By Stanton Ellison, 17, West L.A. College
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Stanton says it’s important to get your pet spayed or neutered.

I always had small animals for pets but I wanted a dog. I loved my lizards, guinea pigs and cat but I wanted a pet I could wrestle and run around with.

But my mom wasn’t sure if I was mature enough to care for a dog. It took me a while to wear her down but about three years ago, after my two guinea pigs died from old age, I sat her down. I told her how most guinea pigs and hamsters lived only a few years but under my care, mine had lived twice as long. After we talked she agreed that I was ready for a dog.

Once I finally got one I couldn’t believe how well she fit into my life. I can take her on runs. She sometimes even wakes me up when I sleep too long. But what I couldn’t believe the most was how we found her.

One of Stanton’s favorite things to do with Budderz is to take her running.

My mom and I went to a few pet stores but they had only small dogs and I wanted a dog I could run and be active with. While in the store we met a woman who worked for an animal shelter. She said the shelter had lots of dogs that might fit what I wanted. I thought the dogs at a shelter would be vicious pit bulls and sick dogs being voluntarily put down by their owners. But the woman told us dogs don’t end up there because they’re aggressive, rather that they don’t have a home. So my mom and I decided to give it a try.

The dogs at the shelter were nicer than I expected

We went to the city shelter in South Los Angeles off of Crenshaw Boulevard. These were larger dogs, the kind I wanted. There were Mastiffs so large that they were almost as big as people, hounds that were so lean they could be racing dogs, Akitas that looked like snowdogs with their thick fur, and lots of mixed breeds.

We walked through three times but the ones I wanted were too big for our apartment at the time. We kept looking because I wanted to get a dog that day. The fourth walk-through, we saw her poking her head out of the little doghouse in her cage. She was the only dog not trying to get attention by barking and jumping at the gate. She was also medium-sized.

The workers told us that she was a few days away from being euthanized. Euthanization is a way to kill an animal humanely, usually through shots of chemicals that stop the animal’s heart. The worker told us that hundreds of dogs are killed every year at that shelter. He said thousands of dogs come in each year and it is too hard and expensive to take care of them all permanently. I knew that they put some animals down, but when I learned that hundreds are killed, my stomach ached.

When they took her out of her cage, she laid next to my leg and sat calmly. I thought it would be horrible for them to put her down. After we checked with our landlord, we took her home.

It didn’t take her long to open up to us and start acting playfully. Her previous owner named her Brownie, but that name didn’t seem to fit her so after a while I decided to name her Budderz after the character Butters from South Park, because of her golden yellow coat and the weird stuff she did.

She’s a funny dog

My mom and I laugh at how she barks at the wind when it blows loudly and how she is the only dog we have seen eat fruit, mainly strawberries. We joke about how she barks at mailmen but when the stove was smoking, she just sat there and drank her water. She may be a little crazy but we love her and her odd personality.

She’s always getting into trouble—little things like pulling down curtains, sitting on the couch when we tell her not to and drinking the toilet water. One day, after we had her about a year, we bought a precooked chicken from Ralphs and we opened it to eat a little. My mom realized we had run out of soda and we decided to go to the Sav-on down the street. When we came back, Budderz’s entire head was covered with grease and the chicken was gone. I wanted to get upset but I couldn’t help but laugh. My mom smiled and said, “I can’t even get mad. It’s not her fault that she outsmarted us.” Now we never leave food anywhere she may be able to get to it.

I feel so good that I finally got a dog, and that I saved a great dog’s life. The city of Los Angeles euthanized more than 7,500 dogs in 2009, according to the website for LA Animal Services, which runs shelters in L.A. When I think about all the animals killed I get so upset at the people who run the shelter, but it isn’t their fault that so many animals end up homeless. One reason is because cats and dogs aren’t spayed and neutered to prevent them from reproducing. They keep having more kittens and puppies and the owners don’t want them. The shelters can’t find homes for all of them so they have to be killed. I went on the Humane Society website and learned that if people spayed and neutered their animals, it would save 4 million cats and dogs from being killed every year in America because of overcrowding.

We can prevent more animals from being killed. If you have a dog or cat, get it fixed. In Los Angeles, you must get your animal spayed or neutered. I wish it was mandatory for the entire state. And if you want a pet, don’t buy an expensive dog from a shop, go to a shelter and find an animal that is cheaper, and save its life.

Click here for a listing of all animal shelters in Los Angeles County, including those run by the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and other cities within the county.

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