It’s not always puppies and rainbows

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.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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“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.

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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.

Saving Stella

On Friday, I decided to meet my old neighbor at Char-Meck Animal Control to check out a dog she wanted. That was probably mistake #1. Animal control is a bad place for me to go for a number of reasons: 1) I will inevitably leave crying (which happened); 2) I will want to adopt/save all of the dogs – and won’t be able to(which happened); 3: I will feel helpless (which happened).

I walked through the kennels and let the dogs sniff/lick my hands, all while my heart was breaking. I did a pretty good job of holding it together until I met Stella. She couldn’t make eye contact with me. She looked like she was ashamed of being there. Hopeless. Lost. Confused.  Sad. Her eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. I lost it right there.

I made another loop through the kennels, falling in love with Casper, the white boxer, Cooper the small shepherd mix, Jimmy, the border collie, Choppa, the big bully mix and Calley, an adorable pointer mix (all pictured above). I stopped to talk to Stella again. I wanted to hug her and tell her it would be alright. She leaned into the kennel to let me touch her as I sobbed about the situation these dogs were in. I promised her I would do all that I could for her and I would be back. That was a big promise, especially for a dog that I knew nothing about. I had no idea how she was with kids, dogs or cats. She wasn’t overly friendly. She wasn’t a puppy. She was a pit bull, for Christ’s sake. I got it together long enough to walk back through animal control, past the officers and then sobbed all the way home. Falling into my husband’s arms when I walked into the door and mumbling some non-sense about quitting my job to save dogs full time.

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I posted the video publicly on Facebook and asked friends and family to share her story far and wide. I tagged my friend, Laura, who founded a foster non-profit in Charlotte, (Dog Days of Charlotte) who I know loves pit bulls and she immediately started helping me find rescues to save Stella. We had a rescue (Catering to Cats and Dogs) within half an hour of posting and then we just needed a foster and/or donations for medical care. Some incredibly generous soul donated $160 right away. While a wonderful lady volunteered to foster and/or adopt Stella. We worked until about 11 PM solidifying details and once the plan was set, I cried some more. We were going to get this sweet girl out!

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On Saturday, my husband and I drove to animal control and busted Stella out. I had prepped him that I had no idea how she would be out of the kennel. I told the foster she would probably need a few days to decompress in a quiet place and realize she was safe before introducing to other dogs/kids. She probably wouldn’t want to give attention or play much those first few days. And then she came out, and she was… amazing.

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She gave us hugs and kisses. She took treats gently and let us put the collar and leash on her with no issue. She even played with the leash for a minute. She walked happily out of AC and hopped in the car and I swear she knew she was free.

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She took lots of opportunities to give us more kisses and rest her head on us. I may or may not have cried a million more times.

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We stopped at Petco to grab something from the rescue and let a few gals meet her and I grabbed her a stuffed squeaky toy and a bone to take to her foster’s house. She LOVED her toy.

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She was super sweet when meeting her foster family (and they hope to adopt her, too!). She was gentle with the kids, and didn’t want to put her toy down. The hardest part was saying goodbye. She kept pulling on her leash to come with us, which made me run back and hug her a few more times and tell her to be a good girl. We waved from the window and then drove off and as soon as we were driving, she turned and walked happily with her new family into their home. And yes, I cried again. Happy tears, though. I am so grateful for everyone that helped save her and that she will now live a happy life. I encourage everyone to check out your local shelter or rescues and adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders. There are a million dogs like Stella out there.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison

Also, I know spending the morning at Animal Control, saving dogs, transporting, stopping by an adoption event and meeting fosters wasn’t my husband’s idea of a great Valentine’s day, but to me, it was perfect. I’m so glad he was with me for all of those moments yesterday. I think Stella was glad he was there, too. ❤

Find these amazing rescues on social media: 

Dog Days of Charlotte: Facebook and Twitter

Catering to Cats and Dogs: Facebook and Twitter

Happy tails!

I had a different post planned for today but my heart is being pulled in a different direction. I’ve said it before but dogs are my passion; they have been ever since I was little and I had a gazillion stuffed animals, wanted to adopt all of the puppies at the pound and had long lists of names for my future dogs. My husband somewhat understands this, although is also somewhat annoyed by the number of dogs (and frequency of which) I share on Facebook that need to be rescued.

In more recent times, I’ve been able to volunteer with various rescue groups and foster, help at adoption events or handle social media platforms for them. All of this helps, but my heart still wants to do more. I recently made a new friend who had her heart strings pulled on one night by this guy who was stuck at Gaston County Animal Control. His owner left him locked in an apartment after moving out and the landlord found him (no idea on how long he was there).

roo 1In the shelter, he was frightened and bothered by all of the barking. He cowered when she went to pet him. No rescues were stepping up for this guy, but a rescue without their 501 (c) said they could help if she would get him and foster him for a few weeks. This was his first day out of the shelter.

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And it’s only gotten better from there. He walks well on a leash, stays in his crate and is working on house training. She sent me this picture today of him cuddling with her 1-year old rescue dog.

RooThis boy just needed a second chance. He needed to know that he wasn’t going to be locked away alone, or shoved in a kennel with 50 other scared dogs. He needed to know love, and that he would be fed and would have a warm bed. He needed a friend to play with (and cuddle with).
roo3He looks like a totally different dog than the one who was hours away from dying at the shelter. There are MILLIONS others like him. If you’re in the market for a new dog, adopt. There are puppies, there are “teenage” dogs (those between 1-4 years old), and there are seniors. There are house-trained, crate-trained dogs. There are purebred dogs (over 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred). And if you don’t want to go to the shelter, look at local rescues.
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If you’re interested in adopting “Roo,” you can email takenbysarah@gmail.com for more info or to meet this sweet pup.