Category Archives: rescue and the no kill movement

devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it

devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it

One of the most horrifying things imaginable, at least for me, is the tragic and/or sudden passing of a pet. My 13 year old pup has been in declining health for the better part of 3 years – so I’ve had time to “prepare” for her sooner rather than later passing. When it’s finally her time, my sadness won’t be diminished by any degree simply because I have been preparing myself for it for a good while – but there won’t be that feeling of terror mixed with shock mixed with gut-wrenching devastation that comes with, well, any “other kind” of pet death. Most unfortunately, one of my recent experiences has to do with that other kind of death – the terribly tragic and shockingly sudden passing of a friend’s dog. A dog that was young, sweet, friendly, gentle, affectionate and….rescued.

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was in my usual spot in front of my laptop. The semi-silence was broken by blood curdling screams, sounds that made my heart skip 100 beats while my legs raced me to the front window so that I could see what the hell was going on. I could only see a partial view of my neighbor, Laura, running across the street while yelling something I couldn’t quite make out. By this time, several neighbors had also come outside to see what was happening. I stood in the middle of street trying to make sense of what Laura was saying, when it hit me. MAX. Something had happened to Max – she was screaming that Max was dead. But how? Where was he? Why was she saying he got stuck somewhere? What did that mean? I ran into her house to find Max on the floor, surrounded by potato chip pieces and a bag. I kneeled over Max, panicked and crying, trying to figure out what I was seeing. Did he actually suffocate in a potato chip bag??!! In a house that is puppy proofed to the extreme and kept spotless??

It seemed like an eternity passed as I stared into his eyes, while I pushed on his chest and yelled at him to get up . This CANNOT be happening. My brain now knew what I was seeing but the rest of me absolutely refused to believe it. I screamed inside while Laura screamed outside, collapsed on the sidewalk. I knew he was gone, but still thought for a split second that maybe he could be revived. Maybe he hadn’t been gone for that long… maybe there was a chance this sweet boy wasn’t really gone forever.

A neighbor called the nearest Vet Clinic (Ansley) to tell them what happened and that I was on my way with Max. She helped me wrap him in a blanket and get him into my car and I sped – while I wailed – all the way there. I walked into Ansley Animal Hospital and one look at me told them exactly who I was and why I was there. I was still holding onto one droplet of hope that Max could be revived, because how was Laura going to get through this? Max is her life! This is a girl who puts her beloved pet above anything else. This is a girl who has neighbors check in on Max if she is going to be gone from the house for more than a few hours. This is a girl who would sell her house to care for Max, if need be. This is a girl who didn’t deserve to have her pup taken from her at all – much less in such a tragic, freak way. While I stood around crying in between mutters of “no no no no no…,” the compassionate staff of Ansley knew just what to do with Max, and my hysterical self. Sadly, I drove home with an empty blanket and a grieving heart.

For the next week, Laura and I would sit in her house together and just cry. No words were needed, or even wanted, just the company of someone else who could understand the devastation and profound sadness of the situation. Every once in awhile while we sat together crying, Laura would think out loud, “why, why, why…” and the only thing I could think of, was that God needed another angel in Heaven.

in loving memory of Max, 12/2008 – 11/2010

sometimes, prayers really are answered and rescuers are the angels

sometimes, prayers really are answered and rescuers are the angels

My group, Southern Animal Rescue, is regularly, no – constantly – overwhelmed with too many animals in our own homes, because we cannot find enough people willing to foster. On top of that, we get pleas from other rescuers and individuals in dire situations pleading for us to help them, and usually the help they need is for immediate animal placement. Sometimes we can “make” room, sometimes we cannot.
We got wind of a particularly heartbreaking situation, where a rescuer in Dallas, GA is in failing health – as in, stage 3 ovarian cancer – and does not know what will happen to her foster cats once she passes. The hard part in this particular situation is not that we need to find placement for 15 cats (which, don’t get me wrong, is VERY hard) the hard part is that 4 of these cats have FIV, which makes placement for them next to impossible. Believe me I know, I have an FIV+ kitty living in my bedroom. My rescue partner in crime, Leslie, got to work immediately making flyers to post and emails to send – reaching out to rescue contacts all over the US, including FIV Sanctuaries, hoping someone, somewhere, would be able to help. No response from anyone for weeks, and then suddenly a miracle hit her inbox.

“Dear Jen and David,

I’ve learned of your organization through my friend Liz K, who contacted you about her FIV rescue Tink. She was elated when she heard that you had a spot for him!

