A Rescue Dog’s Journey

Many people who are involved in rescue forget sometimes that there are many other people who, because they haven’t had the opportunity, don’t really understand how it operates, what is involved, why we have adoption fees, application processes, and ask for donations. We want everyone to understand. So today we want to tell you about the typical journey of a rescued dog before s/he finds a home. That journey can start many places; maybe it starts with a concerned neighbor, an overwhelmed owner, the police department, a veterinarian or a shelter worker or volunteer.

Let’s use the shelter worker for our example. County, tax-funded shelter worker John gets to know a dog, say “Lucky.”  Lucky came in as a stray, so she is on a five day stray hold (many times it’s only three days), she has lost some fur and has a little wound on her leg. These issues will make her unadoptable at the shelter which has no veterinary care. She will likely be put down at the end of her stray hold. But, she is sweet as pie and leans against his leg when he goes in her run. He decides he will try to find a rescue that will take her; he may or may not have the support of his employer in trying to do that.  But, he decides to try anyway. He takes some pictures of her on his phone and, when he gets off work, goes home and researches rescues that might take this little terrier mix.  He looks up contact info and starts shooting off emails to rescues all over the place, not just in Alabama where the shelter is. He gets back a few “Sorry, we’re full,” and a couple of requests for more information: How much vetting has she had? Does he have any idea what has caused the skin issue? Is she spayed? Is she heartworm positive? He can answer some of them, but the shelter has no vet so she is not spayed, she hasn’t had a rabies shot and she may be heartworm positive.

A rescue in CT, let’s say 😊, agrees to take her, knowing that she may need extensive and expensive vetting.  It is a risk, but they are touched by John’s plea and her sweet photos. Great!  But, what does the rescue need to do to get her out? Do they need a rescue license in Alabama or, perhaps a local rescue will help? How many days before she is put down? Is there someone locally who can hold her until the rescue makes transport arrangements?  Maybe a local vet who can do some of the necessary work and board her for awhile? What is the shelter pull fee to get her?  There are so many questions, not enough answers many times and lots of research necessary.  The processes, however difficult, must be followed.

So Lucky goes to a local vet. She is heartworm positive. She has demodectic mange and the wound is infected. She needs a rabies shot. Her teeth are in bad shape and she needs a dental. She also needs to be spayed. Ka-ching, ka-ching $$$. But she is sweet as pie and leans against your leg when you pet her. She loves everybody. The rescue is not tax supported. It survives by adoption fees and donations. Lucky will make some family very happy. And she will die if they don’t get her.  So, they commit to her care.

At the same time, they have to make arrangements to get her to CT when her vetting is complete. So they research their options—a transport rescue which is possible, but they need two weeks notice so they are out. They find a commercial transport that will take her North for $150, but she will need a health certificate and she will need to be spayed first. More time at the vet for recovery. And they Leave from TN so someone will have to get her to TN where the transport will pick her up.

Meanwhile, the vet techs have fallen in love with her because she is sweet as pie, etc. So a vet tech volunteers to drive her from AL to TN transport on her day off. Lucky boards the transport in TN and, 17 hours later, she arrives in CT. Members of the rescue meet her after asking and begging and finally, luckily for Lucky, finding a foster.

After seeing another vet in CT, Lucky goes to a loving foster family while she goes through heartworm treatment with one child, age 12, and a large dog. They have a family emergency so another foster family takes her which has two children, two dogs and a cat. She stays there for two weeks and then goes back to her original family. Then…a family applies to adopt her. She is adopted! And…finally home.

How many people, how much expense and time and love go into saving just one dog!  No one regrets any of it, but please remember this representative story when you read an article that is critical of rescues’ application processes and fees; and, if you feel impatient with a dog that isn’t behaving the way you would like soon after you have adopted him/her. Please volunteer, donate, foster!  We appreciate it all so much on behalf of all the Lucky dogs who make it into rescue. ❤

This is Winnie.  The picture below was her life before rescue.  Now, she is happily in her forever home!