The Truth About Rescuing Dogs Pandemic Love-A-Bull

The Truth About Rescuing Dogs

When I decided to volunteer with dogs many years ago, I imagined wagging tails, dog kisses, and pleasant strolls in the grass. There’d be adorable fat puppies finding their forever homes and happy families finally giving that older dog a chance. Sure, I knew there would be work, but more so there would be rewards. How hard could it be?

What I found was very different than what I’d imagined. Yes, there were loads of adorable dogs, but they often jumped on me, scratched me up, and barked until my eardrums rattled. Sometimes, they even wanted to bite me. Sometimes, they succeeded. 

The dogs at the shelter were stressed, often vomiting and struggling with bouts of terrible diarrhea. Often they’d come in sick and mangy, barely a hair on them, emaciated and smelling like motor oil and neglect. I worried about the healthy ones, too. How long before they caught something? How long before the stress would make their bowels riot? How long before they’d start spinning in their kennels, crazed from being pent up for so long? 

How long before we get them all the hell out of there?

Helping dogs during a disaster

Natural disasters bring on a whole new level of intensity in animal rescue. With LOVE-A-BULL I’ve weathered many disasters, but none like this pandemic. This is new.

Up until the pandemic, LOVE-A-BULL ran a myriad of programs including rescue, events, training, therapy dogs, and fundraisers. When COVID-19 hit, it all came to a screeching halt. Suddenly, it wasn’t safe for volunteers to gather. Shelters were closed, refusing owner-surrenders and strays, laying off much of their staff. LOVE-A-BULL was over-run with requests for help while our fundraising events were canceled. Like many organizations, we were left wondering not only how we’d continue to help, but how we’d survive.

We couldn’t answer all these questions at first, and we’re still working on it, to be honest. What we did know was that a foster boom was coming. More people would be at home and they’d use this time to acclimate new dogs to their families. Maybe we couldn’t run our other programs as well, but we could still rescue dogs.

We switched our focus almost entirely to rescue, funneling resources that would typically go to other programs into assessing dogs, transporting, and supporting a foster network that was growing faster than we could keep up. We conducted foster assessments in masks, from a safe distance. We drove to rural areas to aid dogs in high-kill shelters that were being forgotten in all the chaos. Shelters needed support more than ever.

Over 160 dogs since the start of the pandemic

These days many of our programs remain on hiatus as we try to figure out how to function in a low contact world. Every day, we comb through the requests, choose the lucky ones for evaluation, and play matchmaker with our available foster homes. So long as people are willing to open up their homes, we can help. So far, that means over 160 dogs that would have died, now have homes.

Getting dogs out of shelters and into foster homes is just the beginning. So many questions follow. How will they do in foster care? What will they need? How much will it cost? How will we raise the money? And how will we introduce dogs to people while public gatherings are prohibited? How many meet and greets can we do in a week before we all go insane? 

So far, about 98% of our pandemic rescues have needed spay or neuter surgery and full vet workups. At least thirteen of them have been heartworm positive and needed expensive treatments and months of rehabilitative care. Five of the dogs have needed intensive behavioral counseling.

Then there are the really hard cases. Recently, we rescued a mama who had her babies the day we brought her into the program. We all breathed a sigh of relief for her, knowing we gave her the opportunity to have her pups in a quiet, safe place. But the risks of disease are inescapable. We were able to save her and her pups, but another litter we tried to save ended up being born with distemper. After extensive medical treatments, only one pup and the mother survived. 

It’s easy to feel like it’s all for naught when we lose them, but these are the risks we take. At the very least, we give them a respectful and dignified exit from this world, knowing what it was like to be loved, even if it is just a short time. At the very most, we get a video of them running through fields of flowers ten years later, enjoying an adventure with their loved ones. These are the moments we work for.

Rescue is a team effort

Every dog we rescue requires a team of people, from the fosters who weather long nights while acclimating a dog; to the trainers that devote their time to helping them work through the kinks; to the transporters who deliver supplies, take the dog to the vet, and get them to the meet and greet. 

There are also adoption and fundraising events to coordinate. Then there’s the admin stuff like keeping up a website, getting good photos of dogs, posting them, tracking who’s adopted and who needs what. Social media, email, and paying the bills is all part of running a rescue. And there’s no finish, no pay, no raises for good performance or accolades from an appreciative boss. Just more dogs, meetings, and the friendships that bond us in a mutual cause. 

