I wanted to share a case with all of you, that really touched my heart on many levels. It all started when I read an email entitled “Urgent – My Baby”. As you can imagine, I receive a lot of urgent email pleas, usually from people trying to re-home their dog, or asking DDR to rescue a particular shelter dog. As a form of self-care, I limit the amount of messages and the types of messages that I will read. This one appeared to be something different. Jennifer, Baby’s “mom” was desperately reaching out to anyone and everyone who could help her redeem her Chihuahua named Baby. The fees totaled $385, and every day that Baby remained in the shelter, the fees increased by $50. I immediately thought about what this dog owner was going through, as someone who did not have the money to get her dog back. Then, I checked myself, thinking, this dog is Orange County, I have to set boundaries, and just because someone is homeless and loves their dog doesn’t always mean the dog is better off going back to the owner. I had nothing but this email to prove to me that Baby’s case was different.
Even though I was going on a hike, more self care, and I told myself that I was going to be one of several that would donate, I replied back to Jennifer, asking her how much money she had raised, where in Orange County was Baby impounded, and to please send me her phone number so that we could talk. Within minutes, I received a reply. We talked, and within a few minutes, I knew from a lot of experience that the fees were accumulating faster than she could raise funds. With a very limited income, some recent health problems, which was the cause of Baby going to the shelter, she did not have any money raised. From what I could hear, her network of friends were in similar situations to her current situation. She went on to tell me she applied to other dog rescues and programs, and I was the first one that had gotten back to her. I have to admit, I had a tinge of regret for getting involved as soon as we hung up. I knew that this wasn’t going to be an easy case.
I cut my hike short so that I could speak to someone at the Orange County shelter about what it would really take to get Baby back with his mom. After being on hold for 20 minutes, it was now 1:30, the shelter closed at 5:00 which meant Jennifer had to get over there now. When I called Jennifer, telling her to go to the shelter and that DDR would pay all the fees, as long as she agreed to use her free spay voucher, she was ecstatic, and very grateful. However, she wasn’t anywhere near the shelter. She had been driving around all day trying to raise money. When we finished our conversation, practicing non control over a situation that I really had very little control, I thought this is a 60/40 60% chance I’ll hear back from her later today. You might be thinking, that’s not nice, or why wouldn’t you have more faith in her, and her commitment to her dog? Experience and a lot of counseling has taught me to lovingly detached from the situation. My offer was there for the taking, and now it was up to her to put the plan into action. Full disclosure, back in the day, when I started DDR, I would have controlled every aspect of this case, drove to meet her, made everything happen so that poor Baby didn’t have to spend one more hour in the shelter. I’m grateful that my mind doesn’t have to suffer that way anymore because I doubt I would still be involved in animal welfare.
Fast forward to after 5:00PM, I was about to feed the dogs at the kennel dinner, and was thinking, no call, how sad, she never made it to the shelter. Just then, I got a call, it was Jennifer, she had been at the shelter, proving that Baby was indeed her dog. We both thought that all I had to do is speak to a staff member, give my credit card number, and Baby goes home, because that’s what we both were told. The dogs’ dinner got put on hold while I was put on hold, only to find out that the shelter would not accept my credit card, DDR’s credit card, cash, it had to be a business check. Staying positive, I told Jennifer, I’ll send volunteer Noemi down to the shelter when they open at 11:00 since she doesn’t live too far away. We were all set for our meeting at 11:00 Sunday morning.
Sunday morning, I’m shopping for yarn, yes I love to knit, when I get a text from Noemi, “Where is she?” Shoot! where is this woman, now I’m kind of mad. 20 more minutes goes by, now I’m thinking, this was a waste of time, and maybe Baby is better off being adopted. Then I thought about some of the personal details that Jennifer had shared with me, took a deep breath, called, text, and emailed Jennifer. The message was that Noemi could wait another 15 minutes and after that, unfortunately, DDR would not be able to help her. Just about when I was ready to give her, her boyfriend called me, explaining that they were on their way, they were very sorry, and to please wait. Of course Noemi waited, met with Jennifer, met Baby, who clearly loves her mom, and spent some time learning that she had always wanted to spay and neuter Baby’s parents. Baby was the result of an accidental litter. During COVID, she had called around to various hospitals, trying to get the three dogs sterilized, but it was beyond difficult. Noemi assured her that we understood, but now there is no excuse not to spay and neuter because she has our organization’s support. She explained a lot about what led to her becoming homeless, her hospitalization, and her life in general. Like many of the pet owners we help, “Life” is often the reason why pets do not get spayed and neutered. It can be free, even accessible, but for a small percentage, who according to my theory, produce the most unwanted litters, they need a case navigator, counselor, a person who will listen and care. Isn’t that we all want in life?
For anyone reading this post thinking that I didn’t judge her, her situation or how she handled things, I did, and I think anyone who loves animals and is honest with themselves would also wonder, “Why is it so hard to do the right thing?” I could write a book to answer that question, and this post has gone on far too long. I hope you, our supporter knows that when you donate, you help us save lives of dogs, but I would like to think that we restore hope in people who otherwise feel pretty hopeless.
The grand total to get Baby out of the shelter came to $451.39, not including spay surgery. The shelter would not take our business check, even though I was told they would. Noemi had to call her boyfriend Albert to come to the shelter with his credit card. I am grateful for both Noemi and Albert’s dedication to DDR always. PayPal reimbursement made, grateful text and a call from Jennifer who wrote, “Your organization may have very well saved Baby’s life in more ways than one. Everything happens for a reason and you have been nothing short of a blessing to me and my life.” Every case and every pet owner is a teacher to me, and an opportunity to do service because we all need help sometimes.
Thank you as always for your support, and for taking the time to read my post,