Snoopy Joins PBRSD

How difficult can it be to rescue a single dog?  We get asked this all the time by well-intentioned folks who are advocating for a specific dog in the shelter.

We will use Snoopy, a frail 12 year old who we’ve fallen in love with in the local shelter, as an example.  We first heard about Snoopy through an email sent to our Intake Director (Kim) from our contacts at the shelter last Saturday.  The email included a photo and his medical information.  He had been surrendered by his homeless human father and was not faring well at the shelter. Poor Snoopy had medical concerns that the shelter could not address in that setting.  They asked us to make a decision by Tuesday.

Kim receives 3-6 requests a day from local shelters.  She reads through all the ones that are sent and often has to let the shelters know that we do not have the resources to take certain dogs.  She receives a report every week from the Foster Director (Ann) that showcases what foster homes are open and the types of dogs that they can house in those homes. She weighs each shelter request against the homes currently available. It’s also important to know if there are several open homes for a type of dog, just in case the first home doesn’t work out.  Even though boarding is always an option, it isn’t an option for a dog fresh out of the shelter (they need to have been out at least 2 weeks) and it is not ideal for any dog that we’re pulling from the shelter because dogs don’t know the difference between the shelter and boarding and are often overly stressed about being placed back into a confined area.

While Snoopy’s profile didn’t exactly fit any of the profiles of open foster homes, there is a very human component of receiving all these photos and write ups every day and Kim’s heart melted.  She determined that Snoopy seemed like he could be a fit for our sanctuary program.   Sanctuary is a limited program where we take in a senior or medically compromised dog that we are fairly certain won’t be adopted from our rescue.  We pay for their care and medical needs for as long as they are treatable and a foster parent agrees to commit to care for them for the rest of their lives.  Currently we have one dog in our sanctuary program. She was also, however, very aware that no one had specifically stated that they were open for this intensive of a foster commitment.

The first step in determining if we could take him, however, was to get an evaluation done.  Our Intake team is made up of a number of folks who follow a specific protocol to test a dog in the shelter to determine if he/she is a dog that will fit into available foster homes, will get along with men, women, large dogs, small dogs, maybe cats.  If they are a dog that resource guards people, food, or toys.  If they are a dog that will require large amounts of exercise, training or medical care.  Our Intake Team are all volunteers who work full-time jobs in addition to the time that they gift to Pit Bull Rescue San Diego.  Our organization requires that two or three evaluators meet every dog.  The reason for this is that dogs will react differently to different people and what one person might see, another might not.  Multiple evaluators help keep the final evaluation more objective.  We also require that the evaluators take photos and/or video, which can’t happen if there is only one person.  The challenge with this rule is that schedules are difficult to match up in order to get two to three people to the shelter during shelter hours.  The only time our three evaluators were able to coordinate to make it in there was Monday.  Thankfully, even though our shelter is closed on Sunday and Monday, they were able to accommodate our schedule.  We have a wonderful relationship with our local shelters and, if they can, they will bend over backwards to help a dog get out of the shelter and into our care.

Our evaluation team (Zaira, Alexis and Izzy) spent a good amount of time with Snoopy.  Snoopy had certainly seen some of the hard times that lead to his dad’s homelessness, and they were evident in his ever careful movements.  He had to be coaxed from the relative comfort of his shelter bed and blankets.  An obvious shelter favorite, his bed had a couple extra of the fluffiest of cushions.  Arthritis wracked his poor bones and he moved slowly and deliberately across the cement floor.  He was oh so thin.  With multiple broken teeth, even watered down canned food seemed painful to eat, so he had simply stopped eating.  His ribs poked through his thin skin in disarray as his body contorted to fend off the aches.  However, his cloudy eyes eagerly sought out affection and he was only too happy to plant his boney butt on the nearest soft lap. He leaned back into the evaluator and closed his eyes.  They tested him with a pushy smaller dog, who he ignored.  They touched him all over his body, which he tolerated.  They gave and took treats away from him.  They hugged him and cuddled him and gauged his interest in receiving love from humans.  They spoke to him in both English and Spanish.  He seemed to react more favorably to the male evaluator who spoke to him in Spanish.  After the evaluation, they submitted photos and a written report via email to the full evaluation team.  All members of the team are invited to review the evaluation notes and photos and point out anything that isn’t accounted for in the report or to ask questions.  (Thank you to professional photographer, Alexis Kubista – ADK Photography for the wonderful shelter shots we got of our boy)  Because of the short time we had to relay a decision to the shelter, the intake team was given only that evening to give input.  It was determined that he seemed like a good candidate for our rescue.

