Only a few months prior, Mr. Sanchez and his family had adopted Dixie, an adult pit bull, from a rescue group in the Bay Area. Thinking Dixie was already spayed, the rescue sent her home with her new family. “We thought they would spay her, but she hadn’t gone into heat while at the rescue, and she had these scars across her abdomen,” Mr. Sanchez explains. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that the family realized something wasn’t quite right:
“She was going like she had to go to the restroom, and you see puppy legs coming out.”
Dixie was pregnant.
More Surprises on Spay Day
Mr. Sanchez wasted no time. “We didn’t want that for her. She’s everything to our family. My kids love her, she loves my kids. She’s a good dog.”
He signed her up for an appointment on Spay Day Sacramento, an annual event coordinated by the Sacramento Area Animal Coalition (SAAC) for pet owners in Sacramento and Yolo counties. Through Spay Day Sacramento, families in need can get their pets altered for just $20 per dog and $15 per cat, all thanks to donors and sponsors who make cash contributions, as well as the vet clinics who volunteer to provide the surgeries.
Mr. Sanchez and his family knew that Dixie had been abused by her former owner, but only on Spay Day did it become apparent how much—the scars on her belly weren’t from a botched spay surgery: they were c-section scars. Dixie had been used as a breeder.
Because of all the scar tissue from her previous c-sections, Dixie’s spay surgery at the Sacramento SPCA required three veterinarians. It took two hours—about four times longer than it takes one veterinarian to perform a typical spay.
“Every year on Spay Day the Sacramento SPCA staff alters sixty or more dogs, which takes the entire day,” explains Alexis Raymond, SAAC President. “But they took the extra time to make sure that Dixie was well taken care of and would never have another litter. It shows how committed they are to helping animals and reducing pet overpopulation in our community.”
“Real skin and bones,” Mr. Sanchez recalls how Dixie looked during the adoption process. She had been found abandoned in the middle of nowhere, alone in a drainage canal. Mr. Sanchez and his wife were moved by her story and not intimidated by her appearance. “A lot of people judge her when they look at her until they get to meet her and touch her and pet her,” Mr. Sanchez explains. “She looks mean when you first see her, but she’s the biggest baby.”
Mr. Sanchez acknowledges the reality of taking on a dog with history: “She’s still a little timid, probably from when she was abused. Certain movements we can’t do real fast; she thinks we’re gonna hit her.”
When asked what would have happened without the spay/neuter opportunity from SAAC, Mr. Sanchez resolutely replies, “We would have had to take her and look for other resources to get her spayed.”
“When [my wife and I] saw Dixie’s profile online, we fell in love. We wanted to give her a better life.” And they have. They ensured that she won’t give birth to any more unwanted litters. They kept Malo, her final puppy, and have since watched Dixie blossom in a safe environment. “She always wants my attention,” Mr. Sanchez laughs. “Very playful, real quiet—she listens.”
Finally, in contrast to the pit bull’s oft-maligned image, they discovered she loves other dogs. Mr. Sanchez describes Dixie’s transformation with true joy and appreciation in his voice: “When she comes around other dogs, she just comes alive, like nothing ever happened.”
I always ask people to describe their pets in one word. Dixie’s?
“Precious,” Mr. Sanchez replies. “There’s more than one word, but if just one . . . precious.”