Editorial July 2013 Issue

Emotional Rescue

A blessing for those who help save lives.

Allow me to take a moment to thank anyone and everyone who participates in or supports the rescue movement. I had an experience recently with some rescue folks whose efforts on behalf of a dog I am trying to help brought me quite literally to tears. I’m amazed at their commitment on behalf of a dog they haven’t even met yet, on the word of some stranger who says it’s a nice dog who deserves some extra help. It’s astonishing.

Though I’ve long been aware of the rescue movement, I’ve had a mostly arms-length relationship with rescue people; all of my volunteer efforts over the past decade have been with shelters. Of course, shelters and rescues sometimes work together, and I’ve reached out to breed rescues a few times when there was a purebred in the shelter where I volunteer who needed some extraordinary help. For example, some Shar-pei people helped us place some abused Shar-pei who needed special care. And a local Dachshund rescue group once took on a heartworm-positive weiner dog that we volunteers had all fallen in love with, despite the fact that he was also a little bitey.

I’ve also had some ugly experiences with bad rescue people – faux rescuers, actually. Most notable was the woman who ran a small dog “rescue” but whose dogs, my shelter’s officers kept hearing, were in terrible shape. Our officers had contacted her numerous times, but she was hostile and basically told them that if they ever wanted to see her “rescue facility,” they were going to need a warrant. It took far too long to get a judge to sign a search warrant, but when the officers finally succeeded, they were aghast at what they found: over 100 emaciated small dogs, almost all of them in very bad shape with internal and external parasites and infections. Many of them had wounds from fighting (for food). There were pregnant females and others with nursing litters; a couple of the litters were sick with what proved to be distemper. (As a result of the ubiquitous plea bargain, the “rescue” owner eventually paid a fine and is on probation – not harsh enough punishment for the suffering she caused.)

Then there are people like this: There is a big, handsome hound in our shelter right now. Buddy is young and untrained and full of energy. He needs exercise and training, and I and some of the other volunteers have been working with him – but mostly he needs to get out of the shelter. He’s been there for two months already, and he’s so frustrated with his confinement that he goes bananas when people walk by to look at him, jumping, baying, and generally looking like a nutcase. If a volunteer or staff member is nearby, we always rush over to show anyone who might be interested that he’s really a good boy, he can sit quietly if you ask him to (and have some treats handy). We haven’t been able to convince anyone yet.

Desperate, I recently put out the word to some hound rescue people. And within a few days, I received word that several people are coordinating transportation for Buddy to an experienced hound foster home some hundreds of miles away. I received a text from one woman I spoke to telling me not to worry, “This boy will be saved by someone in our rescue.” I could not be more grateful, more happy for Buddy, or more amazed at the kindness and generosity of rescue people. Thank you.

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