“Rescuing a dog will not change the world, but it will change the dog’s world.” The significance of this slogan from the Weimaraner Rescue of South Carolina, located in Aiken County, is clear to all of us involved with rescue.
Ask any of the local shelter staff and volunteers with the SPCA Albrecht Center or the new Aiken County Animal Shelter who see thousands of homeless pets every year. Or talk to Shelter Animal Advocates, Molly’s Militia, Happy Tails, L.E.A.S.H. Squad, and Home for Good Dog Rescue, or “breed” rescues like Weimaraners, they may tell you that, if done right, the change only starts with the rescued animal.
I am a romantic and an idealist. I like to insert “pragmatic” as a modifier, just to suggest that I have evolved, but I will admit to the belief that whatever my current occupation, and there have been quite a few, I am always changing the world. So when I saw the slogan about rescuing and world changing, it got me wondering. I think the process can, and should, be bigger than that. I also think Weimaraner Rescue and other local rescue organizations are making it happen. I’ll give you the guided tour through my reasoning.
P.A.W.S. (Palmetto Animal Welfare Services, Inc.) gets many, many calls from residents throughout our very large county who are responding to our offer of low-cost spay/neuter for their pets. In the course of these conversations, we hear about the many previous or current litters. I always ask, “What did you (or will you) do with the puppies (or kittens)?” Answers vary, but they say that they find (most of them) homes.
Of course no one says, I just take them to the county, or dump them, or call the county and say that they were dumped. Those folks probably don’t bother to call PAWS. In short, free dogs or cats are very easy to come by. And we all know where many of them end up, and then some of the “lucky” ones get their world changed by being rescued. This is the world as we know it.
Now go to the SPCA website (letlovelive.org) or Home for Good Dog Rescue (homeforgooddogs.org), or Weimaraner Rescue (weimrescuesc.org) and look at their adoption guidelines and processes.
The SPCA specifically tells people about the considerations and cost related to owning (read: providing a good home for) a pet. No Christmas puppies, no indulge-your-kid’s-whim. They address the costs for routine vet visits, vaccines, heartworm prevention, food and supplies. That’s monetary costs; then there is the time to train, exercise, and be a good companion to your companion animal. Then there is the adoption process itself; you would think that a child was being placed in a home. Actually, for many of us, that is exactly what it is like. And that is where our world begins to change.
If you look closely at the adoption criteria for these rescue groups, you will find basically the same ethic running through the process. They want to know what kind of family and home the applicants are prepared to provide. They are not charging a lot of money, as if they are dispensing some rare commodity, they are stewarding a precious life, for which a great responsibility is felt. They want to know about lifestyle and living arrangements and habits and temperaments. They are prepared to do everything in their power to assure a good fit for the animal.
Home for Good, screens, checks references, arranges meet-and-greets for the prospective families and their dog-interest. SPCA follows similar protocols. And with their “Phideaux University,” they have prepared their charges to be ready for a well-prepared and discerning human.
Weimaraner Rescue, knowing the propensities of their breed, goes out of the way to make sure that appropriate education and training are part of the mix. Even Aiken County Animal Services, with their new shelter and their passionate and highly experienced adoption coordinator, has begun basic prescreening for animal adoptions.
So, you ask, how does this change the world? Here’s where being a little bit of a pragmatic idealist and romantic helps. Imagine a world where, life by life, home by home, family and community by family and community, we begin to think about how we need to treat those who have a right to depend on us.
Imagine if we learn to tune in to the simple and simply magnificent needs and talents of our dogs and cats, and then we commit to providing for them with love and compassion, what we might also commit to for our children, our elderly, our poor and needy.
The devotion to love, compassion AND responsibility that our rescues bring to the world, not only will change the world, it already is. Onward!