Anyone Have an Opinion on a Thing?

It’s been a year of milestones including (in chronological order) – losing my job, losing my Dad, getting married, losing a dog, changing my career, turning 50 and a family member experiencing a sudden medical emergency with an initially grave prognosis (she’s much better now, thankfully).  Naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot of thinks – about what I’ve achieved, what I haven’t, what I need to let go of, what I can still reasonably hope for, etc.  So I’ve decided to get a sportscar and a mistress.

Or:

I’ve always hoped to have a small beagle sanctuary (small as in number of dogs and small as in size of beagle).  My idea is to get the word out locally that, assuming I have space and resources, I could provide an alternative for beagle owners considering taking their dog to the pound.  I am not looking to buy dogs or adopt dogs who have other people willing to provide them homes.  Rather, I’d like to be a last resort safety net for beagles whose owners can no longer care for them for whatever reason and haven’t found a home for them for whatever reason.  Due to the popularity of the breed here, there are dogs who, for example, have been hunted and/or bred but received little vet care over the course of their lives.  When they become too old, lame, what have you, the owner might consider taking the dog to a pound.  Another example – dogs who are gun shy, won’t hunt, won’t stay with the pack, etc.  Basically if you have no home for your small beagle and are planning to take him to the pound, I’d like to provide my home as an alternative.

I have the heart and the mind to do the work and, having owned several beagles over the years, no illusions about what would be involved.  (Baying? It’s music to my ears!)  And our house is in a semi-rural setting with sufficient space to readily accommodate a group of beagles.  I’ve accumulated a fair amount of supplies over the years (plenty of bowls, buckets and basic dog stuff-n-things).  So what’s stopping me?

Well, not to put too fine a point on it but DOLLARS.  Money can’t buy me love but it can buy vet care and meds, food (which I still make 100% from scratch), Kuranda beds and replacement supplies for items which wear out (blankies, collars, toys) etc.  I’ve never been in a position to properly fund a beagle sanctuary and so for years, it’s been back-burnered, waiting on my ship to come in.  This is the year I have come to realize and accept: there is no ship.

I know many readers are rescuers, some official with a name and a designation from the IRS as a charitable organization, others simply taking in an animal in need now and then, whenever they are able.  And I know we all appreciate that most rescues and sanctuaries are in constant need of donations.  Only scam organizations like the Humane Society of the United States are paying people six figure salaries.  Most of the grunt work in the rescue world is done by – well, us grunts.

I have always valued the input I’ve received from the YesBiscuit community so I’d like to ask for your guidance now.  Should I go with my heart and try to manage a small beagle sanctuary, even if I start with just one dog and never have the means to progress or would it be sensible to let go of this dream and move on?

(Sidenote:  For those interested, I do not know when, if ever, I will return to blogging about animals being killed in shelters.  I do not feel able to do that at this time.  I have maintained the blog because I appreciate the community here and because I would like to write more consistently one day.  Possibly, if I do go with the beagle sanctuary, I may blog about that.  You know, as an inspiration/horrible warning to others.)

With little to say, I find some small refuge in the words of others.

[The word balance] seems to speak as much to being stuck and immovable, as much as to harmony. There is also the sense of unbalancing that must take place in order to push a person into a new and larger set of circumstances.

— English poet and philosopher David Whyte

It’s been a hell of a year.  I haven’t been able to look at any stories of shelter pets being hurt or killed this week so I have nothing to write for the blog.  But I didn’t want to just go dark so I looked in my drafts folder to see if anything was swirling around and I found this.  I saved it one year ago.  I believe my intention at the time was to examine the quote in terms of its relevance to shelter reform.  Today, when I find myself lacking, I am glad to come across this quote and to observe its relevance in a different way.  I thought some of you might enjoy it too.

I realize this is not the type of post most of you come here to read.  In consideration of that, I won’t prattle on.  Suffice to say, I am lost and afraid and deeply saddened.  But I am not alone.  We are not alone.  The only thing I feel certain of right now, is the importance of remaining connected to one another.  This I know.  Stay together, no matter what.

jade 062914

 

Mailbag

Reader Tami writes:

Good news in cat rescue can be hard to find. The story of Julianne Westberry in SC has been particularly hard to swallow. She was trusted by so many. I worked side by side with her in the Anderson County Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic. She seemed to have a stream of foster homes and adopters. She was given the “Volunteer of the Year” award by ACHS in May 2014!  One month later, she was arrested for ill treatment of animals.

A passerby stopped to ask if the furniture on her porch was for sale. When the odor from inside, and the fly lined, paper covered windows were noted, authorities were notified. Authorities whose facility could be seen out the window of her house, less than 100 feet away!

