‘Relief’ is the operative word at A‘R’NO
Peter, now a stunning black pit bull, came to ARNO heartworm positive, and in a condition that took months to bring him to full health. He is now in a loving home, happy and healthy. Photo: Laura Richard
Recently while attending a conference in our state’s capital I was surprised by a national organization representative’s comments about ‘rescue organizations.’ I could tell by her fervor that this was something long thought about and hashed over in her mind, and she probably had firsthand experience as well. She basically stated that rescue organizations do no more than take people’s pets and rehome them. I was shocked and so were the two ARNO volunteers with me. The moment did not pass without me taking the opportunity explaining the great lengths that we go to find an original owner. But her comments did get me thinking more about lost and found pets in today’s post-K arena.
At ARNO when an animal is found by one of our volunteers who work the street trapping ferals or assigned to indigents, or a good Samaritan who surrenders a found pet to us, we go to great lengths to put out notice of the ‘found’ pet. We take photos of the dog or cat, a full description of where the animal was found, and post the pet on a flyer in the neighborhood where it was found, as well as send that ‘found’ notice with photograph to the area shelters. We send to all area shelters because very often animals are picked up and brought into another area and then released. Our ‘legal hold’ of the found pet is three weeks minimum to allow the owner time to find the pet. We scour ads in the local newspaper and the neighborhood forums and CraigsList. We also post the found pet on nola.com and CraigsList. If there are vet offices in the vicinity of where the pet was found we post flyers in their office on their bulletin board. This may not be enough according to the representative who was so opposed to the word ‘rescue’ for organizations like ours. (See “Lost and Found Pets Resources” below at the end of this story.)
One of five two-week old kittens found after a recent rainstorm and flood in the outskirts of New Orleans. Newborns require feeding every four hours and manual expression to move their bowels and empty their bladder. Photo: Laura Richard
When ARNO finds an owner, and the dog is not neutered or heartworm positive, or has other medical problems we then go into our educational spiel… we even offer to sterilize the dog to prevent unwanted puppies or kittens. Ninety-nine percent of the caretakers react favorably, some saying that they never could afford the spay/neuter, others clueless about heartworms. ARNO is able to spend the time to educate, assist and go from there for the benefit of the pet.
Bottomline our rescue service is relief for the animals we take in… Relief from suffering, pain, starvation and loneliness. There Is a delicate balance of taking in animals depending on their need. Obviously as a no-kill shelter we have to have space available — an isolation spot — for the new animal, and our budget must include what could be the worse case scenario for the medical needs for each and every animal housed at our triage shelter.
She was right… not all ‘Rescue’ groups are concerned with reuniting pets with owners
This past week there was an occurrence that now makes me see what this national rep was talking about. A breed rescue would not return a newly acquired dog to a man because of the circumstances surrounding his ‘giving the dog away’ to someone he thought would make a good home. The dog got away from the new home in a little over a day and the girl that found the dog put an ad on CraigsList and turned the dog over to breed rescue. The many respondents to the ad, all trying to help this man get his dog back, were deemed ‘suspicious’ by the rescue organization. In fact the rescue group denied having the dog when the original owner contacted them. Long story short, the dog was returned to the owner but through the vet who had the dog for the breed rescue group when the man presented proof of ownership.
Following this instance I was the recipient of multiple emails about how the man did not deserve the dog, nor the woman who had accepted the dog from him. He was portrayed as a bully, that he probably beat his wife or at best kept her under his thumb. Amazing… all this they learned from the dog I guess, because they had minimal contact with the original owner of the dog. Possibly none of the people who had the dog would have passed any adoption application review, and that is our discriminatory right when we place homeless animals into a new home. Animal welfare and humane organizations want to make sure it is the right match, for both the adopter and the pet, and that the animal has the best possible chance to be well cared for its lifetime in a new home. What concerns me is any group thinking they have a right to someone else’s property. There are agencies to contact if you believe the pet is abused, mistreated or neglected. Reports can be filed with the county or parish shelters, even the police. On the other side of the coin, stolen pet reports can be filed at the municipal shelters and/or police or sheriff’s departments.
Aubrey is just one of many pets who have come into our shelter that would not have a chance in a traditional shelter. Requiring months of care and rehab, Aubrey is now happy in a home with other dogs and his humans in Rockville, MD.
Photo: Laura Richard
We all [should have] learned at Katrina — there were thousands of reasons people left their animals, most out of their control, and there were thousands of types of owners… different races, different socio-economic levels, different ages, but one thing was sure… they all loved their pets and anguished over their death or their disappearance. As a rescue organization we are not judge and jury, we are only relief for the animals. Louisiana law through the Attorney General’s office backed up original owners’ claims after Katrina… pets are personal property [sic] and the statute states that you can make a claim to return missing property for up to three years, and have a right to get your property back once appropriately identified.
This is not an editorial against a specific rescue group. It is meant to be a wake up call to rescuers to operate appropriately where it concerns a found pet. And an alert to those who pick up pets on the street and consider themselves rescuers yet are not willing to take full responsibility for the pet’s care or the cost of that care.
Blackie came to ARNO with a trauma-related diaphragmatic hernia and a broken leg at the hip, most probably a victim of abuse or a hard hit on one side. The hernia condition was an emergent situation, since one of the lungs was depressed enough to give him great difficulty breathing. Blackie is now in a happy home with feline brothers and sisters. Photo: Traci Howerton
Rescue is a word used by many, practiced by few
To ARNO rescue means taking an animal off the street in a condition that would warrant them not surviving either on the street or even considered for adoption in their current state at a municipal shelter. They are the unadoptables.
