Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cold as Arctic Ice in the Middle of Spring (New York City)

(Picture left: "Bobo" --Dumped for the reason of growing "old.")
Very bad news over the past couple of days.

The worst is that the Manhattan dog boarding facility that we have depended upon as a "safety net" for those dogs in emergency situations has elected to "rent out" the space formerly used to house rescued dogs. This is mostly a financial decision, but it will impact greatly and negatively on our ability to rescue new dogs or even be able to "take back" on a dime's notice, any of our previously rescued foster or adopted dogs.

I am personally very distressed about this occurrence. We spent thousands of dollars over the past few months boarding dogs who did not yet have foster or adoptive homes. We were very responsible in paying our bills on time, overseeing the welfare of our dogs, walking them and eventually placing them in adoptive homes.

Already we are feeling the negative and far reaching affects of this event:

I found out about the unexpected decision very suddenly when calling the boarding facility the other day to send two newly rescued dogs in for boarding.

It was like having the rug pulled out from under us -- and the animals.

I then had to call Joanne at the Staten Island Animal Control shelter to inform her that we could not in fact, immediately take the two dogs (A Chow and a Chow/Jindo mix) as we had promised. Both dogs faced euthanasia, as the shelter was "packed" and both dogs had already been there a week.

Since then, Sarah (one of our most reliable volunteers) has offered to foster the black Chow Chow. But, I don't have anyone for the Jindo mix and just did emergency postings on Petfinders and other adoption sites begging for "emergency foster" for the pretty and sweet tempered, mixed breed, reddish dog.

Both dogs are estimated to be about 7-years-old, in reasonably good condition and were dumped at the shelter by a man who didn't bother giving explanation for why he was abandoning his dogs. Instead, the man claimed the dogs were "strays" he just "found" --presumably as a way of getting out of paying the "Owner Surrender Fees" required for all pets abandoned by owners.

If all of this wasn't bad enough, on Thursday, it seemed we were very lucky to find a foster family for an older mixed breed dog at the Manhattan shelter who had become a volunteer favorite due to her loving, devoted and gentle temperament and personality.

But, one day after bringing "Bobo" home, "Kate" (the foster person) called to tell me that she wanted to return Bobo to Animal Control immediately because her family "didn't want to become attached" to the older dog who "might not be easy to adopt" and/or could "die" on them.

I was extremely disheartened, but not necessarily surprised by the call.

I had significant reservations about this "foster" due to the fact, the woman in the family is undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. That can be tricky for numerous reasons.

Although Kate swore to me she was feeling "good," would be through with the chemo treatments in a month or two, had a good prognosis and that her family "really wants to adopt a dog" I was skeptical due to the fact the family had never had a dog and we have already had negative outcomes in situations like these.

Nevertheless, Bobo was facing certain death at Animal Control especially as she had then come down with Kennel Cough in the shelter. One needed to be willing to take a "risk" if wanting to save the older Shepherd/Cattle dog mix.

I suggested to Kate that she should foster a dog first and that the dog should be an "older and easy to care for dog."

Bobo seemed to perfectly fit the bill as she was older (about 8 to 10 years), already trained, extremely sweet, gentle and loving and easy to walk.

When meeting Bobo on Thursday, Kate seemed very pleased with Bobo (who licked Kate's face) but expressed "concerns" about the dog's age.

I assured Kate, she would only be taking Bobo as a foster and it would be my job to find an adoptive home for the dog.

"How long will that take?" Kate asked.

"Well, it is hard to say," I answered honestly. "Most fosters are about a month or two. But, these are weird times right now with the poor economy. It could take longer, particularly because Bobo is an older dog. Still, we just adopted out a 10-year-old dog a few weeks back. Its certainly not impossible!"

Kate assured me she was up for the foster and enthusiastically called her family (a husband and two teenagers) to verify the arrangement.

Kate asked me what would happen if the foster didn't work out. "Can we bring her back to you?" (This is usually a very bad sign when asked by fosters or adopters as it shows the person is already thinking negatively about worst case scenarios.)

I assured Kate that, as per our foster contract, animals can always be returned although now without reliable and affordable boarding to send a dog to, the dog would most likely have to go back to Animal Control where she would likely face destruction.

"If given sufficient notice however," I added optimistically, "we would certainly do our best to find other foster or placement for Bobo! Please call me with any questions or problems."

I thought I had sufficiently prepared and gone over everything with Kate before she left with Bobo on Thursday. Nevertheless, I didn't have that "great feeling" about this particular foster placement when finally saying good-bye to Kate on Third Ave and 110th Street, a few blocks from the shelter.

I in fact, was worried about it.

Sure enough, when I got the call from Kate yesterday, I was distressed, but not necessarily surprised.

I begged Kate to please hold on to the dog for at least a few days -- give me time to try and find another foster. After all, it was not like the dog bit or attacked someone in the family or was lunging at other people or dogs on the street! On the contrary, (according to Kate) Bobo had been a model dog.

But, Kate was adamant on returning Bobo "immediately."

"She's an old dog and my family does not want to get attached to her," Kate said as coldly as to keep the Artic ice flows hard as steel. "We don't want a dog dying on us in a month or a year!"

For someone undergoing chemo treatment for an aggressive form of cancer, I found that a odd thing for Kate to say. How would she, after all, like it were her family to abandon her because she "might die on them?"

The fact is, any person or animal can "die" at any time. No one has guarantees in life.

Finally realizing I was getting nowhere with this hard as coal witch (sorry to say that about a cancer victim), I finally said, "whatever" and basically hung up on Kate.

It was an incredibly cruel thing to do to both an animal and even the rescue that had spent so much time with Kate and entrusted her to at least keep her word. (i.e care for the dog until Bobo could either be placed with someone else or adopted directly by the foster family.)

Last night I spoke with and apologized to Evelyne, the volunteer who had cared so much for Bobo and to whom the dog deeply attached.

Evelyne informed me that Bobo was "very stressed" having just been dumped back at the shelter again. "Maybe we have to let her go," Evelyne added despondently.

"Well, I requested Kim to give us a couple of days to try and find something else for Bobo" I replied kind of half-heartedly.

Yes, it was hard to be "optimistic" about anything right now.

Especially after having the "rug pulled out" from under us in terms of emergency boarding to send instantly discarded dogs to.

It's sometimes a cruel world out there and Kate reflected all of that in those "She's too old!" and "might die" words.

We all get "old" and we will all "die" some day.

Does that give society -- or anyone -- the right to throw us out and say, "F*^& you!"?

Apparently, to some people, it does. -- PCA


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