Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rough week

There's so much good going on out there that I hate to be bleak but I have to admit that my Sunday trip down to Animal Welfare League's Intake Facility left me feeling low and frustrated, if not downright angry! It's been a rough week in general around here so I guess my spirits were a bit low to begin with and you have to be tough at the best of times down there. It's been said many times before but the shelter manager, Diane, is an absolute saint for dealing with this day in day out.

I know I'm preaching to the converted here, most of my readers understand the value of spay and neuter, of thinking before you bring a pet into your home, of adopting rather than buying from a puppy mill or a backyard breeder. With all the information readily available to the public how are there still so many idiots out there? I mean, how much do people pay to get a dog like this from a breeder, $300, $500, $1000, more?

Apparently this guy is someone's trash. I didn't even have the heart to find out whether or not he's slated to be pulled or if he'll be dead before the next volunteer day rolls around.

I usually come away from these events concentrating on the positive. Many dogs were pulled into rescue, all had a chance to be loved and petted, bathed where necessary and fed up on meatballs and I even got to meet a lovely new volunteer who agreed to become a foster home for One Tail!

But this one was rough. Dogs in my Car already put up a great post so I'll direct you to her for a round up of the day. I hesitated to share the following story but it's something we should all face up to and maybe someone will be spurred to action because of it. The story and photos are posted on facebook here but I don't know whether you need to have an account to read it so I've copied the text:
"Yesterday was the Animal Welfare League's Intake facility's volunteer day sponsored by the Trio Animal Foundation.
Unfortunately, the day wasn't without heartbreak. A volunteer day such as yesterday is rare but there were many TAF volunteers that stepped up to the plate and helped out with some very hard situations. One of these situations is told by one of our invaluable volunteers Tara.
"Yesterday was Volunteer Day at AWL Intake, and as usual, there were wonderful dogs everywhere you looked. I went into the kennel area to start walking some dogs, and right away this big white boy caught my eye because I was sure my vision was deceiving me. But sure enough, I was looking at a Dogo Argentino, a rare type of Mastiff. When I expressed my amazement at seeing this type of dog in a shelter, I was told that there were several more, all brought in together. I knew a backyard breeder had to be behind this, and wondered what shape the others were in.
When I went outside, I saw what I feared: one of the other Dogos, likely the sister of the one I was walking, was in one of the dog runs. She did not move. She did not eat. She did not respond. She lay there, her face and head a constant flutter of twitches and tics.
It was clear that there was something terribly wrong with this poor girl, and it made many of the volunteers emotional just to look at her. I made a silent promise to give her some love before I left, as it was made clear that she would be humanely euthanized at the end of the day.
Her brother and I stayed out in the yard together for quite awhile. I tried to engage him with a tennis ball; I tried to get him to run, but he let me know what he really wanted when he arose on his hind legs and put his front paws on my shoulders, placing me in a bear hug. He did this repeatedly, and so we went inside to the lobby and spent most of our time cuddling. Everyone was amazed at how well behaved this boy was! Mastiffs are wonderful animals, but they are usually only for an experienced dog person, as they can be quite dominant. This dominance often makes them best as an only dog. This boy was in the lobby all afternoon, mostly with very small breeds, and had ZERO reaction to the other dogs. As far as he was concerned, all that existed was the people showering him with attention and giving him treats, which he took gently and appreciatively.
While in the lobby, AWL's shelter manager -the INCREDIBLE Diane- told me that this big guy was deaf, and that in addition to his sister out back, there were 3 others he came in with, two of whom had to be humanely euthanized immediately due to their extremely poor condition.
She concurred that this was a great dog and we had to try and get at least one of these poor victims of a backyard breeder out of there.
So Diane, Jill of Trio, and myself all held him down for a heartworm test. It was hard to find his vein, but although he must have been needle pricked about 5 times, he never reacted with anything but his typical sweetness. It was such a relief that his test was negative, and we went back to the important stuff: SNUGGLING!
After several hours of this, the day was drawing to a close, and I hadn't forgotten my silent promise. So the big boy and I went in the back yard where his sister was. The amazing Kelly (mother of Fifty the 2-legged pit bull) had spent most of her afternoon massaging this sweet girl, making her last day a good one. I had planned on going in there alone, but I couldn't deny this amazing boy and this poor girl this chance. So although it is not the usual policy, I brought him into the run with the female so he and his sister could say their final goodbyes. Kelly and I could not keep dry eyes as he walked up to his sister. She actually raised her head when she saw him, and then they were nose to nose. We felt something powerful and unspoken pass between these sibling dogs in their last kiss, and as we cried, the male dog turned for the door of the run. His work was done.
Another amazing example of a dog's ability to live in the moment -and the resilience that that provides them.
I still can't get this out of my mind, and I probably never will. It was one of the saddest -yet simultaneously most beautiful- things I have ever witnessed. But it is time to take a cue from this amazing big boy and live in the moment. And right now, we MUST save him."
Currently, Animal Welfare league's Intake facility has a very large female and the large male that you heard about in the Tara's story.
The Dogo Argentino Rescue Group has sent their representatives out to look at the dogs but they currently do not have any foster homes available. 
I have personally witnessed at the shelter, more times than not, that large breed dogs do not do well at the shelter for long periods of time. These two have already been at the shelter for about 3 weeks now. If you are a shelter with your 501(c)(3) or your Dept. of Agriculture license, please consider pulling one of these dogs. Diane from the Animal Welfare League's Intake facility can be reached at 773-667-0088 for more information.
Jill and I would like to thank everybody that sat with the sick girl yesterday as she passed. Even though it was gut wrenching, everybody stood by her side so that she was not alone. Even sedated, her poor face twitched until she passed. In passing, she finally found peace. Please share this post so that we can help the remaining pair.  -Sue

