I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve stayed up late sharing links to pictures of dogs in shelters with rescues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve
cried sobbed hysterically over the dogs that I can’t save. The perfect, healthy, friendly, adorable dogs that are in the shelters due to no fault of their own. I can’t tell you how much it BREAKS MY HEART to know that I can’t save them all. Hell, some days I can’t even save the ones I desperately am trying to. So tonight, when I was berated by someone about how I shouldn’t share pictures of dogs who are on the “euth list” at the local shelter if I’m not able to save them, it took everything I had to keep my cool.
I run social media accounts for a local rescue and I VOLUNTEER my time to share details of dogs in need of fosters, to make sure I include pictures and whether they are kid and pet friendly. I respond to every message we get. I share details on how to get in touch for anyone who wants to foster, adopt, volunteer on the weekends. I control the messages on the site but that’s it. I don’t control the dogs that the rescues choose to pull. I don’t control the adoption process. I don’t control anything but social media. But I can tell you this…
In order to save a dog’s life, fosters are needed. A foster home is not a permanent home for the dog. A foster home for a dog is similar to a foster home for a child. You provide shelter, love and attention. The rescue will provide food, collar/leash, crates, and any other necessities. The rescue will cover the vetting of the dog. If you can’t transport the dog to the vet appointments or adoption events on weekends, most rescues will have other volunteers that can assist. But without foster homes, dogs can’t be saved. Most rescues do not have shelters of their own and therefore, they rely on volunteers who will open their homes and save a life.
I can also tell you that all that money you think rescues are making from adoptions, doesn’t even begin to cover their expenses. The average, healthy puppy would cost you around $500 to get vetted through it’s puppy shots and spay/neuter. However, puppies that come from shelters often have kennel cough, or worse, parvovirus or heart worm. Both of which are incredibly expensive to treat. Heart worm treatment can be $500 alone. Parvo, even if treated, is still sometimes deadly. So sometimes, rescues make the call not to pull those dogs that are heart worm positive, have tumors, have parvo, or whatever disease/issue it may be because they simply don’t have the funds. Adoption fees and donations help. Rescues are run by volunteers who spend more time than you could ever imagine working hard to save dogs from high-kill shelters and bad situations (neglect, hoarding, fighting, puppy mills).
And for those of you who say you couldn’t go in the shelter… I understand, BUT DO IT ANYWAY. Go visit your local shelter. Take pictures. Take videos. Volunteer. Walk the dogs. Reach out to rescues and tell them how the dogs are on a leash, with people, with other dogs/cats/kids. Help with adoption events. Ignorance may be bliss, but I promise it’s much more blissful when you get a response from a rescue saying that they’ll help. Or your video of a broken down dog gets 1900 views in less than 12 hours and people are begging to foster that dog. It is so much more blissful to know that you helped, however little it was, to save a life.
“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert Schuller
I must have shared thousands of dog posts over the past couple years. And begged my husband to let me foster/adopt half of them. And now that I have the lovely TimeHop app, I get reminders of the ones that were saved and the ones that weren’t. Did you know that some shelters have folders for pictures of the dogs that didn’t make it out? It’s heart-wrenching. It’s a powerful reminder that you can’t save them all. BUT, there’s also an album full of pictures of the ones who were saved. And hopefully, there are a lot more pictures in that album than the other. (Gaston County Animal Shelter is a high-kill shelter in rural NC (outside of Charlotte, NC). And while they have made GREAT strides over the past few years, there are still too many GOOD dogs being put to sleep). Cumberland, Rowan and Union County are all high-kill shelters, too. They all need more people to get the word out.
So, I won’t apologize for the Facebook news feeds that I’ve blown up with pictures of sad puppies in the shelter. I won’t apologize for begging for fosters. I won’t apologize for bashing buying from breeders and pet stores. There are thousands of dogs dying in shelters EVERY DAY. Don’t get angry at the people who are working their asses off to save lives day in and day out. I’m sorry that we might not be able to save that dog. Trust me, it hurts my heart, too. I shared the picture to TRY to help that dog. I shared the picture in hopes someone would want to adopt. That a rescue would want to pull her. But not so you could tell me how wrong it was that I shared her picture in the first place. At least I did something.
Want to help? Research local rescues or shelters in your area and ask them what you can do. Pictures, transport, foster, helping at adoption events. You can’t make a difference by sitting on your ass and wishing. Do something. Anything. Every little bit helps. Even if it’s just a “like” and a “share” on a Facebook picture. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS.