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Rescue – A gift of life or recipe for disaster?

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The Executive Director of any well run Humane Society will be the first to state in order to save the lives of those animals that have the misfortune to make their way to the shelter, it is imperative to have strong partnerships rescue groups in order to be successful

In the course of researching animal welfare and animal rights issues I have become aware of the ever increasing number of animals rescue facilities that have “gone bad” the result of which is the discovery and subsequent seizure of hundreds of sick, weak, miserable creatures needing care and homes.

How does this happen, how does something that was created with good intentions and great convictions become a place of pain and anguish. How does one go from taking in the homeless, weak and suffering with a goal to find forever homes to becoming a place where starvation, illness and death is the norm. How does rescue become hoarding.hoarding-1

There it is folks, the dirty word hoarding.  Regardless of how many times rescuers, shelter reformers, welfare activists say otherwise, hoarding does exist, in fact it has become so prevalent that there are studies and research being performed at numerous Universities and Medical Centres throughout North America.

Hoarding is an illness. Whether hoarding inanimate objects or animals it is till an illness but when animals are hoarded it is cruel, inhumane and just plain wrong. Animals suffer and die at the hands of those that are very ill and that are incapable or refuse to obtain help.

“Hoarding is not about animal sheltering, rescue, or sanctuary, and should not be confused with these legitimate efforts to help animals. It IS about satisfying a human need to accumulate animals and control them, and this need supercedes the needs of the animals involved.”
—HARC

Janice Palm's dogs.

There are an incredible number of people that have dedicated their lives to the rescue and shelter of dogs, cats, horses, in fact just about any animal. There are great rescue facilities that do just that, they rescue and then shelter animals until such time as they can be adopted. These animals are kept in sanitary, safe environments in which they are  fed and cared for, receive Veterinary care when required, are spayed and neutered, receive vaccinations and are free from pain and suffering. These are not the people about whom I am concerned. I am concerned about those folks that started out in this manner but then slid down a very slippery slope into hoarding hell.

How does this happen? Well, research indicates a number of reasons for hoarding  but the jury is still out on how one starts out doing good ends up going bad. It has been suggested that some rescuers are unable to say “we are full” and continue to accept animal from Humane Societies and other organizations until they are literally over run by the animals. No longer can spay and neutering be afforded so animals start reproducing within the rescue facility.  The rescuer can no longer afford Veterinary help and they are afraid to have anyone see the animals for fear they will be removed and killed. They do not wish to or are unable to admit they are in trouble and need help. So the hoarding begins. Cages are stacked one on top of the other, dogs and cats are found wallowing in their own feces. Paws and faces are burned from urine. They are starved, covered in sores from parasites and rubbing up against rusted wire cages.

There is always a great hue and outcry when a puppy mill is busted and rightly so, but a rescuer gone bad is no better than a puppy mill operator. In both cases the animals are suffering and dying in excruciating pain as a result of human indifference, illness greed or stupidity.

Those of us that rescue animals and profess to be supporters of no kill must assume some responsibility for the rescue centers to which we send the animals we “save”. It is not good enough to say we have transferred dogs and cats to foster homes and rescue groups hence the animals have not been killed thus are saved.  If we are shipping out innocent lives to a place of questionable care and potential misery how are we “saving” these animals?

Sure sending dogs and cats to rescue groups and foster homes “gets them off the books” and makes the stats look great for public consumption but if we are responsible for contributing to the demise of these animals at the hands of those that are no longer able to cope are we not part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Do No Kill shelters listed on the No Kill Communities website http://www.no-killnews.com conduct follow up visits or checks to ensure the facility is safe, clean and caring for the animals? I don’t know. I do hope that some one can give me this information with some documentation as to how this is accomplished. Is there a reporting system for when the animals are adopted or how long they are kept in the rescue facility and how they are doing in the facility? Again, I would really like to know if this is  the case and again how it is accomplished? Are these animals shipped out and then forgotten about, “out of sight out of mind”?

How do we prevent these situations?

Linda Bruno http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38978396/ns/healthpet_health/#.UTz5Qhl3Yxq

Miguel Salgado http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/world/55343491-68/dogs-salgado-ogden-removed.html.csp

Elliots Friends Rescue http://www.spca.org/duncanville10212011

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The following  are links that are educational and important reading to learn more about hoarding and how rescue can become hell.

http://www.pet-abuse.com/cases/14219/OR/US/

http://advocacy.britannica.com/blog/advocacy/2009/02/prisoners-of-love-the-victims-of-animal-hoarding/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748289/

http://vet.tufts.edu/hoarding/pubs/AngellReport.pdf

http://vet.tufts.edu/hoarding/pubs/Berry.pdf

2 thoughts on “Rescue – A gift of life or recipe for disaster?

  1. I believe that many rescues are abundantly unprepared for the landslide of pets and problems that visit their doorsteps. My experience with rescues has also proven that many cannot get past the petty inconsequential politics and personal egos that effectively leave an organization impotent. Aside from maintaining the familiar and well-trodden pathways, little in the way of new ideas are accepted. Progress is blocked. Funding avenues dwindle. Growth is stunted. Oversupply of pets and problems become a self-perpetuating cycle. How to surpass the resistance and bring a new order, while working within an existing resuce, is the over-riding question. Or does the answer really come back to establishing yet another animal welfare organization?

  2. Pingback: Rescuing a dog will change your life - Relevant Wit

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