry.
“If the average person can’t afford to feed their dog or cat, it becomes an industry,” says Vicki Pappas, president of the Humane Society of the United State.
Pappacos has spent much of her career in the kitty industry.
She says many kenneled pets are being turned into meat.
“It’s not that people don’t want them, it just doesn’t make sense,” Pappachas said.
“What we’re seeing is that people have come to understand that they need to be able to feed themselves, and they need a way to do it.”
A recent report from the Humane Association of the USA found that nearly one-half of all kennelled pets were