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Rescue – Not For the Faint of Heart

Rescuing dogs, and running a rescue facility is definitely not for the faint of heart.  It’s dirty work, it’s tiring work, it’s emotionally draining, it’s financially draining, it’s wake you up at 2am to facilitate a rescue for a dog in imminent danger, and it’s often thankless.  To be a member of a volunteer rescue organization also creates stress as there never seems to be enough hands or money to do what’s needed, but we juggle professional and personal lives to make sure that we are there to ensure all that needs to happen, happens. Creating dog bios for posting, reviewing adoption applications, doing reference and background checks for potential adopters, arranging vet clinic visits for check-ups and immunizations, and arranging transportation for those visits, fundraising to pay for the vet bills (over $200,000.00 in 2017), not to mention feeding, grooming, kennel cleaning, laundry, ensuring yard time and walks and behavioural training sessions for those so challenged by their past that we wonder if they’ll ever learn to trust again is like conducting an orchestra with a volunteer cast.  And then there are those individuals who call into question our character and our motives because we’ve made a decision that they think is wrong.  The verbal abuse, the social media negative comments, the threats to personal safety all have come into play over the past few years.  Some days we wonder if it is all worth it. Then we look at the dogs and say yes, it is.  We are making a difference, one dog at a time.  We couldn’t do this without our dedicated volunteers who also believe that each and every dog is unique.

I write this after a couple of bad weeks and bad experiences that make me shake my head and wonder why we continue to be so very involved in rescuing dogs that have been hurt, that have been used for nefarious reasons, that come to us physically and emotionally damaged requiring not only veterinary care but love and patience and kindness. And those who are surrendered from families that they love for reasons sometimes not understandable to us, and certainly not understandable to the dog who’s whole world has been turned upside down.  And I wonder about the humans who are behind these sad stories and I question humanity as a whole.  But then I’m reminded of what a very intelligent man once said:  “Rescue: It’s not just a verb, it’s a promise”, and I reflect on all those loving dogs, despite their previous circumstances, who just needed a second (or sometimes third) chance to be all they could be once they were introduced to their new forever family and I feel the joy and soul satisfaction for doing one small thing to change the life of not only the dog, but the new family who now experience such unconditional love and trust when the dog realizes they are safe and home.  And my belief in humanity is restored when humans want to provide these dogs with a second (or third) chance, and see the joy on their faces when they meet ‘the one’.

Our adoption process is rigorous.  We screen each and every adoption application that arrives.  We ensure that we find the perfect match.  Do we miss the mark sometimes?  Yes.  We are human, our adopters are human.  Sometimes the picture of the dog that caught someone’s heart is not the dog that they imagined when they decided to welcome a dog into their home.  Thankfully these situations are few and far between, but they do happen.  And we work with that family to make things work.

Our intake process for those dogs who are being surrendered is also rigorous.  We ask that the surrendering human provide truthful information, including behavioural issues, prior to agreeing to the surrender.  We support these humans through difficult decisions, and when possible, update them.  The dog is assessed at admission and allowed a few days of ‘decompression’ prior to putting the dog out there for adoption.  There are times, however, and thankfully few, where the dog has had no previous veterinary or dental care, no training, or has been aggressive with children or other dogs, where we try our best to rehabilitate either through veterinary care or behavioural interventions.  Sadly, despite all these interventions there are times, in consultation with our vet that behavioural euthanasia is the only option.  In the case of the aggressive dog we consider the safety of both the dog and the humans.  We have, in the past, reached out to other rescue partners for assistance who may have resources we do not and may be able to make a change for the best.  But we always consider the dog, and our duty to keep that dog safe.  Perhaps a dog is triggered by children and poses a risk to little ones.  Could the dog be re-homed into a family with no children?  Possibly.  But we then have to consider that just because the new home doesn’t have young children, this does not mean that the dog won’t be exposed to them.  These behaviours could limit the neighborhood walks and limit the ability to safely have children visit.  This decision is based on the risk assessment that the vet and the rescue volunteers discuss, and is never an easy one.   The same holds true for those dogs who come to us with medical conditions for which there is no cure.  Our mandate is to keep them with us, in sanctuary, until such time that it is the kindest thing for the dog to be let go.  All of these dogs live in our hearts and are remembered with love.  There are often tears at rescue.

So, for today, I will continue on this rescue journey.  I will snuggle my own rescue guy and I will snuggle those still waiting for their home, as will all the other volunteers at Carter’s.  I will advocate for and educate about rescues. I will love them with all my heart and be sad when the ‘perfect’ adoption falls through, or we are told that they have a medical or behavioural condition for which there is no treatment or cure.  I will reflect on the joys of finding the perfect home for a dog, and the delight we see on the humans faces when we make the introductions.  I will remember the happy tears as one of the dogs goes off to their new home, with their new family.  I will try not to stress about the ongoing financial concerns, but will work diligently to raise awareness, and perhaps some funds, to keep doing what we do.  We rescue dogs.  We find our rescued dogs the best homes and we take comfort when we see all the sweet pictures of them in their new homes, being loved by their new humans, and in return being the best dogs they can be!