We are not looking for pets to rehome. We are looking for companion animals who cannot survive under their current circumstances, those are the pets admitted to our triage shelter if we have space. This can be an older cat who is now homeless from death of their caretaker, a dog abused or showing the ravages of long-term street life, including heartworms, or a breed of dog not likely to be adopted because of health or behavior issues… pit bull terriers and cockers come to mind. (Okay, so I have a soft spot for Cocker Spaniels!) There are the emergencies as well — dogs drowning in canals, kittens embedded in a wall, dogs found down with a collar embedded in their neck, four-day-old kittens with a dead mom, pregnant feral dogs and cats on the street, severely injured dogs and cats, the too old or the too young… none will survive on their own.
Lost and Found Pet Resources
Lost or found pets should be reported to local shelters in your area, including a picture and the street and cross-streets where the animal was lost or found. Post flyers in the neighborhood where the pet was lost/found. Advertise in the local newspaper, here the Times-Picayune. Most daily newspapers do not charge for a lost or found pet ad, albeit a small classified ad. Place a ‘blind’ ad on CraigsList (without the picture), local neighborhood forums (well used here since Katrina), and in vet offices all around the city. Remember people sometimes use vets that are not in their neighborhood, so really try to cover a large area with veterinary clinics. Plus there are literally dozens of websites that will help you find your pet or that you can post a found pet. Petfinder.com and Petharbor.com are great sites. Petharbor.com even has a ‘lost pet postcard’ service that will send out postcards in your area with a picture of your pet. Google ‘lost pets’ or ‘found pets’ and you will find dozens of sites to help you and on which to post. If your pet is microchipped and found and brought to a vet, they will be scanned and voila! Also animals brought to municipal shelters are also scanned upon intake. If not brought to a place that scans, the chip will help prove ownership. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) advises you to post lost or found reports at shelters within 60 miles of where the pet was lost/found. Make sure to always have a picture of your pet in case they are lost and do try to have your pets chipped as you can afford it. Many humane organizations do low cost ‘specials’ on chips from time to time, call and ask your local shelter if microchipping is available at a reduced price. Veterinary offices usually charge from $25 to $40 for a microchip in our area.
Granted we cannot take in all the homeless animals who need assistance, but to the ones we can take in it makes the difference between life and death. But we can work with people who are willing to foster and care for an animal, with all medical provided by us, if they are willing to follow our protocols. It has to be a give and take… they have to be willing to help us to help the animals.
To many people ‘rescue’ is just another word for ‘picked up.’ ARNO gets a dozen calls a day from people who have ‘rescued’ animals and want us to take the pets. Well if you rescue animals, you go the whole route if at all possible… foster, shelter, feed, do the medical care needed, and find an appropriate loving home if you cannot keep the pet permanently. Rescue is not finding someone to take over the responsibility you assumed when you picked up a pet off the street… ‘I can’t keep because I have too many animals,’ ‘I have an aggressive dog so I cannot keep this poor little dog,’ ‘my landlord won’t let me have pets so I have to find a place for this animal this week, but I ‘rescued’ him two months ago.’ Never does a single person say, “I will pay the expenses for you to shelter, feed and care for this animal until you find it a home.” Rarely the ‘rescuers’ give a donation to even help with the care. But no one’s psyche wants to deal with bringing the pet to a municipal shelter, especially if the animal requires medical help. They know the reality. There are more animals coming in every day to shelters in this country than there are going out: simple math. Statistics show that the homeless animal problem is greatest in the southern states. Of course it is, we don’t have winters that clear out the strays, and our reproduction season is all year long.
The sad part is people just don’t realize that ‘rescue’ is done every day by the municipal shelters through their animal control officers. Municipal shelters do euthanize, but they euthanize because of space availability and adoptability. That does not diminish their rescue work, and the fact that they must respond to complaint calls as well as take in everything that walks through their doors as surrenders. The municipal shelters usually beg rescue organizations or breed rescues to pull, usually at no cost or a nominal fee, dogs and cats to free up a kennel. Some organizations, like the LA/SPCA, have a rescue person on staff to contact independent rescue organizations about pets they have on hand who are not considered immediately adoptable (heartworms, food aggression, cage aggression and the like). There is not enough time to work with behavior problems or long-term health concerns because of the amount of animals that flow into these shelters on a daily basis.
Assist your local shelter and foster or adopt
If you are a potential adopter looking for a specific size, temperament or breed of pet, contact your local municipal shelter first, and/or view their listings on Petfinder.com. If you are a rescue organization and would like to work with area municipal shelters helping them move specific animals out of their shelters contact:
- LA/SPCA, Laurie Weisberg
- Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter Westbank, Jacob Stroman
- Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter Eastbank, Jenn Huber
- St. Bernard Parish Animal Shelter, Beth Brewster
- St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter, Angie Robert
- St. John the Baptist Parish Animal Shelter, Linda Allen
- Terrebonne Parish Animal Shelter, Valerie Robinson
To see the adoptable pets at ARNO you can view our Petfinder listings by going to the ‘foster/adopt’ bar on this site. We are open to the public seven days a week, from 3pm to 7pm daily. We suggest you request an adoption application and get preapproved for a pet by emailing email@example.com and make the process a little faster. Rarely do humane organizations do same day adoptions; there are exceptions but best to have your application in as soon as you can. Volunteer organizations are at the mercy of their volunteers’ schedules, so are not as quick as municipal shelters with paid staff on hand to serve the public more promptly.
Help us relieve more animals’ suffering and disease
If you would like to help ARNO continue our care for the ‘unadoptables’ please donate today. A gift of $10 is a big help to our all-volunteer nonprofit, and you know 100% of your donation will be used for the animals. All gifts are tax deductible to the full extent the law allows. Thank you for caring!
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