Who Rescues The Rescued?

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

I’m sure there must be ethical animal rescue groups out there somewhere (and please tell me who they are because they need to be recognized), but why do so many of these organizations leave such a bad taste in the mouth?

And what’s with the guerrilla tactics, the hit-and-run in the middle of the night, meet you in a parking lot to exchange an animal YOU’VE NEVER MET for money?  Personally, I’d never agree to adopt an animal I’d never met, but that’s just me.

I’ve heard such horror stories.  A woman I know adopted a labradoodle puppy.  Dog didn’t seem well, but she was told it was “drowsy” because it had received its shots.  Took it to the vet the next day only to discover it had Giardia (a nasty intestinal parasite that can be transmitted to people as well as other pets).  Scared and angry, she called the woman who had sold her the dog and forced her to take it back.  God knows what happened to it.   (Okay, let’s face it.  We all know what happened to it.)

Another woman picked out a dog online, did the old clandestine meet-in-the-parking-lot routine, agreed to take the dog, and 24 hours later was dealing with bloody diarrhea.  When she called the rescue group, she was told that the dog was now HER problem and that they wouldn’t return her money or take the dog back.  (To her credit, she told them “You’re the last people I’d give this dog to!”)   She stuck with the pooch and as far as I know, the dog remains healthy.

Yet another story told of two Boston terrier pups adopted from rescue.  By the end of the first week, the family had spent almost $2000 at the vet trying to save their lives.

The word SCAM comes to mind, with innocent animals as the victims.

What’s got me on this topic?  Well, I stopped in at our local Petsmart the other day to pick up a new cat carrier and they were hosting an Adoption Day event.  Since we’re thinking seriously about adopting another dog, I thought I’d go take a look. I figured it was the Humane Society or ASPCA or a reputable rescue organization running the event.

Oh.  My.  God.

I’ve never seen such awful looking dogs.  Half were desperate, screaming for attention.  The other half were listless, dead-eyed and lost.  The woman running the event (who never gave her name but said she was “from down South”) told me that all the animals had been fully vetted, spayed or neutered, and were deemed healthy.  At which point, one of the dogs hunched over and ejected a mass of (I’m not joking) HOT PINK stool the consistency of canned pumpkin.

Yeah, lady, all my healthy dogs do that, too.

I should have walked away then, but I didn’t.  My heart was breaking over these little guys and gals.  I was even tempted by one who looked like a cross between a Pomeranian and a Border Collie.  (Sweet dog, however my husband is away and I’m not about to bring a new animal into the house without us being in agreement over it.)  I went to say hello, give the fellow a few pats.  The Soul of Honesty followed me to his cage and fed me a storyline about his history, where he was found, etc.  (Yeah, like I’m going to believe you now, lady?)  There was another dog in the pen, a sweet-natured emaciated dachshund with a golf-ball sized callousy mass on one hind leg.  No joke, folks, I could count every bone in that dog’s body.  (I mean, really.  Don’t rescue places feed these animals?  Do they think a pathetic looking animal has a better chance at being adopted?  What gives?)  I stooped to pet the dog and murmured, “Oh, you’re so thin,” at which point Mother Justice informed me “Oh, we’ve had him on a diet because he was so fat when he came in.”  Excuse me?  How fucking stupid do you think I am?  I know a starving dog when I see one.

I left in despair, uncertain what to do.  My first thought was to open every crate, fill my car with dogs, and take them home for a warm bath and a good meal.  Does a corporation like Petsmart even realize how bad it makes them look, trafficking with someone who obviously (excuse me) doesn’t give a RAT’S FLYING ASS about the animals they are supposedly rescuing?

Rescue means “to free or deliver from confinement, violence, danger or evil.”  In the case of these dogs, it’s hard not believe they’ve gone from the frying pan into the fire.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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7 Responses to Who Rescues The Rescued?

