A Look Inside of Rescue

My intention in writing this story is not to be judgmental, but to help people understand the cycle of events that begin with a single irresponsible act. 

Two months ago, a family that had an “accidental” litter, kept one of the puppies and dumped the other seven.

We at “Second Chance at Love Humane Society” took in three of the puppies and another rescue took in the other four.   Just a week earlier we had taken in seven other puppies and four adult dogs on the same day.  Needless to say, we had to scurry to find space for 14 new dogs! 

Rescuers like myself have few boundaries, and sometimes act with an impractical heart.  My grassroots humane society is volunteer-run and is always in need of operating funds, just like the millions of other rescue organizations around the world.  We are often broke.  We are always out of space.  We lack funds to make basic repairs to our shelter.  We’re in constant battle to find volunteer help and foster homes.  We take in geriatric dogs, disabled dogs, dogs with serious behavioral issues, and dogs that are ill.  I spend an enormous amount of time asking for money to support our cause. 

The 14 dogs that we took in were all sick to some degree.  We had an outbreak of Parvo.  We had cases of Giardia and coccidia.  We had fleas, ticks, lice and upper respiratory infections.  We are responsible for spaying and neutering each and every one of these dogs.  Besides feeding them, we address any medical issues that exist.  Before they leave our care they will all be vaccinated, Heartworm tested and microchipped.  The intake of these 14 dogs has racked up a medical bill of over $9,000 for Second Chance at Love and it’s not over yet.  Unfortunately, we are anything but unique.  One irresponsible, unkind or heartless act can create an avalanche of expenses and heart wrenching work for those who choose to step in to stop the bleeding.  A typical day in the life of a rescuer never ends.  Rescuers struggle to juggle their family commitments and often relationships are damaged as a result.  FInancial issues are all-consuming and create tremendous stress.  Rescuers deal with the heartache and guilt of not being able to take in every dog that needs our help.

I realize that none of us were forced to take on this type of work.  However, the drive to rescue comes straight from the heart.  Although, there are days that are so dark, we occasionally, and secretly, wonder why we do this kind of work.

One of the puppies we rescued, I named her Ida, I placed her with a couple who began as clients of mine but quickly became friends.  Earlier this year,  they became dedicated volunteers, helping Second Chance at Love post our available dogs on social media.  There are no two people in the world whom I would trust more with one of our dogs. 

I rescued Ida when she was only two months old.  For the short time she lived in our care, she was well-fed, socialized with people and other dogs, and most of all, loved.  Ida is one of the lucky ones.  She will never be a part of the miserable rescue cycle.  She’ll never be tossed at the pound, dumped in a field, or re-homed.  The couple who adopted her made a conscious, responsible, and well thought-out decision to bring her into their lives.  For me, a placement like this makes up for a multitude of heartaches we experience every day in this type of work. 

I’ve been involved in rescue for over 30 years.  Although I understand the huge importance of spaying and neutering, it won’t resolve everything.  There still will be 16-year-old dogs dumped at the pound because their owners are tired of them.  There still will be dogs that are relinquished because families move to apartments that don’t accept dogs. There still will be dogs that are surrendered because of behavioral issues that the owners can’t resolve. There still will be dogs who live their lives on the end of a chain.  There still will be dogs whose lives end by being euthanized at the hands of a pound employee, who’s heart breaks more each time.  The list goes on and on.

I dream of the day that rescue groups don’t need to exist – of a time when people think long and heard before getting a dog.  WHen people understand that buying or rescuing a puppy could be as much as a 15 or 16 year commitment.  When a dog is considered a family member.  And, when it’s understood that a dog needs to be trained, exercised and fulfilled. 

Until that day arrives, I salute, embrace and thank all of my fellow rescuers who work in the trenches.  I also thank the staff at countless pounds around the world who work tirelessly to save the dogs before their time runs out, and who do the heartbreaking work most of us could never do.  Thank you for the sacrifices you make everyday.  Stay strong and know that you’re making a huge difference, especially for those precious souls who were  fortunate enough to wind up in your care.  Well done!  Well done!