Rescue Journal

another reality of rescue.

Alison  ·  Feb. 4, 2007

i was having an email conversation today that many of the younger seniors, the 9-10-11 years old are at risk to be euth'd in shelters too (i consider these guys to be middle aged), they are still difficult to adopt, no one wants them and when space becomes an issue the least adoptable are the ones that have to move. i look at the reality of sheltering bill, at 10 yrs old on admission, and 7 years later, still unadopted because for 7 years he is still too old and close to the end. and here he is, he is still taking up space, along with lexie, and copper, and andy, and trev, and cole too. younger senior dogs unadoptable due to age or issue but living here, happy and greatly loved year after year. and for every year they live here, taking up space from those who cannot get in.

theoretically, if the average life span of the extreme sick, and truly palliative seniors is 6-12 months..if i had turned bill away, 7-14 more dogs could have come in, add in the other young seniors for each year they can expect to be here, and we are looking at another 60-100 animals that could have been taken in at saints.

and i have 2 minds about this...

one is: a life is a life, it has value no matter the actual total of years lived, and two there are many other groups that take in adoptable dogs (along with the occasional unadoptable one) but there are none except us that focus on primarily unadoptable, extreme senior or sick animals only.

and so i get conflicted. i think of dogs like rocky, at shelters and at risk, who to me are highly adoptable. a little bit worn around the edges, and a bit battered by life here and there, but still pretty darn good when you compare them to the jack's and cedric's and dexter's of the world. but the reality is, what ever i think, they don't always make it out alive. because if no one wants them, what exactly are the shelter staff to do?

i tried to explain this, that the young seniors are often even more at risk then the truly old. because the truly old will always have a place here if the staff call me, but not if i fill up the building for years with the ones with a good, long life line ahead.

i look at lexie, and bill and i think, oh my god, if i was called on you now, as you were then when i took you, well, now i would have turned and reluctantly walked away. and they wouldn't be here, and i wouldn't know them, and since they have never had a serious adopter in many long years, despite how good they were back then, they wouldn't have made it out maybe, and how terrible a thought is that?

and the conflict continues because if i let saints fill up with the 10 and 11 year olds who could well live for another 6 or 7 years, what happens to the ones that are 16, 17 or 18 now?

people have called me or write to me and ask me to help them find a really, old, sick, and abused senior to rescue. they want that big story, that saddest of tale, they want that poor, poor sad dog on death row to save, but what about the others, the ones not so heart wrenching. the plain janes, the 10 year old rotti and shepherd crosses with no huge tears to shed. they sit there and wait til their time is all gone and when they pass, it is a moment of sadness for those who are there. until the next one. there they sit, day after day, they sit and wait without rescue, their story not moving enough, not sensational enough, a face not cute enough, a body not remarkable enough to make us feel enough to save them.

i should have brought rocky home. i can't forget that i just walked away. i hate this sometimes, if i go back, who will i next turn away? mandates are here to keep us focused, to ensure we do what we set out to do. but sometimes mandates are bad things, they cripple us because mandates aren't bodies, and hearts, and lonely eyes, they aren't hopelessness that can turn into faith.




This is a truly beautiful post and I know exactly what you are saying. It's so true about "they sit and wait without rescue, their story not moving enough, not sensational enough, a face not cute enough, a body not remarkable enough to make us feel enough to save them".
It seems that people either lean towards the crippled and disabled or they want puppies. There seems to be no place for those in between. I wonder how we raise awareness about these dogs? There almost needs to be a charity called the "Home for the Humdrum Hounds".
At any rate, you should never regret the decisions you have made. There are never easy answers; you have given so much to so many and each and every one of your charges has a precious life that can never be weighed on some mystical "Worth" scale. You'll drive yourself batty with those calculations. :-)
And your point about mandates is well is so difficult to run a charity from the heart.