Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saving a Shelter Dog Two Thousand Miles Away

Once I helped save the life of a dog a couple of thousand miles away.

At that time, I was only beginning to learn about dog rescues via the internet. This was all a while back. I'm not even sure Pet Finder was around at that time.
But animal welfare advocates and rescues had begun to network, set up sites, and post dogs that needed help.

The hardest part then, as it is now, was seeing the photos of so many shelter dogs. Though I knew shelters killed dogs and cats, I still wanted to believe that all the dogs I saw posted would find homes, but the facts sank in: so many of the dogs and cats on those web pages would be killed.

Among the many photos, I found this little guy in Los Angeles's South Central Shelter:

He reminded me of my own Perry, the love of my life -- the same size, shape, color, the same type of face and eyes. I kept thinking of him, alone, afraid, and without hope in an overcrowded shelter which few who entered left alive.

One wants to help them all, which is impossible. But I knew that I had to do something for this dog, even if it meant flying to California myself, as irrational as that may seem.

And it was irrational. A few miles away dogs languished at my own city's shelter. Why didn't I simply do something for one of them? It came back to this dog reminding me of Perry.

Since the L.A. dog was listed as part Pug, I emailed the two Pug rescues I could find at that time. One in Georgia got back to me, saying she had contacted a rescue in L.A. after receiving my email and had passed along my phone number and email.

A day later the L.A. rescuer phoned. She'd been to the shelter earlier that week to pull dogs, had seen the Pug mix and passed him by because his temperament seemed "iffy." But after learning of my concern for him from the Georgia rescue, she went back, spent time with him and, finding him calmer, pulled him. She was sure her rescue would be able to find him a home.

I sent her a donation, and later talked to her for the last time. The little Pug mix had been adopted by two screen writers who thought him absolutely wonderful.

A few months later, even though I already had a houseful of my own dogs, I started fostering.

Helping one small dog a couple of thousand miles away -- that will always be one of my best moments, leaving me forever grateful to two women I'll never meet, one in Georgia and one in California. It proved to me what can be done, even long distance, if those who care work together.

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