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Sunday, August 30, 2009

All across America

I inferred a few blogs ago that every weekend amazing things transpire that rescue hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs all over the country. This was something I was completely unaware of until I moved to Iowa. In this country there are areas that are more overwhelmed with pet overpopulation than others. The south and midwest seem to suffer. Don't take that the wrong way, the problem is significant everywhere! Everywhere in the US, dogs and cats are put down simply for not having a home to go incurable illness, no severe behavior problems, healthy with no where to go. Here in the midwest, we have commercial breeders putting out thousands of puppies in a year's time. Iowa alone has over 400 commercial breeders! We also have backyard breeders that go out and buy a dog or two, mate them, and think they can make a quick buck. Then we have the mentality that a dog should not be spayed or neutered and that no vet care is given because it is unnecessary. Cats fall victim to that even more than dogs. Cats are ratters and nothing more, if they overpopulate (which they will of course), you downsize by shooting.

Anyway..many of the rescue groups I work with are local, within the tristate area. There are animals that are rescued by pulling them from overpopulated shelters, purchased at puppy mill auctions, owner relinquished, or fall victim to breeder shut down. I am refering to mixed breed dogs as well as purebreds. These dogs are pulled into a rescue group and transported by volunteers who drive them an average of 75 miles to the next transport rescue volunteer. They leapfrog this way to the final destination which is usually a foster home that will provide medical care, love, and training to the new arrival. Now this may not sound overly amazing... For instance, the majority of these transports that I follow go from Missouri to either Minnesota or Wisconsin. This trip can often be done in a day. Still a spectacular feet when you consider the organization involved ie where do we meet, what time, how many dogs, where are they going (which with multiple dogs or cats on board, there are often multiple destinations...and when you consider the cost of gasoline...voila Angels on Wheels). Here is what really gets me. We have a rescue (and I know there are many more), that routinely rescues from the midwestern states, ie Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, gets the dogs COMPLETELY vetted prior to their transport including recovery time if a surgery is involved...then transports them... now get this, all the way to New England! That is a full 2 day transport with a dozen or so volunteers, around 1200 miles in donated travel, time, and gas, including an overnight stay at some caring volunteer's house. Did you ever think that this occured on a national level every weekend? As we watch our soccer game, or enjoy our cookout, people are creating an underground railroad of sorts to provide a life for animals that would likely otherwise be euthanized. I have links to my rescue friends on the links page of my website .

If you have interest in participating in transports such as these, let me know, I can try to send you in the right direction depending on where you live.

I have learned a lot since moving to Iowa. Wonderful things, like the joy (and stresses) of small town living, the fascination of watching miles of crops grow and be cultivated. And I have learned about heartbreaking things, like when senior/retired puppy mill breeding dogs enter my clinic through rescue for what is likely their first veterinary experience with health care. If I focus on their previous life experiences too much, if I think too long about the kittens we bottle fed and didn't make it, if I focus on the senior rescue that only survived another 8 months after rescue as its body failed from old age and wear and tear from a life of abuse and neglect... I could drop my stethoscope and scalpel, walk out the door and never look back.

BUT, if I look at the senior dog whose last 8 months were full of hugs, kisses, walks on the grass, playing with a doggie sibling or enjoying the love of a human family...I know those last 8 months, and the people that gave those 8 months of love, have benefitted greatly. I know that for the first time in its life, that dog experienced joy and love even if the experience was brief. The dog wanted it's owner to return from work, not to just throw a steel bowl full of kibble into it's cage and walk away, but to grab the dog in their arms in welcome and enjoy the warmth that a human is capable of sharing. It has experienced what should be normal for every dog.

When you look into your dog's eyes tonight, ask yourself where your dog's parents are. 95% of puppies sold on the internet and in pet stores, are the offspring of parents who live their lives in a cage that is only required by the Animal Welfare Act to be 6 inches longer, wider, and taller than the dog that resides within it for a lifetime. Pick up the nearest book and hold it 3 inches from your nose, allowing the other three for butt room. How comfortable is that? Now imagine your entire life that way.

Do you think it is time for a change?

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ameow2002 said...

I know you are busy too but i really look forward to your blog and want it EVERY DAY!!!Please???

Theresa Johnson said...

There are thousands of us. We all have gifts, mine is driving yours is writing some else does cross posting, fostering, pulling the list goes on. We are all in this together for the animals.

Tiffany Mitchell said...

Very nice article. I'm a transport coordinator for S'Wheat Rescues. Our volunteers are Rock Awesome Amazing (as I'm sure you have found out as well with your volunteers). The amount of time, coordination,and stress that goes into these pays off when you know that the mill dog has now completed its journey it their new furever home.

Mary Delaney said...

There is a saying...I don't know where I heard it, but it goes something like this " One day in rescue is better than no rescue at all". It sounds tough, but when I read in a recent Scotlund Haisley blog of a senior mama dog who had been tossed under the stack of breeder cages to lay there and die...but he pulled her out and handed her to a volunteer, who held her and loved her, but it was too late. The life went out of her before she could even be examined. I thought "at least she knew love at the end." Yeah, I was bawling, but that's how I feel about those we can't save: the ones that are hit by a car and have to be put down, the broken spines, mangled bodies, or tiny kittens that just have no reserve...they know our love, Lisa. That's why God put us where we are.