  1. I’m wondering about what the heck is going with people. I’ve never encounted the situations you describe but I have heard other horror stories. Ever since childhood there have been dogs–and then cats in my life. None of them were ever purchased or gotten from the pound. They were animals that came by chance. One dog was found on a busy city street where she’d gone exploring. Some men got her off the street and one business owner with a fenced lot let her stay there for a week thinking someone would come looking for this wonderfully friendly animal. No one did. My husband then came home and asked about bringing it home considering we had two small children. I said sure let’s see how it goes. He went right back and got her. We never regretted it–though she quadrupled in size–and so did her personality, intelligence and good nature. When I first saw her I was aghast that my farm raised spouse thought she must be nearly full grown. LOL. By the time she grew fully into her legs she was a force to be reckoned with but also totally child/people/cat compatibable. I could not believe someone had NOT come looking for her in that week she spent in full view of the street playing in the fenced lot. Their loss was our HUGE gain.
    And then there was the stray survival rambo cat who came to stay by sleeping in the shade in our front yard one hot summer and who became Raptor Cat when we learned of his fierce hunting skills–he was so aggressive he chased a pit bull down the street. Yes, he did! After he finally consented to enter the house one bitterly cold winter night–he would just sit inside the door long enough to get warm for several days/nights–and we took him to the vet we discovered he’d been neutered –ie, someone had taken “care” of him previously. Apparently Raptor didn’t care too much for whatever else came with that “care” and we became “home base” when he wasn’t patrolling his territory. I was a bit worried about how the neighbors would take to his residency considering his penchant for catching birds in flight and there were many bird feeders at that time. When I went around to ask if they minded Raptor’s presence everyone assured me that they were fine with him–BECAUSE–he was waging quite a war on the rat populations several of them had been having trouble with. I’d had no clue about their rat issues probably due to big Odie dog taking care of her territory in house and in huge backyard. One neighbor even showed me the previous night’s “kill” of three large rats that he’d found near the stored boat on top of which Raptor had spent sunning himself during part of the previous day. Everyone was in agreement–“THAT Cat STAYS!”
    Um, didn’t start out with intention to write so much–but maybe it’ll balance out your recent horrors. Or just raise questions about my sanity? LOL. Peace.

    • I don’t have any worries about your sanity. When I was a kid, our pets either came via strays or the animal shelter. I don’t have a problem with the idea of rescue, but when it’s clearly a money-making proposition at the expense of the animals it makes me livid. I have a complaint filed with Petsmart and they’re supposed to be calling me in the next few days. Let’s see what they say. If they try to shrug it off, I’ll happily tell them that I no longer care to do business with them — and I’ll report all about it here.

      • I am very curious as to how they will reply. I agree with you that this is terrible behavior. What I don’t understand is how people can be so cruel and callous. And why does it take YOU to make the complaint? Coudn’t the people working at PetSmart see the condition of the animals themselves?
        Drop me a line so I don’t miss your report! Seriously. I want to know.

      • Rest assured, I’ll keep you posted. My guess is that I won’t be hearing from them at all (which, of course, is a response in itself). As for the employees….the impression I get from that particular Petsmart is that the employees are scared to death of being fired, so they won’t say “boo” to anyone about anything. The manager(s) must have approved this event and I find that atrocious. Time’ll tell…..

      • Today many people with jobs of any sort just want to keep their jobs so I do understand the employees being afraid to say anything. This is the NEW Feudalism in America.
        As for the managers–well, they migh be in a similiar position too. Maybe they didn’t have any way to deal with the reality of the situation once it was there. SO — yOU become very important as a free agent able to say whatever needs saying. Silence might be your reply. BUT–“they” do colllect information and hopefully something might be learned by “them”. Thank you for not being silent about these animals. I’m learning more and more just how powerful not being silent can be in regard to other issues. People are frightened though by the context we’re living in. You’ve made a big difference by not being afraid to speak out. Really! Namaste

      • It’s taken me a long time to find my voice. I don’t always use it in the right way (in many respects, I’m still learning how), but I’m trying. I was raised in an atmosphere of silence. Our family did not talk about things, ever, and some things that were silenced should never have been. The fear that was instilled in me as a child sometimes holds a heavy hand over my tongue, warning me to keep silent. Each time I find a way to speak out in a constructive way, I feel just a tad more free.

      • Glad you’ve found your voice. The more fear you can let go of the more you might express YOU. Families can be very oppressive even with the best of intentions.

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