I just received an appeal yesterday for Bonnie, local cat rescuer who is failing her treatment for Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She has rescued cats for years now in the Dallas, GA area, which has a high kill rate in the local shelters. Word got to me that her battle with cancer is waning. The issue is that she has ~15 cats that will have nowhere to go, as she doesn’t have family here. I’m taking some, am trying to get local groups I know to take some, and have created a flyer (attached and below) that I sent to local cancer survivor groups, hoping that her story would resonate with area adopters.

The big problem is that 4 of her kitties are FIV+. I know you know how ridiculously hard it is to get FIV kitties adopted, and that’s when they’re already in rescue. Bonnie’s time is severely limited, and finding placement for these 4 is going to be really tough and perhaps not possible. If they hit animal control in Dallas, they’ll just be euthanized immediately because of their condition.

You know where I’m headed…I’m writing in somewhat desperation to see if you all have any room in your sanctuary for these 4 kitties. I will personally guarantee a minimum $200 donation for each one, with hopefully more if I can raise more. All 4 are healthy, fixed, vaccinated, etc. 2 of the 4 are best friends with a non-FIV kitty (Sugar) that Bonnie would love to accompany them, but I’m unsure how feasible that is.

I totally understand if you cannot take them – you are already going way above and beyond by running an FIV sanctuary. I would like to do this one day when I have the resources. My heart particularly bleeds for this case because not only is Bonnie going to pass away soon, there is a high chance that her rescue kitties might as well. I know she’s agonizing over their futures, and any peace that I can help bring her regarding their safety and comfort is the least I can do to honor her rescue efforts. Any help that you all can offer, or help us get, would be so immensely appreciated.

Thanks so much for reading, and hope to speak with you soon –

Leslie C”

****

“Leslie,

We are willing to take the kitties that you are trying to place. It is very hard to place FIV cats and we would like to ease Bonnie’s mind during this most difficult time in her life by accepting all five cats.

I will contact you this weekend to discuss the details.

Thanks,

Jen”


Prayers and angels, have created a miracle for a dying rescuer and her rescues. It’s a good day.

the lucky, and the not so lucky

the lucky, and the not so lucky

So yesterday was a reminder of how well things can work in rescue if people collaborate and communicate. The emails go out – usually with a subject line like “FINAL CHANCE! PTS deadline tomorrow, 9/23 in GA! ADOPTABLE DOGS AND PUPPIES” or “LAST CALL FOR HELP: PUREBRED CRUELTY CASE NEEDS RESCUE BY THIS THURSDAY OR SHE WILL DIE” and the forwarding and crossposting like crazy begins.

Usually working against the clock with just mere hours left before the dreaded and all too familiar “deadline” – one or more rescue groups from somewhere in the US says YES we can take that animal. Then the planning and behind the scenes legwork begins.However the most difficult part is over – finding a group or individual rescue person to step up and save a life.

The next step is lining up legs of transportation by volunteers, to get these animals to safety. My leg is usually from the Murray County Shelter (HIGH-kill shelter in Chattsworth, GA) back to Atlanta, or perhaps a little beyond. It’s around 3 hours round trip (not including the time getting paperwork and rounding up the animals at the shelter), and the hand off is usually done in the parking lot of a fast food place or gas station.

It’s one of the most rewarding 3 hours, thinking about how I am saving some lucky furbaby or furbabies from the jaws of death – literally.

lucky pup

lucky pup

lucky pup

lucky pup

But these trips up to a high-kill shelter are also a reminder about what we, as rescuers and animal advocates, are up against – the monumental obstacles of the physical, financial and bureaucratic kind that only allows a few animals – if any at all – out of hundreds, to be saved that week. The physical and financial obstacles are incredibly difficult to navigate through, but the bureaucratic obstacles, such as county and shelter “official” politics are downright impassible. Some counties and areas are worse than others, and some even get significant press for their misdoings and downright criminal behavior. Just a few weeks ago some pups pulled from Murray were transported down to a rescue in Alabama, because that group’s local shelter refuses to work with them. Instead, they would rather kill animals that would otherwise be rescued. How sick is that? Here is a perfect example of the atrocities that are all too common in the rescue world, written by Valerie Hayes of the Atlanta Animal Welfare Examiner. The article is painful to read but incredibly crucial that this experience be exposed, so I am glad my rescuer
friend, Kristin Butler, had the strength to tell it – in order to give a voice to the voiceless.

