by Joyce Brandon
Joyce is a part of Animal Compassion Team, an animal rescue in Squaw Valley.
Ninety-nine percent of rescue work is consumed with taking pets that for one reason or another have lost their home and need a new one. The drill is pretty much the same, assess, vet, foster, and find that happily ever after. It is fabulous work, and is a job we take very seriously. Most of the animals in our care were facing death sentences: they either came from a shelter or were on their way there. We love saving lives!
Roughly one percent of our animals are what I’ll call extreme rescues, the 911’s. These are animals on the verge of death (other than shelter euthanasia) and without immediate intervention, most were facing a painful and inexcusable death. These extreme cases, while incredibly rewarding, stretch our resources. They can take a sudden financial and emotional toll on us; but these animals more than anything represent the heart and soul of animal rescue. We love the animals and constantly push the limits of common sense to help when we are able. A few animals come to mind when I think about our extreme rescues and I’d like to share their stories.
Note: The pictures may be disturbing to some of you but honestly, how can we ask them to live it if we can’t even look at it? Animals are living in these conditions all over our valley. Please become their voice.Our most recent 911 was a little Pit Bull puppy named Baloo. Baloo is alive today because a neighbor refused to stay quiet and watch this beautiful puppy die a slow death. Baloo was a happy go lucky puppy. He routinely visited with the neighboring dogs through the backyard fence. Baloo was not allowed to play with the neighbors so he sought companionship, peeking and playing between the boards that imprisoned him. Our heroine, the neighbor, watched Baloo as he grew. One day she noticed that something wasn’t right with the puppy. After a little investigation, she found out that Baloo had eaten rat poison and his owner had no intention of seeking medical treatment. She watched helplessly as the symptoms increased, unable to convince the owner to get help. Over the course of several days, she could see that Baloo was slowing down and starting to bleed out of his nose. The poison was thinning his blood as it is designed to do.
The final day, as he lay in a plastic bin covered in his own blood, the neighbor could stand it no longer and began a dialogue with our rescue group. Two of our dedicated foster mom’s decided to take action. The neighbor convinced the owner to give the puppy up, believing at the time he would need to be euthanized. Baloo’s guardian angels arrived at the vet believing they were at least able to offer him an end to his suffering; but, the vet offered a glimmer of hope and it seemed only right to give him a chance. Blood transfusions were ordered. Baloo’s blood count was only 10 and his body temperature a mere 94 degrees, the vet said he would have only lived another couple of hours. Baloo has surprised us all with his will to live. He bounced back after two transfusions faster than anyone would have thought. Animals are at the mercy of the human that holds them captive. Baloo suffered as his ears were cut off with scissors and he suffered as he lay in the cold, bleeding to death; but, that was then. His future is bright and he is loved beyond measure all because a number of kind people decided to get involved. A neighbor, a few volunteers, and a whole bunch of donors made a difference in the life of this puppy.
Goldie is right at the top of my 911 list. Goldie was a little dog we had tagged for rescue at the Central California SPCA in Fresno. He was lively and healthy and just waiting to get through his stray hold. We received a call that they found him “down” in his kennel. They supposed a dog attack. I was asked to come see him to determine if we wanted to help him. This tiny little dog was huddled in the corner of his cold concrete holding cell. He was unresponsive and had been left to die.
We feel a responsibility to the animals we tag and this little guy was no exception. I asked for a towel to wrap him in and off to the vet we went. I didn’t think he would make it to the vet alive and the whole time I’m driving I’m thinking of the vet bills and liability to the rescue group. It makes no earthly sense to grab a dog you don’t know, to spend money at the vet you don’t have, for an outcome that is at best uncertain; yet, that’s what we do time and time again. Our vet staff took one look at him and asked if I wanted him euthanized, I said, “No, I want you to save him.” So that’s what they did. They warmed him; he received pain medication and IV fluids. It was touch and go but the little guy made it. We will never know what really happened to Goldie; but this we know: To this day, he warms the bed of his foster failure family and they love him.
Sometimes there are just no words for the cruelty the animals suffer. This picture of Lorna is hard to look at. She does have eyes. Her skin was cracked and infected because of untreated Demodex mange. Lorna was discovered in the shelter by one of our volunteers. She was a stray and sat in the Central California SPCA for five days in this condition. She received no treatment although day after day the staff vets and vet techs would have walked by her. We think this is inexcusable. It has been a long treatment regimen and Lorna will likely struggle with Demodex always; but it should never get out of control like this again. Lorna has some personality quirks that make her interesting and life is never dull with her around. She is looking for a home with adults only because children are her favorite snack.
It may seem that helping these animals was a hard choice. It was, in fact, the simple decision. We agonize over these special cases and the hardest thing for us to do is to say no and walk away because the human heart is at the core of rescue work. We feel their pain and that pain compels us to act.
Is your heart aching? Did you feel a stirring while reading this article? If so, find out how you can help. Rescue groups need recovery homes and monetary donations to cover their medical expenses. If you can’t take in an animal or donate money how about holding a supply drive at work? There are so many ways to help. Put your talents and gifts to work today. Find a rescue group near you and ask how you can help. The animals are depending upon you.
Learn more about ACT in their article here at KRL & watch for a new adoptable pet from ACT on our home page every week.