The Safety Net Story
The reasons for people wanting to re-home their senior pet range from the ridiculous to the tragic. But the bottom line is that a pet is at risk. We want to avoid them having to go to a scary shelter with lots of animals and limited staff. Not to say that all shelters are terrible – they are not!!! But the nature of a shelter can be terrifying for a pet who has lived in a home environment for most of their life.
Even though our initial response might be horror that someone wants to give up a pet, in my opinion we should not be judgmental. Keep in mind the old saying “walk a mile in someone’s shoes!!!” You just never know what someone is going through.
Our focus needs to be on helping keep the pet safe. Sometimes we can assist by giving suggestions on how to resolve a situation, but in some cases the pet simply needs a new placement.
There are two things that are uppermost in the heartbreak category for me when responding to a re-homing request. The first is having to say “No – we cannot take your pet” because the Sanctuary is at maximum capacity. The second is after working hard to network, not finding a placement and leaving the situation in limbo with an owner who no longer wants their pet, for whatever reason.
When I have success in finding a great new situation for a pet it is wonderful and exhilarating! But sadly, too often you will find me walking around the Sanctuary looking at the residents who are safe and loved and just sobbing for the one I couldn’t help.
At HWAH we didn’t just want to say – “Sorry, we can’t help you” – so we started what we fondly call our Senior Pet Safety Net. Over the years many different volunteers have helped us with this project, and I continue to work on it daily with our Asst. Director, Lori and Volunteer, Lisa pitching in when needed.
Here’s how the process works:
- A request comes in to HWAH, and after reviewing the submission, we send the owner a link to our re-home form to collect detailed information.
- Armed with the details and some good photos, we send emails to our Rescue Partners and post the story on our Safety Net Facebook page.
- If none of our Rescue Partners can help, we send emails to additional contacts and any rescues who might specialize in a certain type of pet.
Sadly, it seems smaller dogs are more easily placed while cats and larger breed dogs take much longer and require more effort.
A recent example is Maggie.
- This 12-year-old pup is the product of a “broken home.” The children she grew up with now live elsewhere.
- Her “Dad,” a police officer who was hurt on the job and is now disabled, is no longer capable of taking Maggie for walks or even throwing the ball.
- Her “Mom” now needs to focus on caring for her husband and has had to get a job outside the home.
- Maggie is not getting the attention, or exercise, that she needs. Her family wants better for her.
After contacting our relevant rescue partners and no one was able to help, I began to share with other rescues. I sent out emails and made calls to 22 rescues in our area and even beyond in hopes of finding a placement for Maggie but had no success.
So sadly, the family and Maggie are now in limbo, and she may end up in the local shelter. Once again, I caution against judging the family and instead concentrate on how to help this sweet pup.
And that brings me to YOU!!! As with so many other things in life – to be successful, it often takes a village!!
I wish with all my heart that YOU will join our Safety Net village and help us to help those without a voice.
Ways to Help:
- Become a Foster home for a rescue group near you.
- Be a Sharing Warrior – share all our social media posts for re-homing a pet far and wide.
- If you have a rescue contact, let us know and help us to network with them.
- Give a gift to our K-9 and Kitty Medical Miracles Fund, so we can share more medical grants. The grants help to cover the veterinary expense to get a pet ready for adoption or foster care.
Be “Medial Miracle Maker” today! Your support of $ 5 or $ 15 or even $ 50 will help bring a dog or cat closer to finding a forever home. Thank you for being our partner in this mission to help senior and special needs animals.