Don’t Believe the Hype! Diary of a Dog Rescuer
When everyone calls you an ‘Angel’ in rescue, it’s easy to believe your own hype. Thankfully, I’m British, so my delusions of lofty sainthood are mitigated by a earthy dose of pessimistic self hatred. Still, that doesn’t stop me being judgmental of others. Yes, a flaw favoured worldwide – but in rescue, embraced by angels and self loathers alike. It is something I have to work on constantly. Like constantly referring to people ‘dumping’ their dogs at the shelter. I did it recently, when this 11 year-old bulldog came to Road Dogs & Rescue after he was ‘owner surrendered’ for having medical issues.
I didn’t need to get on my high horse, as I’d been riding it for a while. “How could they do that? Blah. Blah. Blah.” I posted indignantly. Others called the former owners “evil” and practically demanded their heads on a plate.
Of course there are ignorant Pigwits who dump dogs at the shelter pretending they found them as a stray. But for a lot of people, it’s their only option. Sometimes they just don’t know there’s any alternative. Especially if they are low income or lacking education and resources.
So when your pet is sick and you don’t have any money, what else are you to do?! It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible pet parent. It just means that you’re desperate. That’s why programs such as the South LA Intervention Program should be at every shelter (Link to article) Their solution – gasp – is to actually help people.
Along with spaying/neutering and educating, Shelter Interventions are becoming one of the most valuable ways to stop animals entering the shelter system. It took someone commenting on my rescue page to remind me that perhaps this dog wasn’t dumped. That’s true. (And if applicable in this case, I just wish they had taken better care of him during his 11 years.)
“There but for the grace of god go I,” goes the saying. It’s a good one. Even if you don’t believe in God. It simply reminds us that we’re not not infallible. That all humans are equal when it comes to Shit Happens and making mistakes.
I made one this week by not paying full attention when a dog was being dropped off. The gate was left unsecured and at some point, another rescue – wily senior Chihuahua, Lily – slipped out.
Having a dog get out of a yard is practically a mortal sin in rescue. Yet, it happened. Thankfully, she was wearing a tag and was found a few streets away a couple of hours later. Wow old dogs can travel fast! Ironically, one of the thoughts that crossed my mind was that people would think I’m a bad rescuer. But I know I’m not. I’m just human. And humans make mistakes. The key is to learn from them. Or teach from them. I hope I can do both.