I have a story to share with all of you today, that I am SO excited about! As in, I woke up in the middle of the night to type it out, because it just couldn’t wait any longer.
Some of you may be followers of New York’s Animal Care & Control Urgent facebook page. If you aren’t, you may be ‘friends’ with me on facebook, and have seen the posts I share regularly. Most states or counties have some sort of group like this, but essentially, the volunteers at the shelter run a facebook page dedicated to bringing exposure to all of the shelter’s residents. They will include lengthy write-ups, behavior evaluations, and flattering photos of each dog, in an effort to find them a home, foster, or rescue before it is too late. Unfortunately, this shelter seems to have more problems than most. Rumors of abuse, neglect, and poor management run rampant, and it is said that many of the shelter’s actual employees have no real interest in saving the animals in their care. While this may or may not be true, it can’t be denied that there is a serious problem of animal overpopulation in the city, and the euthanasia list is often extensive. A group of dedicated rescues also team up to help save most of the more promising dogs, but this time of year, funds and resources are limited. More importantly, even the rescues can’t offer much help without dedicated foster families stepping up to the plate.
With that being said, I still peruse the lists most evenings, my heart breaking with each click through the photos. These are mostly good, sweet dogs, that have had a rough path in life. In the stressful shelter environment, the behavior evaluations they undergo are rarely indicative of a dog’s true personality, but still, some rise to the top of the pack, with glowing evaluations and personal volunteer recommendations. Each night, I select a few, sometimes the neediest, and sometimes the most impressive, and share them on my personal page. It could (and has!) been argued to me, that this is a waste of my time. Sharing dogs on my page, every night… I’m exposing them to the same people, over and over. However, I have noticed a funny phenomenon; more and more of my facebook friends are taking an interest, and spreading the posts I share with them, exposing the pups to new faces across the internet, and around the country.
Regardless of the receptivity from the facebook community, this still often feels like a fruitless cause. While I can’t sit by and do nothing, more nights than not, the list suffers a few casualties each following morning. But this week, all of those doubts escaped me because we did it. We directly helped to save a life on the list, and I feel so blessed to have been part of this miracle.
While perusing the list on Monday, I was struck with the largest number (18!) of highly adoptable dogs that I had ever seen on the list at one time. One of these pups was Charlie.
Look at that tongue, the wiggly body, bright eyes, his feet lifting off of the ground in anticipation, and of course, his striking markings! Nevertheless, the shelter gave him an ‘experienced’ rating, and described him as ‘nervous and tense’. Well, duh! Who wouldn’t be, given that environment?! As if that wasn’t enough, they consequently called him ‘extremely exciteable’…. what a conundrum! To me, it was almost like poor Charlie was being set up for failure. In spite of all of this, he scored all 1’s and 2’s on his SAFER evaluation, happily sharing his food and toys with the assess-a-hand, willing to play with the evaluator, and even displaying playful interest in the test dog.
In a rare stroke of luck, not only did Charlie catch my eye, but his post on my page also then caught the attention of my facebook friend K. K was an acquaintance from my Penn State days, as we had shared many of the same Animal Science classes. Originally from NYC herself, K was a regular follower of the ACC dogs, and had always planned to adopt a dog from there once her life was more consistent. The instability in her life was due to the fact that she is dedicating her life to these beautiful animals by pursuing a career as a veterinarian. K is currently in vet school in St. Kitts. So while she fell instantly and madly in love with Mr. Charlie upon seeing my post, she was desperate to find some assistance. Of course, I would have helped in a heartbeat, but our foster spot is (obviously) full.
K stayed up through the night, eventually scheming with our former classmate and her former roommate L. L graciously offered to drive from PA to NYC to rescue Charlie, filling out the appropriate paperwork and fronting the funds, all for a dog that we knew little about. As if that wasn’t enough, L also would foster Charlie until K could find a more permanent solution. It sounds like such a Cinderella story, but can you believe, that it gets better?
L picked up Charlie just in time, and secured him in her vehicle for the long trip ahead. The exhausted pup passed out in the back seat, and slept the whole way to Pennsylvania, seemingly recuperating from his arduous ordeal. Once they arrived, Charlie was a bit nervous and quiet, but L described him as intelligent and kind. He is settling in quietly, but quickly, and while Charlie is being kept separate from L’s female pit for a short adjustment period, he has already attempted to initiate play with her through their containment. He also does well in his kennel, and appears to be house trained. Really, he is a dream adoption candidate, and none of this would have been possible if K had judged him from his evaluation.
Charlie will be renamed ‘Cash,’ to mark his new journey in life. His ‘moms’ are both already head over heels for him, and K is anxiously awaiting her return to the states later this month to meet her dream boy in person.
While Cash’s story might sound far-fetched and fantastic, the reality is that this is much more common than it might appear. Another example is a pit mix called “Lola,” now Mellie, who found herself on the euth list in the NYACC system, with a rating of ‘experienced- no child’. Essentially, this can be a death sentence for many dogs. Fortunately, a kind woman saw something more in this deaf little white pit bull, and brought her home to live with her family anyway. Mellie has since proven to be endlessly gentle with the family’s 2 and 4-year-olds, even spending the days of Hurricane Sandy curled around them in bed to keep them warm in spite of power loss.
These are love stories. These are family stories. And these are pit bull stories. ❤ Please don’t hesitate to get involved, however small your contribution may seem. You never know what lives will be touched.