over the years one of the oft times most repeated question that people ask is...
"if you spend 5 or 10 thousand dollars fixing one animal..how many other animals could you have saved with that money instead?"
that's a hard question to answer....if each dog needed $1000 in medical care, then i guess you could save 5 or 10. but if the dogs didn't need much at all...well then i guess you could save many.
however...(there is always a however...)
when an animal seeks help here...we pretty much look at one single thing...can we manage whatever issues the animal brings?
if our answer is yes..then the animal comes in.
our responsibility is to the animals in our care...not to the many who may or may not seek our assistance in the future.
so when miley wracked up $15,000 and brat wracked up $16,000 in medical bills in less than a year, each with multiple specialized surgeries, it was our responsibility to pay their bills. some animals just cost us a general blood panel, a neuter and a dental...others end up with meds, diagnostics, and occasionally surgeries that can cost A LOT of money to help them feel well again.
if we blow our medical budget and can't afford to take in new animals because we just broke the bank on animal x and we can't afford to add more costs to our vet bills (and this has happened a few times in the past) then we do put a hold on admissions until we get caught up again. saints is never empty...we run at full capacity almost constantly. the few times we let our numbers go down a bit to give us both a financial and emotional break...we still never drop our numbers below 100 on site and 50 or 60 still out in permanent foster care. so we still are caring for many even if we have temporarily closed admissions to more.
so my point is this...the animal standing in front of us needing help..is not responsible for those who may come later. he deserves an answer from us based on what he needs, what we are able to do, not because we are hedging our bets just in case more "less" expensive animals may show up at our gate some day soon.
from day one of doing rescue, so very many years ago..i pledged that our decision making regarding our animals' wellbeing would not be dictated by a dollar sign. our decision making is based on the animal's needs, the animal's quality of life, the medically reasonable outcome expectation.... a blind dog will see, a paralyzed dog will walk, a cat with a mouthful of abscessed teeth will soon be pain free. that's how we make decisions..not on what if 10 more need us, or how many slices should this pie be expected to feed. decisions are based on what that animal, currently in our care at this particular moment, currently needs and are we currently able to meet those needs?
maybe life would be easier and less stressful for us if we did place a dollar limit on each animal's care but i don't think we got into rescue to do what was easy..i think all of us get here to do what's right for each individual animal in meeting each animal's unique set of needs.
animals live in today...if they are in pain, in distress, in need today..then our job is to remove that pain, reduce that distress, meet their need today..not to make excuses based on what may or may not happen to others in need in some imaginary future.
plus on the practical side of this back and forth argument...we don't have space for 10 more anyway...it's a moot point. whether we help that expensive animal or not...10 "cheaper" others will not able to fit into that single/solo space.
we may rescue many in the long run, but in reality...we rescue them one by one, individually.
My husband and I donate a modest monthly amount to SAINTS, and have done for years, because we admire the steadfast commitment of Carol and her staff and volunteers so very much. A few years back, Carol posted about an incoming dog, saying the surgery costs for that pet were so sky high, it was the first time she questioned whether or not to proceed. I recall being astonished that this was the first time she'd questioned the extreme expense of one animal's care, especially given the advanced years of most of their wards. Her comment made me question our ongoing support but when I examined it further, I came to the conclusion that either I trust the judgement of the experts or I don't, either I support the priorities of the people who actually do the work or I backseat drive and slow their row. So we'll continue to support SAINTS as long as we're able to, trusting the leadership and their vision. It makes us feel so good to play even a small part in supporting the efforts of those who work so tirelessly to better the lives of homeless pets. Well done everyone!