“Why spend $600 (or more) on one sick dog, when there are so many healthy ones who need homes?” This common query is aired far less often than it is pondered when addressing the overwhelming problem of unwanted dogs and cats in our community shelters.
The fact is that if a heartworm positive dog is picked up or surrendered to animal control, Aiken County policy says that it cannot be adopted out to a private citizen; it may only be transferred to a reputable rescue organization. Such organizations will only accept the heartworm positive dogs if the money for treatment accompanies the dog. Treatment and transportation runs between $600 to $700 dollars; hence the opening question.
Just before Thanksgiving of 2011, an elderly rat terrier named Snoopy came to our home. After many weeks languishing in a shelter cage, Snoopy had been adopted by an elderly friend who had loved a rat terrier long gone. The widow thought to share her twilight years with the little old dog who reminded her of another past.
Because Snoopy had not been neutered he could not go home with our friend for Thanksgiving. As an approved foster home, we opted to provide short-term foster care over the holiday. Then our friend had second thoughts. My husband fell in love with Snoopy. Snoopy stayed.
First, Snoopy had neck spasms. Then Snoopy was attacked by two large dogs and spent post-surgical time with drainage tubes in his neck wounds (we refer to it as the “extreme chiropractic” as the neck spasms never returned).
Snoopy’s extreme enthusiasm for food would cause his head to pop into view over the kitchen island while multiple food dishes were prepared. He rapped the “Gimme-the-Food!” song as back-up rhythm for the hops, “RUFF! Ruff-RUFF! RUFF-ruff-ruff-RUFF!”
Snoopy required a private dining room (the kitchen lavatory) and a soup can in his dish to slow his chowing down. We called him “Snooper-G,” the rapper. He got a bit too fat because the upward tilt of his adorable head trained my husband to give him just one more treat.
A few weeks ago, the dogs were tumbling out of their car, as they do most mornings when we arrive at the back side of Hitchcock Woods for our daily hike. Snoopy was asserting a personal fantasy about his canine prowess by buzzing PeeDee, our 60-pound “shar-pitt,” from behind.
PeeDee suddenly whirled and snapped a growl that caused Snoopy to haul up short and wrench to the side. One yelp and Snoopy’s hind legs were gone. The rest of the pack must have sensed the urgency as I scooped the tiny paraplegic up. They piled back in the car and we went straight to the vet who made a quick referral. Snoopy had back surgery in Columbia that afternoon.
Why spend all that money on one elderly dog who wasn’t even supposed to be ours? We are far from rich, when it comes to money anyway. We have way too many dogs, by any sane reckoning. Why not just “put him to sleep,” or euthanize him? Let’s face it, the pretty language makes killing for the sake of convenience or economics tidier. Snoopy was not ready to die; therefore, we were not ready to let him go. Saving him was an option. We took it.
Yes, I had to carry Snoopy out to express his bladder and help him poop if he hadn’t already soiled his bed, and, yes, I had to do a lot more laundry. But I think I know the answer to that opening question, “Why spend $600…?”
Love calls; we hear the call, and either we answer or we turn away. God is Love. Life is Love. The heartworm positive dog is Love. The motherless puppies and kittens are Love. The abandoned animal along the road is Love. Money is not love; it can only provide the means to express Love.
If you hear Love call from a treatable dog in our County Shelter, you can make a tax deductible contribution to “PAWS4Heartbeat” at www.paws4nokill.org. If you would like to reduce the number of unwanted puppies and kittens arriving at the Aiken County Animal Shelter, you can make a donation to SNYP at www.paws4nokill.org.
Sixty of us at $10 each can save a treatable dog; ten of us can spay a large female dog. When you donate your amount, just click on Make This Recurring in the paypal box. Credit cards accepted or set up a paypal account and have it deducted from your checking account each month.
It’s easy to do, just CLICK HERE to DONATE NOW!
Money is not Love. If you have a couple of weeks to show Love to a needy dog in transit, call Mary Lou at the Aiken Foster Network hotline: (803) 275-0841or email her at MaryLou@paws4nokill.org.
There are so many ways to act as if the God in all Life matters. Together we can stop the unnecessary killing. Act now. Please.