Often, our meetings at LOVE-A-BULL start with cheers and a mental health check. Then we go through our agenda, our list of dogs in foster, dogs being adopted, and those waiting at the shelter. We deliberate how to do this safely as COVID-19 rates rise. How can we work with shelters that have all but locked their doors?

Compassion fatigue

Perhaps the biggest challenge we encounter in rescue isn’t so much with the four-legged animals as it is with the two-legged ones. Humans can be the cruelest of creatures, and when you rescue animals you’re often subjected to the most disturbing among us and their aftermath. The neglect and abuse that we encounter can be enough to make us question whether or not people deserve dogs at all. Some do not.

It’s depressing, and it’s probably the number one thing that scares people away from offering help. “I don’t want to be sad,” they say. “I can’t handle it.” 

True, the plight of homeless animals is sad, but it’s impossible to ignore. Gone are the days when switching the channel during sad commercials was an option. The homeless animal problem is on your phone, your computer, your TV, and sometimes right outside your door. It can make you feel hopeless, I know. I’m here to tell you though– there is no better cure for hopelessness than action.

The truth is, one person can easily go mad trying to rescue dogs. With a team, however, we can support each other, pick up the slack when others fall down. Grow that team big enough and you have an army. Suddenly, you’re part of something making a much bigger difference. You have momentum, victories that you share with others. You may never finish, but you will save lives and you will know progress.

Fred Rogers said, “look for the helpers.” In rescue, you are surrounded by helpers. These are passionate people who risk blood, sweat, and tears to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. In a time when people are struggling and divided, despite all its challenges, this work brings us together with purpose. It reminds us that life is important and we hold the power to improve it — for animals and people. Maybe you’ve felt hopeless, but you are never helpless. And no one is better at reminding you of that than a grateful dog.

What you can do

Spay and neuter your pets. All of them. No exceptions or excuses. If it’s not in the budget, ask for assistance. There are resources out there. If you look you will find them.

Adopt instead of buying pets. Yes, all pets. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and so on. There are at least seven homeless animals for every person in the United States. You can find the pet you’re looking for without funding a puppy mill or a breeder who chooses to ignore the very real problem of animal overpopulation.

Volunteer in any capacity. Humans are the number one most valuable resource in the rescue world. As I mentioned before, there are lots of roles to fill. We need marketers, artists, social media gurus, event planners, grant writers, computer experts, trainers, transporters, and more. If you have some time to give, chances are good that the rescue world could use your help. You may not even need to leave your home to do it.

Foster. The most selfless and helpful thing a volunteer can do is give a homeless dog a temporary place to live. It is not always an easy job, but very few things in this world will make you feel better than watching a dog that would have died, go to a loving home instead.

Donate if you can. There’s a lot more to caring for dogs than food and water. We need equipment, vet care, and to cover operating expenses. Money is necessary, even for an organization that is entirely volunteer-run.

Be a voice for those who can’t speak. Aim to educate instead of judging, explain instead of arguing. Elect leaders who see animal rights as a priority. 

Where we’re headed

It’s been many years since I started working in rescue, and millions of dogs are still homeless. But we have made progress.

The homeless numbers are dropping, and spaying and neutering are on the rise. Adopting dogs is no longer as stigmatized as it once was, and pit bull-type dogs are one of the most common pet dogs in households across the nation. 

My point is, it’s working. These problems are solvable if we all do our part to build the army required to save them all. Someday, there can be an end to all this suffering. It is not just a dream if it’s within our control to make it a reality. It’s a goal. 

At LOVE-A-BULL, I found like-minded people propelled by this optimism. We’ve tackled the problem from every angle we could think of, including education, outreach, rescue, and aid. The changes that we’ve made are palpable, not just within the city of Austin, but nationwide. Believe me when I say…

We are not helpless.

Join us and let’s see how fast can we get them the hell out of there.

 

 
Crystal Dunn is a writer, behavior consultant, and trainer living in Austin, TX.
She serves on the advisory board for LOVE-A-BULL and hosts the Far Fetched
dog myths podcast. www.farfetchedpodcast.com
farfetchedpod@gmail.com

 

Subscribe to the LOVE-A-BULL newsletter

Love-A-Bull’s 12th Anniversary — a Record-Breaking 2020!