“The emails go out late at night, with subject headings that describe lives caught in a broken system: “Urgent, these puppies scheduled to die tomorrow”, “Beautiful Maine Coon cat with kittens, last day”, “frightened collie, abuse case, needs you or she dies Wednesday”. They go out relentlessly—day after day, week after week, describing puppies, kittens, senior dogs, cats with colds, purebreds, mixed breeds, abused animals who need a hero, and once-loved family pets who, one way or another, have fallen on hard times and are now coming to the end of their time in a kill shelter. They hint at the stories of lives that will be cut short if not for the network of rescuers who use the internet to conjure up one miracle after another. They pull all-nighters getting the word out through email and Facebook. They ‘crosspost’ pictures and descriptions of the animals in need, and they coordinate the rescue offers that come through, some of which involve transport to another state. It’s a team effort and includes people around the state, the country, even the world. They’re all racing against the clock because they know that a deadline is just that.

The stories hinted at in those emails are those of the rescuers, too—they tell of triumphs—those days when no animal in a particular shelter dies, those stories that turn out right, and end with a successful “pull” when an animal is taken to the safety of a rescue group and can start a new life, but they also tell of relentless stress and a whole lot of heartache—heartache from seeing how the sheltering system treats animals as if they are disposable, heartache from not being to save them all. And it starts all over again tomorrow.

In some places, they know them by numbers, not names. Such is the case in Floyd County Animal Control in Rome, GA, where last week, the stories of 2090, 2070, and his brother 2071 should have been among those with happy endings. They had rescue lined up. Instead, by the time the morning of Wednesday August 25, 2010 was over, they lay dead, along with ten other dogs and a number of cats, including ten six-week-old kittens who also had rescue lined up. Floyd County Animal Control is closed to the public on Wednesdays. That’s when they ‘clean house’—kill all of the animals still in the shelter, and hose it down. To save the lives that could be saved, the official rescue list had to hit shelter manager Jason Broome’s email inbox before the killing started. It was time stamped 4:16 am. The killing starts at 7 am.

When rescuer Kristen Butler arrived between 9:30 and 10 am, the dog she had come to pick up, 2090, was already dead. “He said he never got anything about her having rescue. I stood in front of him and almost threw up! He got the email before he starting putting dogs down.” And he got more than one email stating that those dogs had rescue. “He either read it and didn’t care, or he didn’t care to read it. They are both just as bad. Why would you start killing animals if there was a chance that they got a last minute rescue? It is just wrong! It’s not like he does not know that every Tuesday we pull all-nighters because of his ‘I won’t wait one more minute’ Wednesday rule.”

Of 2090, she says, “She was 8 months old. She was beautiful. She was adopted. The lady had already made a vet appointment. She had a home.” She adds, “It’s even worse for cats. It’s horrible.”

The killing of animals they thought they’d saved was too much for some:

“I am leaving rescue effective this evening!”

“I will never again post for FCAC.”

“My life is utterly devastated and I cannot continue this level of involvement.”

“If everyone stops helping Floyd it will be a blood bath.”

Word of the killing of 2090, 2170 and 2171 spread like wildfire on Facebook. The world is watching this shelter. One person summed up the situation, “It’s so easy to become complacent and discouraged. We need to harness the anger and disgust we feel and turn that into energy that can be used to promote a No Kill Nation. It’s the only way that this is ever going to stop. Nothing else changes – it’s the same cycle of panic, desperate pleas for saving, tears when the ones left behind die and then it starts all over again the next day.”

Again, as always, there are more animals needing adoption or rescue at this shelter. You can see them on Petfinder or in the slideshow below. The adoption fee is $40 for puppies and dogs and $35 for cats and kittens. Wednesday will be too late.

Some rescuers are unwilling to report abuses or to publicly criticize the shelters they pull from, justifiably afraid of losing the ability to save any more animals from death. Delaware recently passed the Companion Animal Protection Act and Georgia, its cities and counties, need to follow suit. CAPA guarantees rescuers the right to rescue, and shelter pets the right to be rescued, rather than killed. The animals, animal rescuers, and animal lovers deserve that much.

Says Butler, “I refuse to look the other way. The madness over there needs to stop. I feel like if I don’t speak out, I will have participated in the deaths of those dogs.”

Broome has issued new rules, more draconian than before—animals must be off the shelter’s premises by 5 pm Tuesday or they will be killed Wednesday morning. No more ‘hold-overs’. The rules and contact information for rescuers wishing to pull from FCAC are available at the volunteer website.

puppy 2090 killed at floyd county animal control

Is this any way to live?

Floyd County Animal Control

431 Mathis Rd.

Rome, GA 30162-0946

Phone: 706-236-4545″

Beyond heartbreaking. Beyond shocking. Beyond disgusting. Beyond terrifying. And not the first time this has happened – and worse, not the last.