Tag Archive | petfinder

A Dog Named Blue

By Karen Hendricks

little-boy-blue-cover

Photo Credit: KimKavin.com

One of the most moving books I have ever read is Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth. Last fall, coincidentally, as my beloved greyhound was dying of bone cancer, I devoured this book, stunned at the statistics and moved to tears by the state of our nation’s animal shelters. Author Kim Kavin, a fellow journalist/writer, did an amazing job of chronicling her experience adopting her dog Blue, interweaving her narrative with eye-opening research.

My fellow blogger Ruth wrote part one of her family’s story of pet adoption, The Adoption of Fletcher, last week. Stay tuned for her next post… but in the meantime, I thought I’d open the discussion on some interesting topics that Ruth touched upon, as they intersect with the book Little Boy Blue.

If you’re an animal lover like me, I highly recommend you read the book… but if you’re a busy mom like me, here’s the basic synopsis without giving away too much of the story: Kavin found Blue through an online listing via Petfinder and applied. Blue seemed to be close by her New Jersey home. In actuality, he was at a shelter in the south, rescued through a network of volunteers and brought north. Curious, Kavin spent months retracing the circumstances that led to Blue’s adoption and discovered he was lucky to escape a North Carolina  “high-kill shelter” equipped with a gas chamber. Blue’s story is similar to many other dogs’ tales:

America is spending more than a billion dollars a year to operate animal shelters.  Some of these facilities are functioning like actual shelters, meaning sanctuaries and places of safety, while others are killing more than 80 percent of the dogs and cats entrusted to their care.  That’s four out of five dogs, all but dead on arrival at the doors of the shelters like the one where Blue was found.  Fully three-quarters of those dogs are healthy and adoptable as opposed to sickly and vicious, but only one of four dogs who end up living in our homes come from shelters in any given year.  Most people get their dogs from breeders or from pet stores while perfectly wonderful puppies and dogs are left to die in shelters every single day.  Those statistics were bad enough, but the one that got me in the gut is this:  If just two in four people, instead of one in four people, went to shelters instead of breeders or pet stores to get their next dog, then the entire problem of killing dogs like Blue would be statistically eliminated across the country. (page 55)

Blue turned out to be a sweet, loveable prince of a dog, which makes Kavin’s story all the more heart-wrenching. To think what might have happened to him… routinely placed inside a gas chamber had Kavin not stepped forward to adopt him. But the gas chamber is, in fact, the fate of other shelter dogs every day.

Kavin does a great job at presenting all the statistics in an understandable way. Later in the book, she references an article from The Wall Street Journal, which quotes John Hoyt, former president of the Humane Society of the United States, who says that American shelters in the mid-1970’s were killing an estimated 85 percent of the dogs and cats who came into their care.  By his guess, that was nearly fifteen million would-be pets a year.  Our nation’s current estimates, as many as five million dogs and cats being killed every year, are a step in the right direction—and are a credit to the people who run excellent shelters that save far more dogs than they kill.  But it’s wrenching to learn that taxpayer-funded shelters like the one where Blue found himself are still moving backward.  If you don’t count the help of rescue groups, they’re killing dogs at an even higher rate than dogs were dying across America thirty-five years ago. (page 248)

Blue - at 18 months. Photo Credit: KimKavin.com

Blue – at 18 months. Photo Credit: LittleBoyBluethebook.wordpress.com

You can follow the latest news and progress made, in the wake of Little Boy Blue being published, through Kavin’s website/blog. The very shelter that once housed Blue is starting to turn itself around. Just this past January 2013, officials dismantled and removed the gas chamber.

If you’re thinking about pet adoption, I highly encourage you to visit your local animal shelter or SPCA. Our family has adopted wonderful cats from shelters over the years. In a future blog, I might address the special plight of one breed of dog in particular–greyhounds in need of adoption. My family provided forever homes to two greyhounds over the past 15 years and I am hooked on their sweet, gentle nature. They are almost always adopted from rescue groups specializing in that breed. But after reading the story of Blue, I’d be open to adopting a shelter dog.

Other ways you can help, besides adopting:

  • Educate yourself about your local shelters. What are their procedures?
  • Volunteer at your local shelter and lend a hand. Good volunteers are almost always in short supply.
  • Donate money or resources to your local shelter. Find out what they need: pet foods, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Consider fostering animals until permanent homes can be found, either through your SPCA or local adoption/pet rescue groups.

