One day I read a blog about an adoptive puppy turned 8 year old dog who terrorized his owner by attacking various innocent people and dogs for nearly a decade.
The owner finally found the ability within herself to do the right thing, and she had the dog she loved euthanized following a day of fun and love. Peacefully, he went over the Rainbow Bridge never knowing a bad day, and his reign of terror on his owner and those around him ended.
This was a first world problem, really. Only in very fortunate places on the planet can someone spend 8 years tormenting themselves over trying to decide what to do with an aggressive pet. . .or a sick pet. . .or pets that have no where to go for various and very real reasons.
I’m thankful for that. . .but we do have to recognize it is a luxury many in the world will not be offered or even be able to understand.
“I want to save Dogs.”
“Roosters. . .”
The line of would be rescuers grows longer the more I browse the comments on Social Media beneath images of various woebegone creatures on my news feed. Heck, half of the time, it is under a photo of the bedraggled creature I’ve assisted in rescuing.
Yet Save has such a strange interpretation among animal lovers, advocates and activists.
I find It harder and harder to understand some of the versions of what “Rescue” and “Save” mean to people these days.
Six or so years ago, a vet told me the story of a rescue group that is quite large not especially far from us. The doctor was dismayed at the number of animals being kept for years on end in crates and pens. These animals were highly unadoptable either due to behavioral or physical issues. Not only were these animals unadoptable (in his words) but it was being proven out with each passing year because they were not being adopted. The animals were not only unadoptable (some will debate what that means regardless), this vet felt the conditions were not humane. . .either because of the extreme behaviors these animals were trying to cope with while living in little cells (aggression, severe depressed behavior, unpredicatibility) or because their medical conditions made life quality poor. This rescue organization was rendered almost useless year after year because they refused to ever let a single animal go with a peaceful end to have space to then save those with a viable chance at adoption – those were turned away, instead.
Somehow this organization felt the animals facing each day in mental anguish or physical pain over and over again made more kind sense than just being gone.
How can that ever be? How do we consign this as a real answer to anything? Isn’t it really more a lack of action?
How can we live in a society where we know when people become very sick, either mentally or physically, so many speak openly of wishing to just be at peace, but we deny this dignity to animals over and over again when we can help them?
Before I go further, there are a few things we should agree on or you are going to feel that reading this was a horrible waste of your time:
*** Animals, while feeling and loving beings, are not humans dreaming about tomorrow. Animals live in the here and now. They are instinctual creatures craving the ability to come and go at their leisure about Normal activities, pain-free, with plenty of food and without fear in their “Today.”***
I can agree to disagree if you feel otherwise.
We’ve developed a society of severe blacks and whites. Extremes that lead to detriments where one side or both suffer, but who cares. . .we have an agenda, right?
To keep life going at all costs. . .forever? Because, you know, forever here does not work. It is going to end, eventually, for that horse, dog, cat or turtle (though the turtle has a more viable chance at outliving you, for sure).
We have crossed the line. People somehow feel we have the right to interfere up to the point of making the call to say this degree of suffering is too much and it has to end for a companion animal. Yet they feel we can interfere with life to keep it going, to perpetuate a gross injustice to the animal and just not to let it go.
I mean. . . who remembers the horse with his eyes, ears and most of his face mauled off, his skin mostly gone over large portions of his body. . .but it made people feel cheerful to “save” him. Save him? No. That isn’t a fair use of the word. To keep him alive. That is what happened. And people loved it. It broke my heart.
It begs the question, when the vast majority of Americans believe in a wonderful afterlife in Heaven (and if not that, others accept death as a peaceful lack of being), why is simply “not being” so hysterically feared by us for dogs, horses and cats (and ourselves when we are healthy, but that is another story). The only answer, whatever you come up with, is based in the selfish and not in compassion.
I’ve seen neglect and abuse. . .I’ve witnessed enough of what really should be feared and hated, so I cannot despise a peaceful end the way so many pet owners do, the way too many in rescue do. Further, I’ve had an aging parent explain to me day in and out how much he wanted to just “Go on,” and that stays with me. I wish it stayed with more folks.
Where is this going?
We rescue. We own pets.
We hold on too long and do so cruelly with good intentions. But good intentions do not matter to the pet. At all.
How many starving horses I’ve picked up from owners with good intentions. They made a mistake. Horrible Mistakes. Rescues and otherwise good pet owners make mistakes, as well.
If you are a pet owner and are holding your dog or cat together with glue, paper clips and weekly vet visits, who are you doing that for because it certainly isn’t the for the animal you say you love.
If you are a horse owner and your horse’s lifestyle has dramatically changed so that it is no longer able to do the things a horse would normally do (make it to the water trough, maintain a reasonable weight, socialize and play with its herd-mates, eat hay with enthusiasm and gusto, greet you cheerfully) why are you clinging to this shadow of the animal you once had?
If you are a rescuer with dogs waiting for 2 years in a crate 23 hours a day for a home because his behaviors, fears or health make him unadoptable, who are you holding him for because that choice you are making isn’t for the animal.
How many dogs will be pulled out of a loud, crowded cell in a facility to be killed (because in many animal control shelters, what happens isn’t peaceful euthanisia) after waiting for a home never knowing real kindness (because for over 2 million, that home isn’t coming this year) when a rescue that has no space to pull and hold for an adopter could still pull that cat or dog, love him or her for a small bit of time with good food and a quiet environment and then let that animal go having known “rescue” for a bit of time and a peaceful end. Well, who wants to do that? No one, it seems.
Standing at an auction letting horses be loaded up on semi trucks heading over to Mexico while we complain there was no space, there were no homes. . .while the horses head on down to have their skulls haphazardly fractured, are hung upside down, bleed out and go in boxes because we have no holding space and donors will not fund pulling and euthanizing – isn’t a call we make for the horses’ benefit, folks.
What does our Lack of Action really say about Rescue?
The rescue world need more rescuers with fortitude, not afraid of a peaceful end or afraid of breaking idealisms – we need rescuers determined to end actual suffering.
Keeping hoping for an ideal world, but Work in the Real World.
END actual suffering, folks. . .
At Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue not only do we want to save and adopt out horses but we also want to equip owners to take care of the ones they currently own better and as economically as possible. As partners of The Right Horse Initiative we believe partnership within the equine industry and rescue and adoption centers is vital.
We also believe in being here for our adopters and page followers with practical advice, pragmatic horse husbandry ideas and practices, and sharing our experiences so that you, the follower can learn from them.
Together with the #righthorse it is our goal at Heart of Phoenix to grow a community of knowledgeable horse people and potential adopters who make Great homes for horses looking for their new address. We want to spread the word about good horse care, good equine collaboration, and the viability of a horse in transition as a terrific option for your new friend.