The LA shelters are overflowing with dogs right now, and this is not good news. Why? Because the only way to make room for more is to start killing some of the present residence who have either been around the longest (which in this case could be 10 days or more), are a notoriously “aggressive” breed like pit bulls (don’t get me started), or have certain health challenges that would make them more “high maintenance” or less desirable for adoption. This is not a slag against the well-intentioned folks at our area shelters. It’s just a catastrophic reality of how pitifully we have failed as a society when it comes to taking care of our companion animals.
Anyway – a good friend and renowned LA rescuer posed an idea to me last week. Since most of our LA-area rescue groups are slammed to the max with dogs they are already trying to find homes for, why not go in and pull around eight of the “red-listed” (due to be euthanized any day) dogs and arrange to network them into homes ourselves, via a special “underground railroad” idea she had? This could mean a second chance at a new home for these critters. And so began our process this week of selecting the eight we were going to save…which, of course, turned into a “mandatory” 13 somewhere along the way.
The selection process was a motherfucker, to be honest. How do you choose who will live and who will be left behind to possibly die? We cannot save them all. No way. So how do you choose?
In this case, as we’re working with another rescuer who will be ultimately be responsible for the actual placement, we needed to adhere to somewhat of a criteria for the kind of dogs that she felt like she could place. Fortunately, this criteria was fairly loose and didn’t have to mean perfect little doggies who looked like they just stepped out of a “Best of Show” competition. And while we had to consider age to some degree (since most adopters aren’t looking for an older dog who only has a few years left), we were able to pull a few older scrappers who would otherwise have been put down very soon, possibly within the week.
Plus, we had to think about logistics. We would be driving everyone to their “secret” fostering destination in a Prius, so there would be limited room. Simply put, we could fit more small-to-medium sized dogs in the car than bigger breeds.
Now, about the selection process: in addition to my rescuer friend – who I’ll call “The Militant” for reasons I’ll explain in a second – we brought in our pal Parker to assist, who is a canine behavioral specialist (among other things) and spends a lot of time around all different kinds of dogs. She would be invaluable in assessing any special needs that we might need to address concerning certain dogs that we might pull. So, since the Militant was way too sensitive to go back with us to select the dogs (she stayed in the lobby doing the paperwork and gently quizzing certain people like a “militant” as to why their dumb asses were returning their animals – more on this later), it was up to Parker and I to make the selections.
So again, how do you do choose without wanting to put a pistol in your mouth during this agonizing process? For us, I think, it got down to three things:
1. We had to leave our emotions at the front door and not get caught up in the potential fate of those whom we couldn’t bring.
2. We had to stay vitally connected to our deepest intuitive sense and try to “read” who was most destined to get the hell out of there via our underground railroad.
3. We had to understand that – just as there are those who are destined to be rescued, there are those who are destined to die there.
This third point was a very profound one that Parker and I discussed. For some of these souls, it’s apparently part of their journey to die in this place, sad as it may be to us. But to them, perhaps, it’s a release from this world. They’re done. They’ve graduated from this plane. They’re ready to move on. (And yes, just like us humans, I’m convinced their journey does NOT end at the termination of this particular life.) So, in a bizarre way, those we did not choose were just as important to the process as those who we did choose.
I feel like we got it right. I feel like every dog selected was part of a bigger picture gameplan…a synchronicity, if you will. Each of these doggies will wind up in a loving home where they will have a chance to live out this life for however long they’re supposed to live. And they will enrich the lives of many other beings (human and animal) and, in return, their lives will be enriched.
And as for those who will die this week, their lives will not have been in vain. Because their deaths will all be part of the millions of dogs (and cats) who have to die at a shelter before we all wake the fuck up and start seeing and doing things differently. Their deaths will all be part of a critical mass number that must be reached – sad as it is to compile – that will eventually represent a sort of tipping point in human consciousness where a great shift will occur. We all hold a space in our minds and hearts for this day to arrive…soon!
To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that every animal who dies in a shelter and becomes part of this critical mass number wants to die. Not by a long-shot. I have images of several dogs from the shelter in my head right now who are so full of life, who I’m thinking want desperately to live, and who would be a fantastic addition to most any worthy family. Instead, many will die there, and for these souls, I will grieve at some point soon. In fact, I’m sure I’ll cry like a little pussy. But for now, I’ve gotta swallow it and get on with the business of taking the Lucky 13 out of there and off to their next adventure.
I will keep you guys updated on our journey. But for now, the Lucky 13 are:
Alma, Dakota, Redondo, Jarhead, Pearla, Zack, Chata, Luigi, Dukey, Easton, Jasper, Sailor and Tammy.
Also, this is a whole other story, but I wanted to mention that things are looking good for Mila, our miracle kitty, who we “intercepted” from the shelter last Sunday at the end of our first selection day. I’ll do a separate post about her, since her story is so over-the-top incredible and uplifting. (Talk about synchronicity!) But for now, check out these before-and-afters:
More soon, gang –