Inside, they found 32 live cats, 37 deceased. More bodies were found by the owners of the rental house when they went in to clean up. It is believed, at least 25 more bodies. The true number of deceased may never be known. Many were so decomposed, they only way to know they ever existed was by fur and pieces of their tiny bodies. She pulled moms and kittens. Left them in their carriers. There, they died. One, Venus, was only ID’d by her microchip. I’ve seen pictures, not released to the public. Of the 32 survivors, 4 have since died. I have one, who was in some of the worst condition, in the care of my wonderful vets.

Thanks to the dedication of Ash Truesdale, volunteer with Foster Paws Rescue, it has been found that she pulled from 16 CONFIRMED shelters. In a little over a year, over 800 cats and kittens. She was using 3 different aliases. Her name, JW, J’s Kitten Cottage, and unbeknownst to them, the 501c3 of Anderson County Humane Society. She was accepting pledges for these cats. THAT may be the only way for these cats to get justice. Internet fraud.

It was also learned, many of the cats had been taken to her boyfriend’s farm. She lived there, most of the time. Those who have seen the farm give estimates of 70-300 cats that are alive. Others who died have been disposed of (so we are told). After JW was released, the boyfriend contacted Anderson County PAWS, the local impound, to owner surrender the farm cats. Anderson Co was given the go ahead to begin trapping. Cats would be trapped, taken to Anderson Co PAWS, and summarily killed. After all, they were “just cats”, not needed for criminal investigation and PAWS is “already full” from a previous hoarding /rescue that’s awaiting court. They don’t have the space, staff, funds, etc to save the cats.

Those following the case found out about Anderson Co’s plans on Wednesday, July 2. On Monday, July 7 at 6 PM, the cats would begin dying. “No exceptions”. 30 cats, already trapped and in custody had been given a death sentence. The facility would be closed on Friday July 4. Open for a limited time on Sat July 5.

Enter the “irresponsible public”…

Wednesday PM, July 2– much hand wringing and public outcry on the PAWS FaceBook threads as word spread.

Thursday, July 3– a meeting of about a dozen people. The only way to save these cats, these cats who had been promised a safe loving home, these cats who had already once escaped the needle or gas chamber, was to acquire a building. But we were going into a holiday weekend. People were out of town, businesses were closed. Ash knew folks would help, IF these cats could find safe haven (shelter) for a brief time.

Friday, July 4– Geneva Lawrence, a member of Kitten Action Team, spread the word. She had found someone to donate a facility for 6 weeks. Volunteers would be given keys at 5PM on Sunday, July 6. The cats HAD a building! An empty building.

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room.  [Photo via Facebook]

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room. [Photo via Facebook]

Again, the news was shared. A building was found. No cages, no food, no litter… The media was contacted. When the keys were handed over, a local news crew was there to document volunteers, with brooms and rags. Cleaning the building. Cages were loaned by multiple rescues. A wish list was set up. Amazon and UPS became aware of the multiple packages they would begin shipping. Transport from Anderson County to the building in Mauldin, SC was arranged for the cats. 

Volunteers were there on Monday, July 7 setting up for the arrival. Again, multiple news media were there. Currently there are over 50 cats and kittens. Kittens born at PAWS. Most of the females are pregnant. All are receiving care. All are alive. All of this, thanks to the public. As you like to say, the REAL humane society – small “h”, small “s” – wants to save lives. And they will.

Thank you Tami for sharing this good news and thanks to everyone who saved those non-evidence just cats from being killed at the pound.  Yay irresponsible public.

One Dog Not Killed by the Pound

Not chasing tennis balls anytime soon.

Not chasing tennis balls anytime soon.

Yesterday a dog apparently crawled underneath someone’s truck in a parking lot where I too was parked. When the family returned to their vehicle and tried to leave, they said they felt a hump and knew instantly they had run over something. It was the dog, of course.

A few of us approached to help but no one wanted to get too close to the pitbull, who was dragging her hind leg and trying to find a quiet spot. I talked to her and since she appeared friendly, I decided to kneel down and hold my hand close enough to her face so she could respond one way or the other. (How brave I am now that I have health insurance and can get seen by a doctor if a dog bites me, heh. Thanks Obamacare!) She gave my hand a kiss so I moved in to pick up the tether she was dragging. Someone had wrapped a chain around her neck 3 times and attached a leash type tether to it, which appeared frayed at the end, as if possibly she’d broken free.

I attempted to get information from the family who had accidentally run over her regarding any possible owner. There was no known person with the dog. Another woman asked if we should call animal control to pick the dog up and of course I said no, knowing that would be a death sentence. Just then the driver of the truck came around the corner and announced that she had called AC and they were on the way. So I decided to stay with the dog and see if pleading for her life might do any good. Nothing to lose.

