Saturday, February 21, 2009

Miracles on the side of the road

I have two little miracles living in my house today. This is just a temporary stop for them, because these miracles will eventually find a home of their own. These little miracles are puppies.

Early last week, my rescue group got a call about ten Great Pyrenees puppies found on the side of the road. Now last week was cold - we had bitter cold winds and freezing temperatures and even some rain. It was a bad time to be an outdoors puppy. It was an even worse time to be a puppy dumped in a muddy ditch on the side of the road in rural Texas.

Someone was watching over these pups though, and a call was placed to animal control. They came out to get the soggy, soaking, cold and hungry pups. Not one of them weighed more than 4-5 pounds. There were five boys and five girls, between the age of 4-5 weeks. Probably shouldn't even have been away from their mama. It would only taken a day or two for all of them to die, exposed to the elements and other predatory creatures.

When we picked them up, the shelter manager, a young man who couldn't even be 25 years old, was angry. Angry because these pups deserved a chance, angry because of the idiot who dumped them. You could see the stress on his young face. His day consists of finding animals in his out-of-the-way area, then deciding who could possibly be adopted, then euthanizing the rest. The shelter is very small, I counted only 8 kennels, and one killing room. But the cool thing was how his countenance changed when we came to get these pups. There would be no killing today, at least of these tiny white bundles.

In his gratefulness, he and his staffer bathed them and treated them for fleas. He remarked to us that it was a rare occasion indeed when such a large number of dogs leave his small shelter in just one day. I know he wanted to say "alive" but he was gracious and held it back.

As a Christian, I believe we find miracles when we look for them. There isn't always a flash of bright white light. It isn't often that scales fall from eyes, or people get up from their mats and walk. But there are miracles every day - in the sound of the wind and the rustle of the leaves on the trees, in the flowers - and even the weeds - pushing up from nothingness. There are miracles in the sweetness of puppy breath and the innocent delight of watching babies play, so oblivious to what their fate might have been even last week. There was a miracle in that shelter manager's life last week when he realized that FINDING these ten puppies meant SAVING them, and not having to subject them (and himself) to the sad surrender of the pink liquid, that had been placed in neat rows on the shelves of the killing room cupboard. In my years of doing rescue, I know how you have to harden yourself against the realities of this work. But I've also honestly never seen a shelter manager more softened and grateful.

These ten little miracles are the lucky ones. They were found and they were saved. But hundreds of thousands of miracles are lost every day to ignorance and cruelty. Please. It doesn't matter whether you prefer dogs or cats, please - spay or neuter your pet. DON'T buy a pet from a breeder or a pet shop. Every single one of my pyrs is a pure bred that someone else didn't want.

There are rescue groups all over the United States that have animals available for adoption. Here is the one I work with - Saving Pyrs In Need (SPIN).

Now here is a photo of my two little miracles: Carlee and Caylee, both just 4 pounds of wide-eyed, heart-stealing sweetness.


Rini said...

I'm curious: why are there so many purebred abandons? From the little I know of breeders, the litters are carefully planned and placed. How does a whole set get purely (which I'd think would have to be more intentional than not in most cases) bred but not wanted? Sorry for my ignorance -- point me to a quick read elsewhere if the answer is out there.

Susan who? said...

Rini - there are a lot of reasons, but the most typical one is this: In rural areas, Pyrs are used as livestock guardian dogs for sheep and goats. And from living here in Texas, you probably know that there is a certain segment of the population that feel that spaying or neutering their dogs "takes the fight out of them" and they feel they wouldn't be able to properly guard their flock against coyotes or other predators. It's totally untrue, but that's the way a lot of people feel.

In rural areas especially, Pyrs are allowed to breed without consequence - to the owner. We are consistently called to pick up a litter because of an "accident" or because someone wanted their kids to witness the miracle of birth. (Maybe these kids and their concerned parents should witness the hopelessness of death by lethal injection too, but that's another rant for another day.)

There was a BIG story in our local news recently about a goat farmer in Van Sandt County who had over 185 uncared for animals on his property. Over 40 of those animals were Pyrs and three of them were mamas who had litters of Pyr puppies almost immediately after being rescued. My rescue group is taking the puppies and 10 of the fully grown dogs.

The sad this was that this number started out much higher. We had initially taken in three mamas with 15 pups between them. Due to their lack of care while in the farmer's care, we are now down to only two mamas and nine pups.

You can read about the Van Zandt adventure here:

Our 10 Seagoville pups? They were the result of another goat farmer's "accident." Only these little accident victims got lucky and were found soon after they were dumped.

The local authorities managed to find this goat farmer, which is fortunate. Maybe we can recoup some of the costs of vetting and fostering these 10 pups. And a rescue group offered to spay and neuter his dogs for free, which he, of course, declined.