Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Expense of Rescue

The other day, I heard someone comment on a particular dog who had just been saved by a rescue group.  The dog was in bad shape.  A heartworm survivor, he had several pulmonary and heart conditions related to the severity of the disease he had just overcome.  Emaciated, he smiled through his condition and cuddled on the lap of the rescuer.  Needless to say, the expense to save just this one dog was considerable, and those expenses are not even done accumulating.  For whoever adopts this guy, they will also have to be willing to open their purses more so than another owner, for the duration of his life.

The comment overheard was one I'd heard many times before.  Paraphrasing, it is "Why do these rescue groups save these kinds of dogs?  They could use that money to save so many more lives".

From observations, I feel like the general opinion on the matter is pretty 50/50.  I can understand this person's sentiment, but I feel like they are really missing the point.  Rescue isn't an assembly line, nor is it a "mass production line" spewing out healthy, adoptable rescue animals.  It's deep, it's real, and it's hard. The key aspect is, it's about the individual.

While I think most dog rescuers approach dogs or cats as a whole, perhaps even focusing on specific breeds, the heart of the matter is it's not paperwork.  It's not getting a "list" of dogs in need, and then cross-checking that list against expense and what donations are in the tin.  It's an intimate, one-on-one experience.  These people are the heroes:  they have enough bravery to walk into a shelter, look a dog in the eye, and decide if they are going to save it's life that day.  "It's" life..  They don't see a dollar amount, they see "Sam" or "Mya", or "Dog #223".  They see a personality, they see a precious soul.

The ironic thing about expense, is that your heart really will go out to the ones who need the most care, thusly the ones who will cost you the most to save.  "Look at all that dog has been through", and yet, there he or she is.. licking your face.  Each and every moment like that reinforces *why* someone is there;  why they are a rescuer.  Let's face it, if money was the issue, would anyone rescue..  at all?

To add, these rescued dogs with these inspiring stories of survival find homes quickly.  People resonate with their struggle, and they look up to their courage.  "Cancer survivor", "abuse survivor", "neglect survivor".  Few dogs are cheap to save.  Even the most healthy of dogs require basic exams and transport.  They require food and shelter in foster.

One could look objectively and reason, saving 1 perfectly healthy dog costs.. let's say..  $200.00.  When our sick dogs come around and cost $1000 to save, it may seem perfectly obvious that money is better spent saving 5 dogs versus 1.  It seems to make perfect sense.  The problem again, I refer you to the reality.  You are not balancing a check book, and you sure as heck aren't going to profit.  For the person who adopts that $1000 dog, and grows to love him.. ask them in a year how much they'd spend to have saved that dog's life.  Perhaps if they feel they would have easily spent that grand themselves, they can become inspired to donate some money back in.

I think people underestimate the amount of love a rescuer can feel for a dog they just met five minutes ago.  Hair matted, bones sticking out, tumors.. as he licks your face.. "Well, no.  We can't take that one.  He will just cost too much".  Sounds wrong, doesn't it?  That's because it really probably rarely happens that way.  The difference between true dog lovers and those who'd abandon a dog at rising food costs is clear.  The love and passion it takes to keep a dog forever, and especially to rescue dogs, is a love so great that it cannot be articulated with any words of mine.  I think that person who says "Why do rescuers save these expensive dogs?" is asked by someone who would consider surrendering a dog who got a disease that is curable with a grand out of pocket.

I don't think it's fair to expect anyone to go to the ends of the earth financially to save an animal.  I do think that my "ends of the earth" is far more extreme than some though.  I don't think you should sell your house or your kidney to save your dog, but how dare you buy a new flat screen TV the day after you surrendered your dog for financial reasons.  Shame on you, for saying you can't afford to fix something, with the same amount of money you will readily spend tomorrow on a manicure or hair cut.  Shame on you.  And shame on you for even voicing an opinion about the finances of rescue groups.

I had a conversation with a girl one time about CGPR when it was still running.  She asked me how much it cost to adopt.  $250.00, I told her, and $150.00 for special needs dogs.  "Really?" she exclaimed, "The special needs dogs should be cheaper".  I ended the conversation, versus voicing my initial response which would have been to say "They're not used cars.".  I did, however, remind her that special needs dogs cost more to save, and the cheaper adoption donation merely reflects the acknowledgment that the owner will be spending more to care for them long term.  It's not a clearance sale.

Good for you, rescuer who saved that boy the other day.  I met him, and he will be worth every penny.  Had he been seen financially as "Dog #233", then that would belie the whole entire point of saving him.  "Dog #233 costs too much, let's skip him".  He's not a number.  He is "Jack", or whatever he will be.  And the day he got saved, someone looked into his eyes and saved *him*.

-by Shannon Murphy

If you still don't get it, watch this video:

 "Junior" came into CGPR with a broken femur, as well as heart worm.  He is in a loving home now.
"Misty" came into CGPR with both ears so heavily infected that she went deaf.  She had mammary cancer so bad, that it took 2 procedures to remove all the tumors from her chest.  She is low in a loving home.

...  this is just a small, small example of 2 lives that were worth saving at any cost.


  1. Junior is so glad for all of your help, as am I! He looks like a different dog today vibrant and playful, n he has just discovered how wonderful it is to sleep on the human beds LOL! Thank you for everything you did for him!!!

    1. We are so glad to hear Junior is doing so well! Alicia, we truly can't thank YOU enough for giving him such a loving home! He is such a special boy and was in such bad shape when he came to us, he is so lucky to have you!

  2. I know everyone looks at dog breeds and dogs are dogs. But there is something special about a Great Pyrenees, and Great Pyrenees owners. You would have to own a Pyrenees to understand. The Pyrenees is a special dog. He is a strong willed dog, and a protector. He protects the week. I just rescued my first dog ever, and he is a Pyrenees. I have always had cats. I always said dogs are to much work. I used to be able to leave my cat for a few days, with enough food and water, but with a dog you cannot leave them for more than a few hours. So my family had been bugging me to get a dog, and my first dog is now a 140 pound Pyrenees. I wouldn't trade him for anything, non negotiable. I have been reading these rescues that happen, and what I think it is, is there are some real down right mean people out there that are so heartless, that they could throw motor oil on a dog, and mistreat them. And you have to ask why someone is rescuing that dog? I cannot believe there are so many Great Pyrenees dogs that need rescue. They are very expensive in the first place. They are also a very lovable dog, very regal. If you are thinking of rescuing a dog, please give a look at a Great Pyrenees, you will not regret it.


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