You can't save every homeless dog, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.Those are my words and how I try to frame my rescue efforts. In the last year I've learned that there are a lot of people out there giving their all to decrease the overall number of companion animals euthanized every year from where it currently stands at 3-4 million dogs and cats.
Think about this for a moment. Three to four million animals are put to death for being homeless and their being insufficient resources (homes, funds, medical care) to take care of them. Somewhere along the lines their owners have failed them. In many cases, it is the unadoptable dog (or cat) that shoulders the lion's share of the burden by not being adopted or even highlighted by rescue organizations.
In my experience, even shelters that proclaim that they don't put adoptable animals down, feel that they have no choice but to relieve themselves of the following when resources are low to make room for pets that they hope they can save:
- Seniors - those typically over 7 years old
- Sick and injured - Including those that could be cured with less than $100 treatment.
- Less than all of their original working parts - Three legs, one-eyed, no eyes, scarred
- Blind and/or deaf - Still perfectly capable of finding their way around with minimal help or just need someone to put the time in to help them retrain their other senses.
- Behavior problems - Sitting confused in the confines of a dim shelter for days, weeks, or months on end is equivalent to what a prisoner of war would expect in the worst parts of the world and yet we assume that a cold hard floor and only the chance at human contact once per day is enough to keep these animals sane.
These conditions are not fatal and can be treated in many cases, when you:
- Take the opportunity to slow down and see the world at your senior dog's speed.
- Invest in your companion's health and training so they can show you what they are like at their best.
- Work with them on their challenges as an opportunity to reap the benefits of forging a deeper bond with them.
The next time your out looking for a new pet, don't worry if it's going to fit in your purse, what others will think, or how long it has left. Think about: the difference you'll make, what type of dog you can best provide for, and most important which dog wants to be yours the most.