Rescue folks can get a bit grouchy this time of year when their foster homes are all full, the kill shelters are all full, and then an owner calls wanting someone to take their dog. We are no exception to that, and over the years we have taken in dozens of dogs directly from the previous owners.
As rescuers, we all agree that we can’t imagine a situation that would force us to give up what we feel is a member of our family. So much of our lives are geared around our dogs; the dogs we rescue and place in permanent homes, and in the case of our sanctuary and many others, the dogs we agree to give a home to while they live out their lives. We make every effort to keep our disapproval to ourselves because our goal is to get each dog into a safe environment.
Some of the stories we hear from owners break our hearts because we feel they are not valuing their dogs by the same standards that we adhere to. I’ve been told many times that an old dog has grown aggressive. All too often those dogs are overweight and suffering from joint or back pain. I’ve stood in the rain in an empty parking lot while an owner explained that they don’t have time to fool with an ill or special needs dog. I’ve listened while numerous people explained to me that they can’t have a dog that they can’t house train ruining their home. I’ve had owners tell me that they couldn’t possibly spend the money to board a dog while they take an extended vacation. And one of the most common stories we hear is that the owners are moving and can’t take the dog.
As with most situations there is another side to this problem. I’ve consoled owners that are suffering with their decision to give up their beloved pet. Life can throw us all curve balls from time to time and unfortunately this can mean that the “family” can’t stay together. A lady going into the service with no family member or support team to care for her precious baby, older couples who cannot physically or financially care for a dog they have loved for years, and family members who have inherited a dog that simply will not thrive in their homes are all people who have been forced to make a decision that most of us will never face. The last thing they need is the disdain of a rescuer that has not walked in their shoes.
I’m sure most rescuers are like me and they try to remember that we don’t know all the circumstances that have brought someone to the point of turning over a dog. We take all the dogs in that we can possibly care for or place for adoption, and we tell ourselves that no matter the previous situation we are working to secure safety and continuous care for the dogs.
All of the dogs pictured on this page, and many more, came to our sanctuary as owner turn-ins. Once they are here, their past lives fade in my memory. Rick and I work as hard as we can to deal with the baggage that comes with a frightened or ill dog. We try to integrate them into our pack, or find them a permanent home elsewhere. They are not responsible for the devastation that they often feel, and it is our jobs to deal with them, not their owners.
We can all agree that when someone makes an effort to find a rescue organization for their dog, they have done so much more than many people do. These dogs have a good chance at a wonderful life, and that’s what we all want in the end.