Sid had to go.

***

In one last-ditch effort, the clinic staff turned to Ric Browde, a retired Beverly Hills record producer and client.

The walls of Browde's home are lined with evidence of a career working with the likes of Joan Jett, Poison and Ted Nugent. Most days, though, he is 25 miles away at the county-run Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, serving a community where strays are a rampant problem.

Just one healthy female can give birth to a litter of four to six puppies a year. Continue the multiplication — females in those litters giving birth year after year — and it's clear why the nation has a stubborn problem with unwanted dogs, even though the vast majority of American pets are fixed.

Known for his unorthodox approach to finding homes, Browde once boarded kennels on a private jet headed to France, where small fashionable dogs such as Chihuahuas are in high demand.

As Browde knelt down to meet Sid, it was clear why the dog was still homeless. "Who is going to want a dog that looks like this?" he thought.

Browde began working the phones. The best trait this dog had going for him, other than his gentle nature, was his breed. Browde called and emailed pictures of Sid to rescue groups throughout Southern California. Only one called him back.

Caroline Pespisa, a financial analyst for Southern California Edison, was "scouting" for German Shepherd Rescue in Burbank, helping to identify shepherds that could be plucked from public shelters before they were destroyed.

On June 19 last year, she drove to El Monte to meet Sid. "It's all about appearances, and he did not look good," Pespisa said.

She felt the weight of her decision. It was either the rescue or a public shelter and almost certain death. She recommended that the Burbank organization make room, playing up Sid's sweet spirit and playing down his many health problems.

Two weeks later, Pespisa returned to pick up Sid for the drive to Burbank, a blanket stretched across the back seat. The staff of the emergency hospital gathered to see him off.

"I wondered whether we'd ever find out what happened to him," Patlogar said.

***

At the Burbank rescue, everyone is a volunteer. The shelter relies on donations and adoption fees.

Lead volunteer Jeremy Evans, a cinematographer and photographer, needs lots of young, healthy, pretty shepherds that will be adopted in a few days to help cover the costs of keeping older dogs that can take months, if not years, to find a home.

Evans lies awake in bed at night sometimes, haunted by the dogs he turns away.

"I feel like I am giving them a death notice," he said. "I try not to think about it."

Evans took one look at Sid, and thought, "How am I going to get this guy adopted?"

***