Friday, September 18, 2015

The tangled web

The world of animal rescue is pretty convoluted, even crazy. It's not all puppies with wagging tails going home from adoption fairs with smiling families. There is a dark side, and honestly, all aspects of this dark side disgust me. This is why I've worked privately and somewhat "under the radar" all these years. I don't want to be part of the drama.
 There have been several stories recently about "rescues " being closed down, animals found dead, starved or kept in horrible conditions. In some cases those running the rescue are prosecuted, others have disappeared. Sadly this is not anything new. Many so called rescuers are just after money. The money pledged by good people who want to help the animals. These "rescues " collect the pledge money then stash the animals somewhere, usually neglecting them until they die. Sometimes the "rescued" animals are dropped at other shelters and sometimes, especially in the case of purebred puppies, they are sold. Shelters don't help, many of them make animals available to rescues before they are available to adopters. I've had that happen. I wanted to adopt an animal only to be told it was given to a rescue because rescues have first choice. Some of the horror stories about animal "rescue" will blow your mind.
There is another issue in animal rescue that I've found to be far more prevalent, but just as destructive. This is the issue of human ego. Everyone wants to be the hero, the one to "save" the animals. Unfortunately this usually causes more harm than good. I've seen incidents where "rescuers" report each other for animal cruelty, for having too many animals in the home, or any other violation they can think up. The finger pointing, bad mouthing and accusations between supposed rescuers is unbelievable. What happens when someone is reported for any of these violations? The animals are seized and taken back to a shelter. How is that a victory???
I ran into a situation recently, a group was pulling animals from our local gas chamber shelter, lots of animals. With the exception of one poor cat that the shelter gassed because they decided it was feral, there haven't been any animals gassed in months. That's a good thing right? The animals are not dying in the gas chamber.  What's been happening is that many of the animals have rescues, legitimate out of state rescues who are backing the animals and having them fostered until they can be transported.  This is very common and perfectly fine. Not all the animals being pulled have rescues though. Many are pulled just to prevent them from being gassed. That's not necessarily a bad thing either, no one wants to have an animal gassed to death. The animals are placed with fosters while volunteers look for a rescue willing to take them. Still not necessarily a bad thing, right? The problems start when the animals get sick or there is some other problem that makes the foster unable to keep the animal. What happens then? If you see the little puppy in your care start to get sick, what do you do? You are not likely to get any help from the people who placed the animal with you, there's no rescue backing the animal, remember? You have to make a choice, do you seek vet care, at your own expense, or do you watch the animal get sicker and possibly die? What if you can't afford vet care? Treatment for a case of Parvo is usually $1,000 or more. A lot of animals coming out of Shawnee are sick, I personally have spent almost $2,000 on "fosters". Fortunately this doesn't happen all the time, many animals don't get sick and they get placed with rescues, everything works out ok. But what if it does happen? How should a problem like this be handled? My thought is that the individuals pulling the animals should fundraise, they should have a fund to help with these situations, you caring, go fund me, lots of options for individual fund raising.  I've considered offering to help with this, but this group has made it clear they don't want help.  Is this another case of ego getting in the way of doing what's right? Maybe. Maybe they are figuring this out and putting something in place to help the fosters and the sick animals. Obviously no one wants to hear that animals are being gassed because they aren't being rescued. But what happens after they are pulled? 
In the world of animal rescue caution is always advised. Know who you are giving your money to and how they use it, and if you foster an animal be absolutely certain about who it belongs to and who is responsible for it.