There’s an all too common phrase that is used to describe the outsider’s perspective on insider events; Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Grammar aside, this is by far the easiest way to really explain that the stresses and issues that occur cannot be fully realized unless you are the one incurring them. Words alone will not master the definition of life unless you’re living.
The same can be said about animal rescue. While many view this as a hobby or “side job”, those who have thrown themselves into the grueling task of saving the lives of helpless animals see it as a way of life. They work 9-5 to prepare for their “real” work. It’s so easy to criticize those involved when you’re looking through the windows, peering from the outside. The question is, what decisions comes under the duress that the common public doesn’t see, feel, or know?
In all reality, most decisions are born of these forces. Whether it’s a choice to deny an adoption or humanely euthanize for health or temperament reasons, those decisions should, and typically do, come from a place of rational thought.
Enter in the outsider; one who is fully critical of the process without undergoing the complex series involved. Now, this is not true of everyone who chooses the sane life of straying from the depths of animal rescue, but it can be used to describe a large group that tend to think they’re somewhat “above” the realities of it all.
And reality it is. It’s safe to assume that people enter into the world of rescue with thoughts of saving the population, educating the public, and being an unsung hero. For many, this proves to be the truth. Workers who make a difference are rarely credited with their actions, and those who do little tend to steal the spotlight and cheers. But even more so, those who sit back and watch have the loudest voice. With the advent of social media, the voice has grown. There’s access to events across the country, and nothing is secured by physical boundaries or territorial boarders. Readers in Northern Canada can react to the atrocity of the Chinese fur trade. A late night browser can know, within seconds, of the death of a dog in New York City. Nothing is hidden, and it leaves so much open to interpretation.
Most recently, outrage over the deaths of two dogs, Little Debbie and Dutch. Readers wanting to know the story can click this link to read everything, but the outcome is tragic. Two dogs, seemingly set for a life of love and freedom, were euthanized because of a lack of respect for rescue. That’s the simple truth. Lying to save a dog can just as easily spell disaster for that animal. In this case, two dogs who didn’t present well when faced with other canines, were adopted into a home with dogs. The problem is that the adopters lied to free the dogs from their cages. The application stated that there were no dogs at the home. And when the inevitable scuffle happened, it spelled the end for Debbie and Dutch.
This article has gotten a lot of press, but it’s not unique. Sadly, situations like this are almost common. People adopt in order to pass the animal onto another. They lie about children or animals in their household. Some lie about their past pets and the circumstances regarding their re-homing or deaths. This is not to say that there are not times this doesn’t prove beneficial. Rescue and shelter personal are far from perfect, and no one should expect them to be that way. There are times when everyone makes mistakes. But, as a whole, it’s very important to be up front and realize that the cause is bigger than your wants and needs.
Animal rescue is a life changing jump into a world that is full of the helpless, the sick, the homeless, and the lost. This doesn’t just apply to the animals, but also the humans that have failed them. Sometimes, it’s even rescues who fail them. Without staff, evaluations, and work, it’s easy for certain animals to slip through the cracks. But, at least those involved are trying.
Bystanders who criticize tend to do more harm than good. Lying, altering information, and bullying can only lead to further problems for the animals themselves. Why risk it? Why is it that those who aren’t involved feel they know more than those who are? This problem extends well beyond rescue, but can affect shelters and rescues at their core.
The truth behind rescue is brutal. There’s no money to be made. Most groups lose money, sleep, and sanity along the way. While there is praise and thanks, it’s on such a small scale that it can never really overcome the trauma of it all. Rescue is not pretty. Pictures are pretty. Pulling a dog from the depths of despair, dirt, and disgust is un-Godly. Rescuing forty cats from a home that’s been slowly eaten away by their waste is necessary, but not rewarding. The photos and stories of forever tails make it worthwhile. The backroom decisions, and the late night vigils are the things the general public doesn’t see.
Volunteers sometimes never recover after knowingly feeding an animal its last meal. This is the reality of rescue. There’s no glamor behind the scenes. The life of a rescuer is filled fill love, stress, sorry, shame, and a handful of emotions so complicated they can’t even be described with words.
Maybe it’s true that you can’t save them all. Thankfully, there are those so committed to saving the ones they can, that they’re too busy to fear they can’t. The truth is, no one knows if they can be saved unless there are those willing to try. Some animals may pass away waiting for a home. Others can pose a threat to society, and a humane death is immanent. These are the realities of rescue. And, unless you’re involved in it; unless you’ve cried as a dog died in your arms or made the decision that it was “time”, please sit back and let the professionals do what they know how to do. Not everyone can handle this life, so we need to hold onto those who make it work.
These words won’t make everyone happy. In fact, some may be offended. But, if it makes at least one reader think before pressing the Facebook “post” button one more time, then the article has done its job. In the meantime, mourn those who have lost life, love, and freedom in the name of outside intrusion.