Hi, Love-A-Bull family:

It goes without saying that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years our generation has ever seen. Job cuts, the fear of losing family and friends to a global pandemic, of not being able to afford basic veterinary care or even dog food for furry loved ones. But with this year’s heartache has come some good.

At Love-A-Bull, we found ourselves — seemingly overnight — with a few new volunteer members of our Board of Directors (plus Lindsey Ortiz, our seasoned board President at the helm) willing to step in and immediately do whatever we could to help save more pit bull-type dogs. Our mission and vision in the last 12 years since we’ve been a 501(c)3 nonprofit has not changed — but it has evolved. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that rescue never stops.

Looking back today, which happens to be our 12-year anniversary, we’ve accomplished the following in 2020:

  • Rescued and successfully adopted out more than 150 pit bull-type dogs across Central Texas and beyond, and counting (by comparison, we had about 40 adoptions in 2019!).
  • Of those dogs, about 15 have been heartworm positive, and we’ve been able to treat these worthy pups and get them into forever homes (this is a higher percentage of HW+ dogs than most shelters take in around Austin!).
  • Continued to provide assistance to the community via virtual training follow-ups, 1:1 socially distanced home visits, and chipping in on medical cases outside our program when we can.
  • Pivoted to virtual events over some of our popular fundraisers we hold each year, including hosting our first-ever online silent auction for National Pit Bull Awareness Month, which raised almost $4,000, and the special merch campaign to go with it that brought in an additional $750!
  • Made a dozen new partners in the local and nationwide business community who are passionate about advocating for and rescuing pit bull-type dogs, including those who have been featured on our Shop for a Cause web page for donating back to our lifesaving mission (thank you!).
  • Positioned ourselves for more grant assistance now and in the future, including a $20,000 COVID-19 relief grant we received earlier this year to recoup some of the $80,000+ in medical expenses for our Adopt-A-Bulls we’ve incurred due to increasing our intake over 300% in 2020.

Even though it feels difficult to celebrate anything about this year, we can’t help but take a moment to do so right now. For those of you who have been with us on this journey, THANK YOU, from the bottom of our hearts. We cannot do this without you.

We are hopeful that 2021 will be even brighter, for you and your families as well as the thousands of pit bull-type dogs that still need our help. If interested in joining us, we have ways you can assist at the bottom of this email.

Cheers to 12 years, and we can’t wait to see what lucky year number 13 has in store!

 

Sincerely,

Amber Krosel

Board Treasurer, Love-A-Bull
(and the rest of the LAB board: Lindsey, Sara, Kailyn and Roxy!)

 

TO DONATE: Venmo, PayPal or DonationPay (includes tax receipt)

TO ADOPT: View our current list of Adopt-A-Bulls

TO FOSTER: Learn more about why we need you, and apply to be a foster today!

TO VOLUNTEER: Email getinvolved@love-a-bull.org

TO JOIN OUR SHOP FOR A CAUSE PARTNERS: Email outreach@love-a-bull.org

National Pit Bull Awareness Month Love-A-Bull

October 2020 Newsletter — National Pit Bull Awareness Month!

Dear Friends –
In September, we hit another milestone – 100 dogs and puppies saved since Covid began in March! That makes 136 total lives saved as of today!! We will continue to share exciting news, needs, updates and more over our social media, but this will be the last newsletter of 2020!!

We are still in desperate need of fosters for adult dogs. Fostering not only saves lives, it will give you purpose and passion and we need you!! We provide everything you need to foster for us and you become part of the Love-A-Bull family. Will you help us? Click HERE to learn more and fill out an app.

Love-A-Bull Board of Directors,
Lindsey, Kailyn, Sara, Roxy, Amber

CHRISTMAS PHOTOS AT THE DRISKILL – ONLY 4 SPOTS LEFT!!
This year, LAB is doing a special Christmas photoshoot fundraiser … at the Driskill! Come see this beautiful, iconic space all decked out for the holidays, and get a gorgeous set of digital photos from our professional photographer to use in your holiday cards! Yes, dogs / your Adopt-A-Bulls are welcome! This indoor photoshoot, set for Monday, Nov. 30, will take place with social distancing precautions in mind. We have just a few 20-minute timeslots available at $125 per family — grab your tickets now!

