I’ve been working at the Humane Society in a neighboring county for about a month and a half. It’s hard work in a couple of ways. A large part of what I do is cleaning up after the animals. There is a lot of work to do and it has to be done before they open to the public, so it is fast paced work as well. It’s physically demanding and I come home tired.
It is also psychologically hard. I like working with the animals. I know I should not get attached because most of them will not be there long: they’ll be adopted or sent out on rescue. Keeping them around a long time is actually bad because this is (of necessity) a kill shelter, although they work hard to keep euthanasia to a bare minimum.
When I started working there, there was a little pit bull named “Freddie”. He was bright, and friendly, and even as a new employee he never objected to my coming into his pen to clean or work with him. He was obviously a favorite with all the staff. Everyone loved Freddie. He looked a bit like Gator, one of my foster dogs at the time.
We put Freddie down last week.
Seems Freddie was not so friendly with strangers. He’s been adopted two, maybe three times and was brought back each time because he snapped at them. Then he snapped at the veterinarian and she ordered him destroyed. That was a sad, sad day for all of us. I’m convinced some socialization would have saved him. But that’s hard to do in a shelter environment. Even a good one.
Then there is Josephine. Josie arrived just recently. I’d seen her curled up in a ball at that back of her kennel, trembling in fear because of the noise in the shelter. She’s developed a form of mange triggered by stress. I worried about her.
I came home from work last Saturday and Marie said, “Tell me about the beagle.”
She told me that the Humane Society had posted an urgent plea for the adoption or fostering of a beagle who would not last long in the shelter environment. It was Josephine. Marie’s heart had gone out to her, so we drove the 35 minutes back there to pick her up for fostering. Officially we’re “full” for fostering, but who can’t find room for a pitiful Beagle?
It’s only been a few days, but she is doing really well. And, the Humane Society message and photos on Facebook have gotten her adopted. They are working on getting her a ride with GoNorth Animal Transport in Knoxville for a ride to Chicago via a rescue in Wisconsin.
A happy ending, to a sad tale — this time.
Another is Julian: a burly Boxer mix who had been picked up by animal control. He’d been wandering loose and was attacked by another dog. He was pretty torn up when he came in, but we’ve been nursing his wounds and feeding him antibiotics. He’s as gentle and sweet-natured as can be. But he tested positive for heart worms a couple of days ago and the Manager was in favor of putting him down because of his scars. People come to a shelter to adopt a “pretty” dog. His chances of adoption from there were slim. I pointed out that people often adopt hard-luck stories from rescues. Could we not get him into a rescue, maybe a breed-specific rescue for Boxers?
“We could”, she said, “but we can’t treat him here, he’d need to be fostered to get him through that.”
I told her that Steel Away Home (the rescue my wife and I work with) might take him in, if the treatment is paid for, and if they won’t I’ll do it myself. My only thought was, “Please, just don’t kill him.”
He’s going to the veterinarian today for evaluation. If he does not have irreparable damage already, he will be set up to start treatment and he will come home with me.
A sad ending hopefully averted.
Yesterday I was doing SAFER testing and drawing blood for heartworm tests. Everyone did well except for Axel, a gorgeous 9 month old, speckled gray and black Heeler mix, with a great personality. He passed his SAFER test with flying colors, but turned out HW+. He even sat and let me poke him repeatedly with the needle trying to get blood out of him. What will happen to him? I don’t know, but at this point he’s standing at the entryway of the Rainbow Bridge.
With summer coming on and mosquitoes coming out in force because of a mild winter, I suppose I’ll have to get used to dogs being put down for heartworm. Too many owners refuse to give them a preventative. Treatment is expensive, and they require a tranquil setting for a lengthy recovery. That means a foster home. There just aren’t enough foster homes available. Perhaps you would help?
If you have a warm place in your heart for dogs, please consider becoming a canine foster home and help save lives.
If you live in Jefferson County, the Humane Society of Jefferson County (where I work) is trying to build up their foster home system and would be happy to talk to you about it. Call: (865) 475-8930 between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm Mon – Sat, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org any time, or hook up with us on Facebook,
For those interested in getting involved, but living in other areas, please search the web for canine rescues (or feline rescues, or equine rescues if that’s where your interests lie) in your area and give them a call. You can also check with your local Humane Society and see if they have a foster home program. Helping save lives is such a rewarding experience!