By Kailyn LaVoie, Love-A-Bull Board Secretary
In rescue, we are oftentimes approached to step in when dogs are being neglected and/or abused. Some common scenarios that we hear include:
“My neighbor mistreats their dog. They are kept outside all the time without adequate shelter or veterinary care.”
“My roommate does not take care of their dog. They are left in their crate all the time. I do my best to walk them when I can, but I’m moving out next week and I worry they will never get let out.”
“There are dogs being fought in my neighborhood. Please save them!”
Unfortunately, as a rescue, we do not have the authority to step in in any of the scenarios. Our job comes once the dogs have gone through a legal process. This is how we met two of our special Adopt-A-Bulls, King and Tiger.
Tiger’s rescue story
Tiger came on our radar in the summer of 2020. A small, rural shelter in Texas reached out regarding a dog that had come through their care on four separate occasions, each time in worse shape than the time before. Because of the stray hold rules for the shelter, the family had a certain amount of time to reclaim Tiger and the shelter had to comply.
On the fourth time, after seeing the weight he had lost and the condition of his skin and teeth, the staff knew they had to find a way to save him. While they had been documenting his condition each time and reporting to the authorities, they also realized that Tiger could not be reclaimed in the required timeframe because the person responsible for him was incarcerated. They took this opportunity to connect with Love-A-Bull, and the rest is history!
This boy was transported to his adoring foster family that taught him about love and security and helped him to become healthy. He then met his forever dad who loved his calm, gentle demeanor. Tiger now enjoys daily walks around the neighborhood, the most beautiful, shiny coat a dog could imagine and a quiet, easy life that every dog deserves to know.
King’s rescue story
We were thrilled, as we are any time a dog is rescued and finds their forever family, but because this is rescue, our work is never done. A couple of months after Tiger learned the meaning of family, we heard from our friends at the rural shelter again. They had just seized a second dog from the same home and he was in terrible condition.
Enter King. Much like his doggie brother Tiger, this fella was grossly underweight, suffering from ear infections, two abscesses and worst of all, was recovering from a fight. The rescue was going to court in a few days with the immediate goal of gaining custody of King and the long-term goal of ensuring this family could not legally be in possession of dogs ever again. They knew that the commitment of a responsible rescue would help in their case to be granted custody.
We agreed to be that rescue, and when the day came, the court awarded the shelter full custody of King, and he was quickly transported to our team. The shelter is still fighting to ensure that no other dog has to face the life that King and Tiger had to face with this family.
King was fortunate to be placed with the same family that fostered Tiger. Everyone immediately fell in love with his loving, goofy personality and love of soft beds and snuggles. Still, King struggled with his confidence and ability to fully trust those charged with loving and protecting him. His foster family worked to prove to him that he was safe through lots of structure (essential for dogs in need of a confidence boost!), leadership and love. Through this, King was able to find his perfect family and has been thriving in knowing what it means to be safe. His forever dad continues to set boundaries that lets King know that he has his back. But it’s not all business — King gets all of the love and affection he could ever ask for!
We are so happy that these two boys were given a second chance at life — this is ultimately why we do what we do. But as much joy as this win brings us, we can’t ignore the fact that for every King and Tiger out there that we have saved, there have been countless pleas for dogs that we could not save.
So, what can be done?
As stated before, rescues have no legal authority in matters of abuse. We have the unfortunate position of hearing a lot of sad stories without the ability to resolve them. Rescue does not actually begin with us — it begins with you, the good samaritans that cannot turn a blind eye to abuse.
But how do you actually make an impact?
Evaluate the situation
Make sure you are watching out for your own safety and only do what you are able to from a safe position.
When you see something that looks like neglect or abuse, talk to your neighbor first. There are a lot of ideas about the right way to treat a dog and sometimes a person just needs education and support. Start with an offer of that.
When that is not enough, document what you are seeing and report to the authorities. They are the ones that can make something happen when a dog is not receiving the care they require.
- Follow up.
- Follow up again.
- Follow up again, until there is a clear resolution.
In addition to reporting when you do see something, be sure to support more protective laws for animals, advocate for the safety of all dogs, and support those that provide the care for the dogs that are rescued (e.g., your local shelters and rescues).
Support can be through donations, sharing posts on social media, suggesting your favorite rescues when someone is looking to add a dog to their family or volunteering your time — email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to Love-A-Bull through volunteerism.
It takes a village to rescue a dog, and when we do, their lives are changed forever.