Kim then emailed our contact at the shelter to ask if we could have more time to find a foster parent for Snoopy.  While reluctant, because of his declining health, PBRSD was given an extra couple of days.  We immediately posted a plea for a sanctuary foster on Facebook.  A sanctuary foster parent is a special sort of person – one that realizes that they may need to love this dog for whatever time they have left and then to help us make the hard decisions when it is time for that dog to cross over the rainbow bridge.  However, this special person, in return, will know that they were the one person who could keep June 12, 2012 from being that rainbow bridge day for Snoopy.  They are the one special person who will have shown him comfort and love and care and dignity in his final days, whether they be weeks, months, or years.  Thankfully, by Wednesday we had not one, but two potential foster parents step up.

Kim contacted Ann to have her notify the associated Foster Coordinator (Kristine) that there would be a new dog moved into her foster region.  The potential foster parent (Hillary) was contacted to determine both her schedule for the week (when she could take Snoopy) and what supplies she might need.  Some foster parents already have crates, beds, blankets, food, bowls, collars, leashes, toys, treats, harnesses, towels… and most do not.

Kim additionally contacted our Medical Director (Shannon) that Snoopy would need immediate intervention.  Due to multiple broken teeth, emaciation and potentially other senior dog ailments, combined with the severe depression of being left in this cold, noisy place without his human, Snoopy was not eating or drinking.  The shelter vets were very concerned that he would contract worse issues or even die from malnutrition before we could get him out.

The Supplies Manager (Katrina) was contacted to pull the necessary items.  Here is where logistics become complex.  The shelter is in Mission Valley, the vet is near Mira Mesa, the supply storage is in Sorrento Mesa and the foster parent lives and works downtown.  Wednesday night about 10, emails went out to select volunteers asking for the myriad of pick up and drop off

Follow the bouncing ball.  This was the Thursday process to get Snoopy:

  • Katrina picked up the supplies in Sorrento Mesa and dropped them off at Ann’s home in Mira Mesa.
  • At the same time, a transport volunteer (Kristine) picked up Snoopy and all his paperwork from the shelter
  • Kristine then drove Snoopy directly to the veterinary hospital in Mira Mesa where they met Kim for Snoopy’s appointment.  Snoopy was poked and prodded, blood and other samples taken, and teeth checked.  He was declared an old dog and we were told that the results of the blood tests would be relayed to Shannon when they were back in.
  • After the appointment, Snoopy was taken to the Ann’s home where he patiently waited in a crate for the second transport person (Ryan) to arrive.
  • Ryan picked up Snoopy and all his supplies and drove him from Mira Mesa to Downtown San Diego to his new foster (Hillary) office.  She is a vet with VCA so Snoopy will be able to be crated at the office while she is at work.
  • They unloaded the supplies from Ryan’s to Hillary’s car and then brought Snoopy in to the office where he was greeted lovingly by a number of vets and vet techs who had eagerly been awaiting his arrival.
  • He was given water and some treats and put in a crate to relax for a bit.  All this moving around was quite a lot for frail old Snoopy and he napped almost immediately.
  • Once he awoke, a vet tech helped Snoopy’s new foster mom introduce him to her own dog (Wallace) to make sure that the fit was right for their home.
  • Once they determined that they seemed to get along, Snoopy headed home, just a few miles away, with them.
  • Once at his new home, he also met the resident cats.  His tail wagged feebly and he almost smiled.  Yes, our Snoopy was home, warm, comfortable and knew it.

And that, my friends, is how a single dog moves from shelter to rescue.  Thank you to EVERYONE who helped accomplish this for Snoopy.

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Posted on June 18, 2012, in Foster Care, Medical, Pit Bull. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You people are absolutely the best! Lots of people talk the talk, but you guys walk the walk!

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