I’ve always loved this quote by poet Robert Frost: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
It’s not just because these are clever words written by a clever man — it’s because this quote has the power of truth behind it. At the South LA Shelter Intervention program, we see this piece of wisdom in action time and time again. Taking it one step further, in South LA, good fences (or gates) save lives.
Fence and gate repairs is one of the services we offer to help keep dogs out of the shelter and in their homes. The majority of these requests are initiated by animal control officers who visit a home and cite a dog owner for not adequately containing their dog in the yard. This can be a very challenging citation for a dog owner, especially if he or she is a renter or doesn’t have the money or skills to make the necessary improvements to secure their yard.
That’s where we come in and offer assistance as best we can.
Before sending out a handyman to support the family, we must first obtain permission from a landlord to repair or replace a fence. This can be a greater obstacle than you might imagine. For example, in one of the areas that we regularly service (90003), there are approximately 17,500 homes, condos, and apartments within 3.6 square miles. Roughly 68% of the people living in this very densely populated area are renters. Therefore every repair that we make to a property requires not only the approval of the dog owner, but first the approval of the property owner. This requires our time and also much convincing as many property owners are not initially receptive to the idea.
Other times we meet families who feel pressured to relinquish their pets due to disagreements with neighbors. In these cases, simple fence or gate improvements can create peace between neighbors. Harmony is an invaluable quality when it comes to one’s living situation, and to the safety of a loved pet. The families that we help commonly say things like, “Everything was okay until a new neighbor moved in with their dog.” This is because families regularly share driveways or live on lots where two or three houses share the land. People live in converted garages, or even single family houses that have been converted to accommodate multiple families, each renting different parts of the divided house.
Our job is to try our best to make it work, for the family’s sake and for the animal’s. One simple solution is putting up a sheet of metal, separating the front house from the back house. This can keep two dogs from “fence fighting,” and therefore may keep these animals from being surrendered to the shelter.
Another common fix is lining a chain link fence with aluminum siding, which prevents small dogs from slipping out and getting into the street (where they are often hit by a car or attacked by larger dogs.) Unfortunately, there are parts of […]