unless you are need to have a little cry. The following was part of the recent Dachshund Rescue of Houston newsletter. Thank heavens there are people in the world who can do this kind of work.
Call The Trashmen for Pick-up and Recycle
We got the call on Friday afternoon. Two Dachshunds to be rescued from animal control. Both around five years old, neither spayed nor neutered and heartworm positive. If we don’t pick-up Saturday they will be euthanized. Always the same story. Come now or they die.
Saturday morning at eleven we wait outside the shelter for the doors to open. No special treatment for rescue groups. Get in line and wait. The doors open at exactly eleven and we go in with a multitude of people, some not speaking English, some speaking in whispers.
One person says, “My dog is here for biting somebody, but my dog don’t bite.”
Another says, “My dog got out. He keeps getting out and running away. I don’t know why he does that. He got a good place in the backyard under a tree. He don’t even hardly get wet when it rains, but he keeps running away.”
An attendant asks, “Is he neutered?” The answer is quick. “Hell no! Ain’t nobody doing that to my dog. Hell no.”
It’s always the same. We used to try to educate those waiting in line, but it’s futile. So we wait quietly as the people move closer to the check-in counter.
Finally one of the attendants who has seen us before recognizes us. “You here for the Dachshunds?,” he asks.
He motions us to go with him into the back where the animals are housed. We take a deep breath of the stagnant air that smells of death and follow behind the attendant. We try to look straight ahead. Don’t lock eyes with the hundreds of dogs who are standing on their hind legs, front paws entwined in the steel mesh. They are all barking at us, begging to be released. The numbers are overwhelming. Most are Pitbulls. Many are mutts. Some are purebreds. The cries echo in our ears. For days they will still be echoing in our minds.
In a cage at the far end of where the animals are warehoused we see two very small and frightened Dachshunds. They are nearly identical. We can see she has obviously had pups. “Where did they come from?,” we ask. Usually we get the standard, “strays, picked up downtown.” This time it’s different. “Owner turn-in. Their names are Rocket and Angel. Said they are moving and can’t take them to the new house.”
We look at them. They are a breeding pair. There is no doubt in our minds. A breeding pair who are heartworm positive and left at animal control to die. A dog picked up on the street is given seventy-two hours for the owner to come and claim him. Dogs that are turned in by their owners are scheduled for euthanasia immediately. No one is coming to claim them so why wait? Moreover, if they are HW positive that locks their sentence in tighter. It costs too much to treat them.
We go back to the front counter and fill out the paperwork. We pay the adoption fee and a few minutes later Angel and Rocket are brought out. We take the ropes from around their necks and replace them with new collars and leashes. Angel is interested, but Rocket is very frightened. Angel is his rock. We decide right then that they will be kept as a pair. Once they are finished with their treatment we will adopt them out together.
We leave the shelter and walk across the parking lot. Angel is happy to be outside. Rocket stays very close to her.
At the vet’s office people with dogs dressed in near human attire, ooooh, and ahhhh, then look at us as if we are horrible people. “We rescued these guys from the county this morning,” we say loud enough for all to hear. The nasty looks disappear followed by a barrage of questions. We answer each one as we wait in line again.
“Oh, I just could never work in rescue. I would be too attached to the dogs. I couldn’t do that.” The word, “I,” dominates the conversation. We wonder what it would be like to have the “I” word for an excuse as we watch our Saturday disappear.
Finally, we are at the front desk. Angel is excited, looking everywhere, seeing everything as if for the first time. Rocket is shaking and starting to pant. We need to get them into a kennel so they can relax.
We hand over the rabies certificates we got at animal control. The girl signs us in. Two kennel attendants come from the back room and take the dogs from us. We smell very bad from holding them, but it doesn’t matter. We got them out. They are saved. We can go home and bathe and they can live. It’s more than a decent trade.
Monday morning the vet’s office calls to tell us that Rocket has been neutered and Angel has been spayed. Their lives of making puppies to be sold at flea markets and roadside stands are over. We thank the girl for letting us know. The following Monday they start their heartworm treatment. Although animal control tested them, we always have them re-tested. HW treatment is too intense to proceed with unless we are sure. The vet’s office tells us they are both a very strong positive. We have to get them into a home as fast as we can. They have to be in a quiet setting while they convalesce.
On Tuesday, we check on their progress. Both are doing okay. They will have to undergo two treatments each. The dosages will be diluted and spread out over six to eight weeks. We start canvassing our list of fosters. It is imperative we get them into a home quickly.
Friday morning the phone rings. It’s the vet’s office. Something is wrong. “We just called to tell you we found Angel dead this morning," the girl says. "We’re moving Rocket to a smaller cage.”
At five years old, after probably giving birth to numerous puppies Angel is struck down by heartworms. Rocket is lost. He is frantic. We put the news of Angel out on the web. Rocket needs a home. We wait. Our fosters are overwhelmed with dogs. Some have as many as twelve in their homes. Finally, in the late afternoon we get a call from a couple who have adopted four from us. They will take Rocket. “Where can we pick him up?” Rocket goes home with them. He is very withdrawn. He eats little. He is undergoing treatment for a severe case of heartworms and grieving for his mate at the same time. We cry for him and for all the dogs like him.
Two months have passed and Rocket is coming around. He is filling out nicely and has joined in play with his foster brothers although he still stays in the background much of the time. Some day Rocket will be adopted and his memories of Angel will fade, as do all memories. For us, we wait for the phone calls that start the process over again. We are the trash men for the breeders who profit and for the buyers who don’t stop to think about what they are getting into. And for the owners who say, “Hell no. You ain't doing that to my dog,”
Hell is a relative word.
We pick-up their trash, save the ones we can, and cry for the ones we can’t.