Monday, April 26, 2010

New Family Saved!

Meet the newest family saved from euthanasia! This sweet momma cat and her 6 babies were rescued this weekend from the Paulding County shelter.

Keep an eye on the AARF website for updates about this sweet family.

**Each member of this family will cost AARF around $200 to be spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated before joining a new home. Please donate through one of the options to the right on this page to help get mom and her babies ready for their forever homes.**

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Cathartic Post - Maybe I'll Feel Better

This is Clementine. We pulled her and her sister Isabella (affectionately Clemmie and Izzy) from the DeKalb County shelter in December 2009. They had been abandoned by their owner, and lived on their own in the house for nearly a month before the landlord found them. They had been sick at the shelter, and one was recommended for euthanasia (we don't know which one). She wasn't euthanized, and she wasn't treated either. They were being held in the wildlife room at the shelter, and no one had stepped forward for them.

We decided to give them a chance. These girls have come such a long way in just a few months. They were terrified, especially Izzy. They didn't (and still won't) eat dry food, and sometimes go for days without eating wet food. We have to try a variety of different foods every day, just to keep them nourished and hydrated.

In the four months they have been with us, they have learned to play, have discovered the joys of a good brush, and have claimed their spots on the bed at night. They have been living the life they should have had all along. Their recovery from their past has not at all been easy. But their lives are so worth it.

Now, we are preparing to say goodbye to one of them. Our sweet Clemmie has been diagnosed with FIP, an evil disease that ravages the bodies of those cats it grabs hold of. There is no cure, and it is always 100% fatal. Once symptoms appear, the goal is to keep them comfortable and happy until they aren't anymore. Then, we do the best thing we can for them, and we'll do it for her.

Clemmie is our second FIP cat in a year. It seems that we take in the ones that no one else wants, and often there is a price. They struggle with health or behavioral issues. They are, by all reasonable terms, unadoptable. We often have to say goodbye to them before we should.

Ours is a heartwrenching endeavor.

Sometimes I just wish I could turn off the part of the me that so passionately cares, and just walk away. Or maybe, I could endeavor to save old buildings. At least when they would be knocked down anyway, despite my best efforts, I wouldn't have to grieve for lives I couldn't save, or ones that I could save but lost anyway. I wouldn't have to feel the overwhelming grief of knowing that this little life is dying, and in just days, it will be time for me to make the final decision to end the dying process for her, because I care so much, not because I don't.

So, why am I writing this today? I don't need emails telling me how inspiring this is, or how you think I am so awesome. I don't feel inspiring or awesome - I feel incredibly sad and broken. Your accolades aren't comfort. I am writing this today because I need to say it. I need to let out my sadness and grief, so when I go home, I can be a happier person for Clemmie to be around. She doesn't need, or deserve, my grief. I try really hard to use this blog to write uplifting, inspiring comments that might spur you to action. Today, I need to just be sad. And I need you to know how hard this is.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Inspiring Story of Hope and Second Chances

Zoe is a 7-8 year old shepherd mix that was hit by a car and left for dead with a shattered leg in a county where drivers have been known to simply drive around injured animals instead of stopping to help them. She was picked up by an animal control officer and taken to a shelter with one of the highest euthanasia rates in metro Atlanta. The veterinarian on duty for the shelter that day determined that her leg was irreparably damaged and had to be removed in order for her to survive. She also had some head trauma. The shelter was already operating near capacity and didn’t have the resources to treat this type of injury, so her prognosis was grim. Throughout the ordeal, Zoe, although shy and in intense pain, was exceptionally calm and sweet. While the vet was examining her leg, she laid her head down on the animal control officer’s lap and fell asleep. She truly seemed to savor any and all kindness and affection that the shelter staff would show her. Although all odds seemed to be against her, the vet gave her a fighting chance at a new life by taking her home with him and performing the amputation on his own accord.

Despite such a generous act on the behalf of the vet, she still wasn’t out of the woods. Zoe would need to find a spot with a rescue to help her recover. AARF received an urgent email from the shelter’s adoption coordinator asking all local rescues to take this sweet, but down on her luck, girl. It had been a tough year for our organization, and many of us were suffering from compassion fatigue, but we just couldn’t ignore their plea for help. We knew that because of her age and the extent of her injuries there weren’t many rescues that would be able to help. We quickly made room for her and got her into a loving foster home. Soon after, we found out that she was also heartworm positive.

We think Zoe was abused before finding AARF. She belonged to someone at some point, as she was already spayed when she was picked up by animal control. However, she would cower anytime she heard a loud voice or noise. It seemed as if she was always expecting someone to yell at her. She was afraid to eat or go to the bathroom if someone was nearby. Her foster family noticed that she didn’t want to come out of her crate, and they were afraid that she was giving up and shutting down.

We brought a trainer in to work with Zoe and her new foster family, and the transformation we have seen in her is amazing. She no longer tries to disappear into her crate for hours on end. In fact, she doesn’t spend much time in the crate at all anymore. She has been following her foster parents around the house and sleeps next to them at night. She has bonded with the other dogs in the house and is beginning to play. She feels better, and is learning to get along rather well on only three legs. Zoe will be done with her heartworm treatment in about 2 weeks, and will then be ready for a permanent home.

Watching Zoe recover and thrive in her foster home has breathed new life into our board members and volunteers. If Zoe can overcome as much adversity as she has, then we really can’t complain about our jobs being hard. When we brought her into the program, we expected to save one dog, but Zoe has inspired us to work harder and push forward. We are now more motivated than ever to accomplish our mission and create a world where every pet matters.

** Zoe is available for adoption. If you are interested in adopting her, you can fill out an application here.**