Let me tell you a story of three beautiful girls…
Juliet. A stray found by animal control with a broken pelvis, heartworm positive. Oh, and she’s a Pit Bull.
Missie. Stray, found with a huge chain and collar wrapped around her neck. Her teeth are so worn from having nothing to do but chew a chain, she looks like an old dog.
Unknown. Old, arthritic, crippled. We couldn’t stand to leave her name as “unknown,” so we changed it to Miss Daisy.
When I went to the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare for our regular rescue shoot on Friday, the staff asked if I’d take photos of Juliet and feature her. My answer is always yes. Now, remember, she has health issues. The first two – broken pelvis and heartworms – are enough to immediately euthanize in the majority of shelters. The last – her breed – is an instant death sentence at some. But not at the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare. They looked beyond her injuries, her breed, and they’re giving her a fighting chance. The staff has rallied around Juliet and want to give her a chance to live a happy, healthy life. Maria, the vet tech featured in some photos with Juliet, absolutely adores her and asked us to help Juliet make it out of the shelter. That’s what we’re hoping to do with our photos.
So, that’s the end of Juliet’s story, right? She won’t die by the needle. She’s going to get a chance. They’ll hold onto her indefinitely until the perfect person comes along, right?
Let me leave you to ponder the outcome as we talk about the next two dogs…
A Saturday outing
Weekends are supposed to be filled with fun, enjoyable activities. My Saturday was going to consist of accompanying Dr. Sarah Gordon with 4 the Animals Veterinary Clinic back to TAW where she was going to euthanize two dogs: Missie and Unknown aka Miss Daisy. I thought I was prepared. I brought them cheese and had treats, so they would have a something good in their last moments of life. We weren’t going to take them to the “room;” instead, we were going outside so they would feel the sunshine on their face. As I got ready that morning, I was prepared, or so I thought, to be present in their last few minutes, knowing at least they had loving arms around them as they slipped away.
Why were they going to die, you ask? Because those two dogs were on the list: the euthanasia list. And although Juliet isn’t on the list yet, she could be soon. The euthanasia list is an ugly, but ever present fact of life in animal shelters across the country. The reality of municipal shelters is daily intake exceeds adoptions and transfers on a regular basis, especially in Tulsa where intake this summer averaged 60, 70, 80 or more a day. A day! With a limited number of kennels to house the animals, decisions have to be made for which dogs and cats live or die. These are not decisions made lightly. Many factors go into who makes it out, such as adoptability, temperament, health, age, and more. Whether we like it or not, shelters are not long-term care facilities nor should they be. Until society changes and our citizenry accepts responsibility for the pet overpopulation problem, kill shelters will remain a fact of life. But that’s another story for another day. This is about Juliet, Missie and Miss Daisy…
We walked into the shelter. Dr. Sarah went to get ready, I went to look for the dogs, camera in hand. I wanted to document their story in hopes of opening the eyes of those indifferent to the plight of shelter animals. I found Miss Daisy lying on a blanket in her kennel. Defeated, she wouldn’t even lift her head to look at me. I snapped several photos, then went to the other side where she finally looked my direction. Sad eyes gazed into mine and I felt the tears well up. It felt like she was saying “I’m just old, I don’t want to die just because I’m old…” I wasn’t prepared for this.
I turned away, wiping tears and trying to compose myself, only to find Missie in the kennel behind me. A heavy chain and collar hung from her neck. She approached with tail wagging, happy. I reached in and was rewarded with kisses. She couldn’t get close enough and kept trying to kiss me through the kennel. Footsteps approached and I looked up to see Dr. Sarah. “You found the other one,” she said. I nodded as the huge lump in my throat prevented words from forming. Eventually, I found my voice and said, “She can’t die…” Missie was too full of life. Maria, a vet tech on staff at TAW, just happened to walk by so we asked if Missie could have a one week reprieve. She said yes. Woo-hoo!!!!!
Then we turned to look at Miss Daisy. I said, “What are we going to do?” Dr. Sarah stood quiet for a moment, then said, “I can’t leave her here. She’s too old and it’s too hard on her.” So the decision was made. We’d photograph Missie and Miss Daisy, network the heck out of them and Juliet, and pray someone steps up to adopt. We took Missie outside, removed that awful chain and collar, gave her some cheese and snapped incredible photos. The transformation was amazing! You could feel the happiness radiate from her. No chain, sunshine, loving humans – what more could a dog want? Oh, yeah, a home.
Next, we loaded up Miss Daisy and headed back to Bartlesville (appreciate the irony; I was literally driving Miss Daisy). We made a few stops along the way and each time, I’d hang out with Miss Daisy in the back, snapping photos. It was incredible seeing how she perked up the longer she was away from the shelter. Sitting in a car, eating treats, she looked around, ears perked, enjoying the scenery. This is what life should be for an old dog, not waiting to die.
So now what? Well, we have one week for Missie, Juliet is on borrowed time as well, and Miss Daisy needs a forever home. How can you help? Adopt! If you can’t adopt, consider fostering. If you can’t foster, please network these beautiful girls. Share this blog post. Please watch and share their “Borrowed Time” video we made. Get the word out. I know we can’t save them all, but for these three, I’d really like to try.
TO ADOPT: Juliet (A059217) and Missie (A059601) are available at the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare, 3031 N. Erie Ave. in Tulsa, OK. Call (918) 596-8011 for more information. Juliet is a one-year-old female Pit Bull. Missie is a six-year-old Pit mix. Miss Daisy is available through 4 the Animals Veterinary Clinic in Bartlesville, OK. Call (918) 815-9122 for more information. Miss Daisy is seven-years-old and is a Basset mix (long body and bays like a hound!).
Saving one dog won’t change the world, but it will surely change the world for that one dog.
UPDATE 10/15/2013: Juliet is safe! Missie and Miss Daisy are with 4 the Animals Rescue and need a foster/adopter.
UPDATE 2017: Missie and Miss Daisy both passed away of old age surrounded by those they loved.