A Dog on Death Row
To some, that may sound melodramatic, but it is an accurate description of Milo’s plight. Milo is a young white German shepherd, just three years old, currently being held at a high-kill shelter in Orlando, Florida. High-kill shelters are overcrowded and under-staffed, and they can offer dogs only a narrow window of opportunity to find new homes and new lives. Milo’s time is running out, for he will be eligible for euthanasia on August 2nd. This doesn’t mean that Milo will automatically be put down on Tuesday, but it does mean that if more dogs come into the shelter and they need room for them, he is likely to be one picked for euthanasia, despite being young, healthy, and friendly. I am in awe of those who work in rescue; I don’t know how they find the strength to persevere, for they get their hearts broken on a daily basis. They cannot save them all, and just as the police do, they get to see the worst of human nature. It is bound to be emotionally and physically exhausting, and yet they keep doing it, one cat or dog at a time. Those who work in horse rescue have an even more daunting challenge, of course. It takes courage and dedication and all of us who love animals should be grateful that they are willing to work on the front lines.
Milo needs a foster home ASAP. Joan, who was Tristan’s Echo angel, can’t take him herself, as she has just started to foster a young female with kennel cough, which she has to keep separate from her own four dogs. Echo does not have any foster homes open at present for Milo. If someone can commit to fostering him, Echo can remove him from the shelter and put him temporarily in a boarding kennel, but only up to a week. And they cannot do that unless they know he’ll have a place waiting for him. I admit that this case hits close to home for me. Milo is three, just like Shadow, and he looks eerily like Shadow; moreover, this is the same high-kill shelter where Tristan was held. Tristan beat the odds, thanks in great measure to Joan, who pulled him on his last day, and to Becky, who offered to foster him, and then to the thirteen wonderful people who volunteered to help get Tristan to his new home, driving him up the East Coast to me, a pilgrimage that my friend Glenne likened to the passing of the Olympic Torch. I very much hope that Milo will be able to beat the odds like Tristan.
As precarious as Milo’s predicament is, he is not even the most endangered dog at the shelter; Joan says there is a seven month old black and tan female there whose time runs out on Saturday. She is just a puppy, and her sad-eyed look is haunting. Here is her photo.
Tristan beat the odds in another way—he was so lucky to be picked up in Orlando County, even though shelter dogs there have a limited opportunity to find new homes. Had he been found in Polk County, where Joan lives, he’d have been doomed from the outset, for Polk County does not adopt out German shepherds, Rotweillers, Dobermans, and pit bulls. They are not offered to the public, are held for five days in case a rescue group is willing to take one, and then are put down, no matter how adoptable they may be. I know that cities like Detroit and Miami do not adopt out pit bulls, which are usually seized in raids on dog fighting rings, for it was believed that these dogs could not be rehabilitated.The Mike Vick pit bulls proved us wrong on that; they were given a rare chance by court order and of the more than fifty dogs taken from his property, only two had to be euthanized. Several have even become therapy dogs.So we ought never to assume that second chances will be wasted—on people or dogs. Sadly, Florida’s many high-kill shelters are not unique; this is a problem in other areas of the country, too, particularly in the South, which is why there are regular caravan runs from these shelters to shelters where the dogs will not automatically be euthanized once their time runs out.
Some of my friends have become volunteers for Echo’s transports in the wake of my adoption of Tristan, and they all say it is remarkably rewarding to know they are helping to give a dog a new home. And by helping these dogs in need, we are helping other people, too, giving joy to those who will adopt them. As I said, this is very personal for me because of my experiences with my three shepherds, all wonderful, smart, loving dogs that could so easily have been euthanized with a little less luck. I am putting up a photo of Milo; I wasn’t able to do so with the young female shepherd whose time is running out, so I just included the link for her. I am also going to post Before and After photos of Shadow and Tristan to show how an abused, neglected animal can thrive in a good home. I am asking all of my fellow dog lovers to post this blog or the information about Milo on your Facebook pages. The more people who know about his peril, the more likely it is that someone may be able to foster him and literally save his life—or the life of the little girl who may doomed to die at seven months of age.
I’ll end this by commenting again upon the enormous admiration I have for those who try to save our society’s throwaway dogs and cats, animals that were once automatically put down. Att least now many of them are given second chances, thanks in great measure to the people who work in rescue, and to those willing to consider adoption. Their efforts remind me of a story I once read, which may or may not be true. A young boy came upon hundreds and hundreds of starfish that had been washed ashore by a high tide and were dying on the sand. He began to pick them up and throw them back into the water. A man passing by stopped to watch and then said, “Why are you bothering to do this? You can’t save them all, so what difference are you making?”The boy returned a starfish to the sea and then said, “It makes a difference to that one.”