The same intelligent individual whom I quoted above also said, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”.  I pledge to look wide eyed and open minded and to continue on this journey, despite the stresses and challenges, because each dog deserves that.

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7 Responses to "Rescue – Not For the Faint of Heart"

  • Helen Nsirn
    April 23, 2018 - 7:49 pm Reply

    Well said!! A very candid description. Thank you

  • Anne Allison
    April 23, 2018 - 7:52 pm Reply

    My eyes are leaking after reading this. Every single one of your human rescuers deserve a hug & a medal for all you do for these dogs. No criticism from me. I am grateful you hero’s are doing what you can. Thank you one & all.💜

  • susan and Reign thompson
    April 23, 2018 - 9:33 pm Reply

    please don’t ever give up!!!! what you have done for me and my lil girl Reign formerly caramel, has made the difference in both our lives . you brought her from hell to Canada and into my heart–she is my world and is an incredible part of our world WE love our new life together . you make happiness in the lives of soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many !!!!!

  • Rix Rocket & Patrick
    April 24, 2018 - 7:36 am Reply

    Is it worth it? I can’t speak for you because I do not do your job, but I have done a job involving rescue (of humans, though) and suffered barbs and harpoons for it, so maybe I can relate better than some. Either way, All I need to do is look to my side, where a beautiful little three-leged dog is laying happily next to me, a dog rescued from the slaughterhouse in China and brought to Canada because of your big heart, to know that yeah, it’s worth it. As I recall, Eleven was the first dog from China you received and adopted out, and our story is an amazing success. Take some heart in that. We love you guys so much I can’t even say.

  • Sandy
    April 24, 2018 - 7:52 am Reply

    You have done so much good. There is a special place in Heaven for folks like you. Don’t let the few naysayers who hide behind their computers affect you and
    what you are doing. They are the loudest but they are the fewest and they are cowardly. I would like to see them show the fortitude that you folks have. You may have not saved the world but you have saved the worlds of the dogs you have rescued and homed. Keep up the great work you are doing.

  • Judi Whitehead
    April 24, 2018 - 8:25 am Reply

    Thank you to you and your volunteers for all the wonderful work you do for the dogs. Our lives have been so blessed by Carter’s with our own Marley and our grand dog Mya. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Judi, Ray & Marley

  • Isabelle
    April 30, 2018 - 3:30 am Reply

    We need more people like you in this world, so please continue with your rescuing efforts, we know its definitely not easy. And to the rest of the world who are reading this, i wish to share with you (my husband and i)our real life experience and having witness to what miracle Carter Rescue team can do, made us realised we are so blessed to have this organisation making so much efforts to save life of these helpless animals. Beginning of this year, in early January we happened to visit china for our first time with a tour company. On our last day of the tour, i happened to fall sick and couldnt join the tour to do some sight seeing in one of the tourist park at Hangzhou city, so we decided to stay and rested inside the bus while waiting for the group to return. During our resting time, we got off the bus to get some frest air and all of a sudden there came this dog, he ran towards us with a most joyful welcoming gesture, he looked so dirty and skinny, immediately we knew something was also not right, althought he was very bubbly and happy but he was shaking continously and could barely stand still as the temperature as minus 8degrees freezingly cold. Soon we realised this was a strayed dog, he has been starved under this unbareable cold temperature for however long it has been, as he was living on the street for so long without proper foods, his ribs were showing through a thin layer of malnutrition skin and hardly much furs, surpringly he is still surviving. After spending a short time with him and feeding him with some leftover foods from our bags (as it was unfortunate that there were no foods stall around the area). Our group returned and we were due to head to the airport for our flight back home.
    Before we get back to our bus, we wrap him up with a large scarfe to keep him warm, he was so intelligent that he knew to stay still andnot to follow us anymore as we have to leave.
    At this point, my husband made up his mind he must find help to save this dog, he mananged to find a dog rescue company named “CARTER DOG RESCUE” on the internet. An email with full desciption was forwarded to Carter and to our surprise we got a reply from CARTER almost immediately when we arrived in our hotel in hong kong, Carter Rescue team worked so deligently and promptly that they wanted to know the exact location of this dog so they could send out the rescue team quickly. After a few back and forth emails with more details, within a few hours we got a message from CARTER and a picture of the dog and the scarfe, we recognised the scarfe and immediately have no doubt it was that dog (i was in tears because of joy). My husband and I even up to this day, still couldnt believe how kind and amazing this rescue team from carter are. The people that were involved in this rescueing efforts are from Carter team in Canada, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Thankyou guys in Carter, we have the greatest gratitude for you guys to turn this into a happy ending. As this dog is now in Canada and up for adoption.

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