Click here for a YouTube preview of  Little Boy Blue. To learn more, go to The Little Boy Blue website and read the first two chapters of her book for free. Warning: This will probably hook you! You will probably end up purchasing and finishing the book—or check your local library.

Food for thought: If you spend three days reading the book, then in that same time period, as many as 42,000 companion animals died in American shelters.  (page 299)

I encourage you to join me in trying to reverse this trend.

More Resources:

Click here for the ASPCA website

And click here to visit Petfinder.com

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The Adoption of Fletcher

By Ruth Topper

Fletcher!

Fletcher!

Fletcher is the furry “man’s best friend” in our household.  He recently (March 28) celebrated his 6th birthday and in mid-April we will be celebrating 4 years of Fletcher in our lives.  For many, getting a pet or having multiple pets is a very easy, painless decision.  It was not like that at all for our family.  My husband Gary and I never had any desire to have a dog.  It was enough for me to keep three kids, one husband and one plant going!

Of course, as the kids got older and most of their friends had pets, the requests for a dog became more frequent.  In the summer of 2008 after returning from our annual week at the beach we started looking at Petfinder.com and even visited our local SPCA.  We didn’t find any dogs with real potential and held the kids at bay.  As we got into late summer and the begging continued we finally had to tell the kids that we just couldn’t do it. We had one child playing travel soccer and another had just joined the midget football team.  We were going to be on the go most evenings and weekends.  It just wasn’t fair to a dog.

Our “stand” crumbled at Christmas that year.  We went to visit my sister, who at one time did have a dog and cat but both had passed away.  She had a firm stance that there would be no more pets in her house.  Well, she lost her battle over the Thanksgiving Holiday when she realized how much her younger daughter missed her sister who was at college and desperately wanted a cat to keep her company.  They adopted Jasmin by the end of the weekend!  On Christmas Eve, my family arrives at their house and all three kids are immediately “smitten” by Jasmin, the kitten.

"Smitten" by a kitten!  Thanks Sis!

“Smitten” by a kitten! Thanks Sis!

So by early January Gary & I broke down.  Who were we to deprive our children of the childhood pleasure of a dog!  We both had dogs as kids.  However, in both instances the dogs were never allowed in the house.  This was one of our big hang-ups – having a dog that might damage furniture, make “messes” on our carpet, get sick, etc.  We very quickly came to the conclusion that we needed an adult dog that was already trained and mild mannered.  I also had concerns because I had quite a few people come and go in my house with my Creative Memories business.  I didn’t want a dog that would be barking and jumping all over people and be over active.   We were back on Petfinder.com again!

We made several calls and inquiries that led nowhere …. until we found Jesse.  Jesse was a 9 month old chocolate lab and corgi mix.  He had been rescued from Kentucky and was being fostered in the Harrisburg area.  We were able to have Jesse visit our house for a few hours in early March and we liked what we saw.  Jesse came to live with us the following Friday.  Things were going well until a friend who came to visit said that he looked “bloated”.  I “blew” her off since he had just been to the vet a few weeks earlier.  That Thursday we went to a dog trainer since I had no idea what I was doing with a dog!  She immediately made the same comment as my friend.  I called the vet and got an appointment the next day.  We were told that our dog was very sick.  Jesse’s heart wasn’t working properly and he was filling up with fluid.   Her recommendation was that we should return him to the rescue group and get a healthy dog.  It was heart wrenching to take away within a week the dog that we had waited for so long.  We did learn the following day that Jesse was born with a heart defect and would be on medication the rest of his life.

Our first adoption: Jesse

Our first adoption: Jesse

It was a sad day when we told the kids that we had to return Jesse because he was a very sick puppy.

It was a sad day when we told the kids that we had to return Jesse because he was a very sick puppy.

So – the search began again on Petfinder.com.   Fletcher was being fostered at a home in the Lancaster area.  We found that Fletcher’s mother, Sasha, and her litter of puppies had been rescued from a high kill shelter in Georgia.  Several of Fletcher’s siblings had already been adopted and they were looking for a good home for him.  After two visits to see Fletcher we decided that he was the dog for us!  Fletcher arrived at our house on Easter Monday 2009. I can’t say that it was easy in the beginning.  We certainly had some ups and downs.   However that is all a distant memory!  Stay tuned for Part II of this story – Life with Fletcher!

Fletcher with his brothers & sisters!

Fletcher with his brothers & sisters!

Do you have a pet that is special to you?   Tell us how you came to adopt your pet.