When you are ready to get Christmas cards ordered or just want to get ahead of Christmas shopping with unique and customized gifts, art and stationary – Minted is giving Love-A-Bull supporters 20% off purchases and donating 15% back to us!! Use promo code FUNDRAISEBULL now through the end of the year for your discount. Keep scrolling to see more new Shop for a Cause partners!

GUESS MY BREED
We pulled Penny into our program as a single puppy all by herself and she was adopted back in August. Her DNA results are in!

40.2% American Bully
13.4% Golden Retriever
11.6% American Pit Bull Terrier
10.1% German Shepherd Dog
9.8% American Staffordshire Terrier
8.6% Miniature Schnauzer
6.3% Rottweiler

NATIONAL PIT BULL AWARENESS MONTH IS HERE!!
October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month. We are so excited to bring you a variety of activities, mostly virtual, for 2020! Below is a sneak peek!!!

Oct. 9-10: Kendra Scott Gives Back to Love-A-Bull
Between Oct. 9-10, shop at Kendra Scott at The Domain in Austin — OR online! — to help Love-A-Bull earn 20% of your purchase back toward our lifesaving mission! It’s never too early to begin holiday shopping … or just buying a special treat for yourself! More details here. You can also share our FB event with friends and family here!

Oct. 16-23: Virtual Silent Auction
We are hosting our very first virtual silent auction, all to benefit our amazing Adopt-A-Bulls! We’ll be teasing some of our 45+ items the week prior, but expect fun donated goodies from Paws on Chicon, Coach, Kendra Scott, Zucchini Kill, The Line Hotel, Dogs Around Austin photography and more! Several items are digital gifts, so our supporters from around the country are encouraged to bid! Keep an eye on our social media pages, and another special email announcing the opening of the auction soon!

Oct. 24: Strut Your Mutt Day & National Pit Bull Awareness Day
How amazing is it that this national fundraiser is taking place on National Pit Bull Awareness Day? Grab your pup and walk with us on Saturday, Oct. 24 in honor of our milestone of rescuing and adopting out more than 100 dogs this year! We’ll have special prizes offered to Strut Your Mutt team members all weekend. Join or donate to our team here.

If you have any questions about these events, please contact amber@love-a-bull.org.

ADOPTIONS
Kiara, Dexter, Goat, Poptart, Tootsie, Tony, Ranger and Malaysia.
Hera + Adonis, Rhea, Apollo, Zeus, Odysseus, Perseus, Iris, Eros, Hercules and Kronos!
Check out our Facebook Page for their adoption family photos!
Check Out Our Current Adopt-A-Bulls!
To learn more about our pups or fill out an application for adoption, click HERE.

SHOP FOR A CAUSE
We are all shopping online these days and we are lucky to have several partnerships where a portion of your purchase goes back to Love-A-Bull! Whether you’re looking for some tasty coffees to try, chocolates, vegan food, pet supplies, or more — check out our updated Shop for a Cause page here.

  • Introducing our new partner … Furr-bulous, a dog clothing and accessory boutique, is donating 30% of its sales for October back to Love-A-Bull! Furr-bulous has accessories for humans to match their doggie bffs, including face masks, headbands and scrunchies. Use the code “LoveABull” during checkout!

  • Good Girl Gidget is donating 25% of its $25+ orders from August through October 2020 back to Love-A-Bull! Based in Austin, TX, Good Girl Gidget sells tees, tanks, decals, totes and pins. All merchandise is included in the fundraiser other than Black Lives Matter merchandise.

If you or your business would like to partner with us on fundraising opportunities,
please email amber@love-a-bull.org

FOSTERS – Call to Action!! 
We are in desperate need of fosters for adult dogs!! We provide everything needed to foster and we match you with a dog, with your kids and current fur babies in mind. If you are interested in fostering, click HERE for an application. Help us save lives!!
VOLUNTEERS – 
  • Daytime Transport – We need volunteers who are available during the day, who can help us pick up dogs at shelters, transport dogs to our vet for appointments, take dogs to and from their foster’s house and meet and greets. Vehicles that can fit a crate are ideal, but not necessary.
Interested in volunteering? Click HERE or reach out to getinvolved@love-a-bull.org.
Lauren and Major

Love-A-Bull Adoption Story: Lauren and Major (fka Jim)

Lauren and Major

Major, fka Jim, is a happy pup in his forever home!