When the ACO arrived I was so pleased to see how gentle he was with the dog and how compassionate he appeared to be. I asked if there was any chance at all the dog would not be killed and he told me in a very straightforward manner that there was no hope of that. He explained how much he hated that fact but that he wanted to be honest with me. I told him I could not send an apparently young, friendly and otherwise healthy dog to be killed. She at least deserved a veterinary evaluation. I am currently broke but I still have a couple hundred dollars in the bank, courtesy of donations that readers have made to the blog’s expense account over the years. I made an executive decision and decided no one who donated to the blog expenses fund would mind if I raided it under these circumstances. I am going to pay it back over time and a woman in the parking lot offered to chip in as well.

The kind ACO managed to get the dog onto his stretcher and unwind the chain from around her neck. He loaded her into my car for me and said I could call him later in the week and he would come by to pick up the stretcher. He scanned her for a chip, found none and wrote up a found dog report. I asked if he needed to take her picture and he said the pound doesn’t have that capability.  He explained to me that someone could potentially reclaim her but added that anyone attempting to do so would need to have a very good explanation for why the dog was loose with a chain wound around her neck.  He thanked me profusely for helping the dog and asked me to let him know what happens with her.

I called the emergency vet clinic on the way and they took her to the back immediately upon arrival. I was asked to fill out paperwork, which I did, scrawling “I have financial limitations.” across the top. After awhile, the vet who had examined her spoke to me about his findings. The injuries did not appear to be grave and he explained that despite the fact that I was being handed an $800 estimate for care that would be ideal, much of it was precautionary in nature. I was given the option to go through the estimate item by item, picking out the services I could afford. He strongly recommended at least one x-ray. I picked out $200 worth of services, including an x-ray. This is that x-ray:

Radiograph of dog pelvis showing 2 fractures  (click to enlarge)

Radiograph of dog pelvis showing 2 fractures (click to enlarge)

The dog’s pelvis is fractured in 2 places but they will heal on their own, with approximately 6 weeks of cage rest. The vet said, “She got lucky.” I was never so happy to hear 3 words. The vet told me the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible and thanked me for not leaving the dog in the lobby, which he said happens regularly.  He gave me $50 off the bill. They sent us home with pain pills and home care instructions.

We already have too many dogs. Now we have one more, at least temporarily. I tried reaching out to some area rescues but have been turned down. She is approximately 9 months old and I am assuming she is intact, although due to the pain she’s in, I haven’t checked for a spay scar. Her belly looks wormy but she has not been starved and has a good amount of muscle on her. I assume she needs vaccines, heartworm testing/meds, deworming and spay surgery, once she regains her health. But that’s down the road. For now, I am taking things with her one day at a time. Yesterday was a good day.

In the absence of a shelter that actually shelters animals in need, at least we have the so-called irresponsible public. Thank you to the generous woman who offered on the spot to help with the bill, to all of you who have donated to the blog’s expense fund in the past, and to the kind ACO who wasn’t afraid to tell the truth when it mattered. I will keep everyone posted on this dog’s progress.

For as long as this dog is with us, she will need a name. I decided to name her in honor of the little girl whose family accidentally ran over the dog. She was so polite and well spoken and she impressed me with her sincere concern for the dog. She waited with me for awhile until her family left. While we were waiting for AC, she spotted an ambulance coming down the road and said, “I think that’s them!” This fills me with hope. I want that world to exist in this little girl’s lifetime. I want it to be true that animals are treated as sentient beings with the right to live and that when a stray dog has an emergency, the local shelter takes swift action to help protect that dog from further harm. And so, this dog will be called Jade.

Billy can not stand for any dog to be without a tennis ball.

Billy can not stand for any dog to be without a tennis ball.

Bringing Up from the Comments

The point I was trying to make with my Jokes R Us post the other day was that shelter pets have value to people who love them, whether those people pay an adoption fee or not. Obviously a few people missed the point but it’s so important and one I’ve tried to make repeatedly on the blog. Thankfully, we have some great commenters here who are pretty good with words – much better than my singing. So I’m bringing up this exchange for everyone to read:

mikken / October 10, 2013

You know, people who value animals see their intrinsic value. People who don’t…no amount of money is going to help them see the intrinsic value. I’m sure Michael Vick paid lots of money for his dogs, wanting only “the best”. And we all know how much he valued them.

Just because an animal was free, doesn’t mean it’s not loved as part of the family. Even if that family chooses to sing at it…

Eucritta / October 11, 2013

This is true.

Here’s another thing: if not for people who perceive the intrinsic value of animal life and happiness, there would be no rescue, no foster homes, no wildlife rehabilitators, no movements for shelter or wildlife management reform. No-one would agonize over a backyard puppy who can’t walk or a feral kitten with neuro issues or a neglected flock of young roosters. No-one would make pet wheelchairs, or floation devices for aquarium fishes with swim bladder disease.

The notion that there’s a division between people who care and the Irresponsible Masses is a false one. Time and time again I’ve met people who, seeing a need, stepped in to help as best they knew how. Time and time again I’ve met people who love their pets, no matter how they got them.

[…]

What they said.

Thank you.