Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shame On The Shelter! Devin's Story...

On Christmas day, I learned of Devin, a young male GSP in an Indiana shelter. He was heartworm positive, and needed a rescue to take him in. I replied to the e-mail, and told them I would begin searching for a foster home. On the day the shelter re-opened (Tuesday the 28th), I left a voice mail at the shelter, expressing my interest in Devin. I had located a foster home and was ready to commit to him. I followed that up with an e-mail to the shelter director.

I heard back from the director later that day. She told me she was thrilled that we were going to take Devin, and asked for the necessary paperwork from the rescue (vet reference, copy of adoption contract, 501c3 papework). I provided all of the material, and told her I would begin working on a transport. She replied to say one of the shelter workers or volunteers would take the first leg of the transport. I told her to make arrangements for his vaccinations, etc., and that I would call the vet with our rescue credit card number.

On Jan. 30, I sent her the "run sheet" for the transport, which was to take place the following Saturday (since that weekend was New Year's weekend). She replied back to tell me that things had changed, and that Devin may be going to a "teaching program" at a vet tech school in Ft. Wayne. I almost couldn't believe what I was reading. He had a commitment. He had a rescue. He had a foster home. When adopted through us, he would have a safety net for life through our adoption contract. He could never again be surrendered to a shelter or pound, as we would take responsibility for him for the rest of his days.

My mind was racing. What was this program all about? I have heard horror stories about dogs being poked and prodded with needles, etc. Sometimes, they take "unadoptable" dogs so they can practice on them, then euthanize them when they are "finished" with them. I was OUTRAGED! I could not believe she would let this happen to Devin. There were countless other dogs at the shelter that did not have another option. I don't want to see ANY dog go to a research situation, but if a dog HAD to go, why Devin???

She promised she would "get back to me ASAP" at the beginning of the week to tell me what was going to happen, and whether the school would be taking him. I wrote to her, offering to pay whatever fee the school was paying for Devin. Anything, just to make sure he could come to rescue. I didn't wait for her call, and decided to call her myself. Devin was already gone! I asked her where he would live (kennel, metal crate, etc.). She assured me he would be "fostered" by one of the students while he undergoes heartworm treatment. She also assured me that he would be placed for adoption at the end of his time in the program. I asked her if she could please connect me with the director of the program, so I could inquire about adopting Devin. She said she would call ASAP and get back to me.

Days passed...I heard nothing. I called. She didn't call me back. I e-mailed. She didn't respond. Finally, I got her on the phone. She insisted she left a message for the program director, and would follow-up with me. She didn't. So, I called the school myself yesterday. I spoke to the director. She said she had not heard from the shelter director, and did not know that we had secured a spot for Devin. She told me she would have been happy to have us adopt Devin, but one of the students has expressed interest in adopting him. She said a vet tech is "an animal person" and that he would obviously have a loving home for life. I inquired if they have a contract, so Devin would never again find himself changing homes or in a shelter. She said they do not.

I told her that I have taken owner surrenders from vet techs several times through my years in rescue. As a matter of fact, I have one right now. A nine year-old male. Mom is a single parent and can no longer afford to care for him. Just because you choose a profession centered around animals does not mean you will be a committed owner for the life of the dog. This student is young, she has her whole life ahead of her. I informed the director that the MAIN reason for owner surrenders of GSPs is the arrival of human children. Second to that is moving to a place that won't accommodate the dog. Life changes spark surrender. Period. And this young girl has countless life changes ahead of her. I can only pray she will make a commitment to Devin for the rest of his years.

Devin is not being fostered in a home. The shelter director lied about that. He could have endured his 30 days of heartworm treatment on a soft sofa, next to his foster parents, in a warm, comfy environment. Instead, he will be alone 20+ hours per day. They have had him for two weeks, and still haven't started his treatment. What gives???

The director of the vet tech program told me that it was her understanding that a rescue did inquire about Devin, but they didn't want to pay for his heartworm treatment or neuter. The shelter director knew better than that! We would have paid for everything! I also understand that the shelter receives vaccinations and care through the program, and in exchange, they release to the program the dogs of their choice. I understand the financial constraints of a small, county shelter, but again, Devin had OPTIONS. He had a chance. He had a future ahead of him, in the hands of people who know the breed, and understand the type of home he will require.

All I can do is say a prayer that Devin's future is a bright one. I pray he endures his heartworm treatment without incident, and perhaps someone will take some time each day to sit with him in his kennel, pet him, and let him know he is loved.

Shame on the Shelter!