This is the surviving girl mentioned in the post. Though I missed getting a picture of it, she stood up and had her paws wrapped around this volunteer's neck to give endless kisses and it was the dearest thing.

If you're a Chicagoan there really isn't a volunteer opportunity in the city that allows you to make a greater difference than this when it comes to dogs. No, we can't save them all (YET) but, whether they make it out of there or not, they all had something to smile about for a day.


  1. This was a really important and meaningful post. Thanks for all you do...


  2. heartbreaking...I realize that it's easy for me to hide behind my donations instead of volunteering for things like this. when I was involved in rescue, I was the worst and most emotional when it came to situations where a dog suffered in any way. I cannot thank you guys enough for having the courage I lack.


  3. What a saddening post-- it is so hard to go to the shelter when you know what will happen to most of the large-breed dogs. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. It was a really hard day for everyone. It's sometimes hard to pick up and move on after that, but I'm glad that you and the rest of our foster homes are able to do so.

    I'm just trying to chug along to Sunday when we get those puppy mill rescues!

    FYI- your video of the lab is 'private' so I couldn't see it. But I spent some time in the kennel with that boy and he is going to need a very patient owner! Sue mentioned that Midwest Lab owes her a favor, so paws crossed for that dude.

  5. I was there, too. All of the Dogos broke my heart a little, but she was devastating. At least her last afternoon was as good an experience as she'd probably ever had, sweet girl.

    On another note, I was just saying to someone last night that there are very few volunteer events that allow you to walk away knowing that you've made a difference in a really important way - this is one of them. The change in attitude in some of the dogs was amazing. The permission volunteers have to just spend the time holding a dog who needs it, the volunteers' willingness to do the big and small things that just need to be done, being able to watch some dogs walk out the door with a rescue rep - it was all pretty phenomenal.

  6. I'm a PRC adopter and was at AWL that day and spent time with one of the Dogos. I've been wondering what happened and your post is really wonderful. They are awesome dogs and that was a really wrenching experience. Thank you,


  7. you guys do such amazing work. this post left me with a lump in my throat. thank you.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...