Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The story of Cee

My blog is usually about the joy that animals bring to my life. I hope it also acts as a venue to educate those who might, by chance, end up here when googling for information about animals. It is about animal care and everyday life and our human responsibility as stewards of the earth.

Sometimes, however, I get so angry at the sorry group of people who call themselves humans. There is little humanity in the actions of some. And today I am angry. And so I am going to share with you the source of my anger – the story of a dog whom I will call Cee. It is hearsay and there may be another side to it – I am reporting only what I have been told of the situation by others in the rescue community.

About a month ago, a woman contacted some people involved in animal rescue. She wanted to rehome Cee who had very serious skin problems – likely an autoimmune problem exacerbated by allergies. People in rescue stepped up to offer financial help with vet costs (one of her big concerns as she is a single parent) and advice and direction on addressing canine skin disorders. One group said they had no space at that time but would pay all costs for the dog to remain in the person’s home while they looked for a new home – the woman would be fostering the dog for the rescue until that time. The woman refused their offer; she said she wasn’t going to nurse the dog back to health just to have Cee placed somewhere else.

Another rescuer offered to pay the vet costs with no strings attached – her offer was ignored or refused. Bottom line was that the woman wanted the dog gone – as is so often the case, her excuse that she couldn’t afford the bills was just her attempt at justifying her lack of heart.

This week, she contacted another person in rescue, saying she’s taking the dog to the pound if someone doesn’t take her immediately. It’s no coincidence that she “needs” Cee out NOW – the woman is heading off on vacation. (Edited to add: it has since been determined that this is not the truth - whether someone just misunderstood or the woman lied in order to put pressure on the rescues, who knows????)

Cee is apparently in such bad shape her skin is practically falling off – she is in pain, she is itching constantly, she is tearing and biting at her skin, she is unloved and unwanted. And the woman can’t be bothered with her any more. So she’s given rescue 24 hours to “fix” her problem for her and then she will take Cee to the pound.

I have nothing against shelters and pounds – the workers in them, with few exceptions, do their very best with the limited funds and time available. But they are not the place for special needs dogs. Cee will deteriorate further from both the stress of life in a kennel with other stressed out dogs, and lack of the very costly supplements and premium foods needed to try to address her problems.

Because Cee is an owner surrender, some rescues won’t take her. They argue it is the responsibility of the owner to care for her – rescues are not a dumping ground to enable people to shirk their responsibilities. I agree wholeheartedly that the family should honour their obligation to Cee, but fact of the matter is that they aren’t going to.

So instead Cee will be placed in yet another stressful situation where she will deteriorate further. Eventually she will deteriorate to the point that the shelter euthanizes her either out of compassion or due to a lack of space - the unadoptable ones are euth'd first. Or perhaps, at that point, a rescue will decide to accept her and will place her in foster care where she can receive the help she needs – if it is not too late.

It breaks my heart to know that poor dog will have to suffer even more at the hands of humans who have the ability to help.

I cannot take Cee into my own home – an important part of caring for animals is knowing your limits. But I do believe it is kinder to help this very ill dog to die than to create conditions that will make her situation even worse. And so I have offered to help in the only way I can – to cover the costs and hold Cee in my arms while a vet euthanizes her. I will take her to my own vet if necessary, though I would prefer it to be done at the woman’s home, so Cee will not be stressed further with a trip to the vet. And I would like the woman and children present so Cee’s death will be forever part of their memory of the experience and responsibility of owning a pet.

I have no idea if the family will take me up on my offer, or if they will even be told of it by those who are in contact with her. Perhaps it is already too late. But the offer had to be made -- it simply is not right that Cee should have to suffer even more than she already has just because of people’s stubbornness or unwillingness to put the needs of the animal first.

Those of us who love animals and take our responsibilities seriously will never be able to save the world. But if each of us does what IS within our means to do, if each of us helps end suffering one critter at a time, then we will have the right to call ourselves human.

Anything less is inhumane.


Anonymous said...

Take heart, Jean. I have seen a couple of cases where dogs with HORRIFIC skin problems ended up in shelters, and were then nursed back to full health, usually in foster care with a shelter staff member or volunteer. While ending up in a shelter might sound like a terrible thing, it may be the best outcome for Cee if it gets her out of that uncaring home and into kinder hands. And if the shelter deems her too far gone to rehabilitate, she will at least have an end to her pain. People really suck sometimes, but thankfully there are others who make up for them.


Anonymous said...

Jean...that is so sad. Please let us know the outcome of poor Cee's situation.

Anonymous said...

I think a little prayer goes a long way and I will ask for help on his behalf tonight.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jean,
Such a sad story, hope it all works out for Cee.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

What a kind offer you have made for "Cee" Jean. Sadly, sometimes it's the best us humans can do for animals in need.

I hope it's not necessary, but if it is, thank you for offering this gentle passing.


Jean said...

My offer has not been accepted; instead, it looks like Cee will be going to a private shelter/rescue.
Sadly, this particular solution does not make my heart sing. While Cee does not lose her life, the place she is likely going cannot, in my opinion, provide her with the kind of one-on-one care she requires.
It is not that the place is a bad place, but I do NOT believe it is the RIGHT place for THIS PARTICULAR DOG.
If the dog's skin and temperment issues are the way they have been described to me, Cee needs a stress-free environment with closely monitored food and supplement management, and needs to be either the only animal in the home or to be carefully supervised with other well-socialized animals. Instead, she will now have to share a household with many, many other animals where she will, intentionally or not, have access to foods that are not appropriate for dogs with such severe skin disorders/allergies. And it is highly unlikely that the root cause of her skin disorder will every be determined under those conditions, therefore her suffering will continue.
And that's all I will say on this topic.
May the Great Spirit watch over you, Cee, and bring you relief from your suffering.