Love-A-Bull is sharing the adoption story of Lauren in Austin and her Adopt-A-Bull alumnus, Major (fka Jim). Interested in adopting from us? Check out our current list of Adopt-A-Bulls here and find out more about what we ask for in adoption applications.

In Lauren’s words, her adoption story:
“It was difficult to know where to start because I can’t say enough great things about Love-A-Bull! I was devastated after the loss of my Boxer, Samson, and was struggling to cope with daily reminders in my empty house that he was gone. I wasn’t sure if I was entirely ready for a new dog in my life, but like most people, I was finding myself with extra time and less responsibilities due to the pandemic and it seemed like the ideal time to adopt. Although I would have loved to get another goofy Boxer, I felt that since I own my home, it was better to get a Pit Bull because there are so many out there that need good homes and many places won’t allow them. I’ve always had great experiences with Pit Bulls and knew that their reputation was undeserved, as most that I’ve met have been friendly, well behaved, and just love attention.
I started looking at local shelters and was completely overwhelmed by the amount of dogs that were available! I had spent hours filtering through and compiling a list of dogs that I wanted to meet to see if I could find a good fit. The biggest obstacle was that my boyfriend has an incredibly sweet 9-year-old female Pit/Corgi mix, Brena, and it was essential that the two dogs would get along since we will be combining households soon.
About a week into my search, I was introduced to Love-A-Bull through a close friend and neighbor whose friend had just meet an adorable Pit mix that his friend was fostering. After applying to meet him, I received a phone call within a couple of hours from Love-A-Bull adoption coordinator/board member Sara, who asked me screening questions to see what characteristics I was looking for and what my lifestyle was like. Having a dog is a huge responsibility and I appreciate an organization that takes that seriously and does everything they can to make sure that their dogs are going to a good home.
The meet-and-greet with Brena and the dog I had reached out about didn’t work out (he had a little too much energy for her), but Sara and fellow Love-A-Bull board member Kailyn assured me that the perfect dog was out there. My focus was always on getting the right fit for our family, and I still can’t believe how much work they put in to make sure that I got the right dog! About a week later, they contacted me about meeting another pup they had been fostering, and they were absolutely right about the perfect pup being out there!
I can’t imagine that I could have found a better dog on my own! Major (fka Jim) has been such a wonderful addition to our household! He is amazing with other dogs, kids, people, etc. I regularly get compliments on how well he is behaved when we’re out on walks! He and Brena get along great and play all the time — she had to teach him how to play tug-o’-war, and it’s one of their favorite games now! It seemed like Major hadn’t really had any experience with toys, but now that he’s gotten the hang of them, he’s super playful but also knows when it’s time to chill out on the couch.
Lauren and Major

Brena and Major enjoying their pup playtime together!

He’s such a sweet and loving dog, I feel so grateful and lucky to have him! He’s really come out of his shell in the two months that I’ve had him and his overall confidence has improved, but his core personality of being calm, gentle, and sweet melts my heart every day.
I cannot overstate enough — working with Love-A-Bull was the easiest and least stressful way to adopt the perfect dog that I could imagine! Since they rescue dogs from shelters all over Texas that might euthanize, or underfunded shelters that aren’t able to give the best of care, I have the added bonus of feeling like I saved a life (even though they really did!).
Most simply, having Major has had a positive effect on all of us. My coworkers have commented that I’m happier, Brena is happy to have a new friend that she can play and run with, and my friend who introduced me to Love-A-Bull has a high-energy rescue, Seamus, who also looks forward to play dates with us as much as Major does!
I feel like Love-A-Bull is more of a matchmaking organization than a rescue, and they are easily the best at what they do! There are so many unknowns that you might encounter when rescuing, and Love-A-Bull minimizes a lot of those factors by pre-screening the dogs they rescue and fostering each of them before introducing them to prospective pet parents. I will absolutely use this organization in the future when I’m ready to add more members to the family, and would confidently recommend them to anyone looking for a new dog. Having Major in my life has been the best gift and makes me so thankful that I was referred to Love-A-Bull!”
Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your story. We’re so happy for you and Major!
Lauren and Major

Major relaxing in his forever home!