Staff and volunteers of the Elmbrook Humane Society will be blogging about what's going on at the society, as well as other observations about life in Wisconsin.
The mission of the Elmbrook Humane Society is to promote the human-animal bond through adoption and education, to provide shelter to homeless animals, and to prevent animal cruelty and neglect. EBHS services the city of Brookfield, the villages of Butler, Chenequa, Elm Grove and Nashotah, and the towns of Brookfield and Delafield. EBHS shelters unwanted pets and strays, and rescues injured domestic animals and wildlife, provides resources for individuals with companion animals and provides Humane Education to schools and civic groups.
Visit our web site at www.EBHS.org.
I am very sorry for not posting to this blog for a long time. We had a large event to put on late last month, and things have been increasingly busy as the number of surrenders to the shelter has increased, the number of incoming cats and kittens has skyrocketed, and the adoption rate has slowed a bit. We have a massive amount of animals here. Our staff is working like crazy, our volunteers have been here non-stop making sure the animals are being exercised and socialized, and there is no end in sight.
Lots of other things have happened, some good, some not so good, but that is always how it is when you work in animal welfare. Lots of people want to work in our industry. There are so many people starting up their own animal rescue organizations. They have great intentions, big hearts, and unfortunately are not always successful. I want to talk about a recent experience we had in order to hopefully educate others and prevent this from happening again.
We had a program (which ended because of this situation) called RAIN – Rehoming Animals In Need. This was a service for individuals who did not want to bring their animal into the shelter that allowed them to post their companion on our website in order to help find them a new home. It was seldom used, mostly it was used by rescue groups and friends of the shelter, but this incident involved a private person.
This couple decided they wanted to help animals. Not sure of how to start, they looked on the internet and stumbled upon one of several sites that advertise animals “in danger”, animals that were going to be put down tomorrow if someone did not pull them into a rescue or adopt them. They saw a dog that was supposed to be a Mastiff/Dane mix, felt compassion for it, and drove to Ohio to adopt the dog, and then brought it here to Wisconsin to adopt out to someone else. They filled out our paperwork and posted the dog on our website, and ultimately adopted her out. End of story? Hardly.
The person who adopted this dog after three weeks decided it was too big, and wanted to return the animal. He called this couple, who were now fostering a mom and puppies for a large rescue group, and they told him that they could not take the dog back. Since the adopter saw the dog on our website, he decided we should take the dog. I pulled the paperwork and saw that this dog was brought into the state from Ohio, and I got really angry. I was upset that this “rescue” was not going to be responsible for an animal that they adopted out by taking it back – which EVERY legitimate rescue will do. I was upset that they had the adopter contact the shelter, instead of calling me directly. I was upset that this animal was now going to take up a space in my shelter and might cause an animal from Wisconsin to die because I had no room to take it in.
I called this rescuer and confronted him concerning his irresponsibility, telling him that it is unfair to rescue a dog and then dump it on a shelter, that I am not to be used as a customer service department for his rescue, and pointing out that he is bringing in an animal from hundreds of miles away when thousands of ADOPTABLE animals in Wisconsin are euthanized every year.
Of course, we took the dog in. She will be adopted out once there is room to move her up to the adoption floor. The rescuer came in later in the day to meet with me to apologize and ask how he could make things right. I took the opportunity to read him a portion of an email that I had just received minutes earlier from a friend at a local animal control facility:
“We are FULL, FULL, FULL right now...13 pit bulls came in on Saturday night from a drug bust, last week we had a cat house with 40+ cats, five dogs and four birds, and last night we had 13 exotics and 2 pit bulls come in from one location. Plus we have all these safekeep cases of people in hospitals, house fires, etc. Today we were forced to euthanize a bunch of animals just to make room...”
This is right here in Wisconsin. There are dogs in danger right in our own backyard – adoptable dogs, and cats, that need help. Yet so many people feel that because they are seeing a website with photos of animals in “high kill” facilities that they have to rescue those animals, completely overlooking what is going on right here. I guarantee that there are people in those states that are just like them that will rescue the ones they can. We need people in Wisconsin to focus on animals in our own state. Why are we trying to clean up Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky when animals HERE are dying? Think globally, act locally, right?
Another thing that bothers me is that there are some all-breed rescues that will only pull purebreds, toy mixes, especially the small, white and fluffy kind, or puppies from other states. I have perfectly wonderful adult animals here that will not get a second look because adopters can rescue a puppy shipped up from Tennessee instead. I realize that many people want a puppy, but there is a saying that some groups are “Finding dogs for homes, instead of finding homes for dogs”. Animal welfare is not supposed to be about supply and demand. I know of two rescue groups right off the top of my head that have over 50 dogs each – more dogs than I have in my own shelter! Most of these dogs are from out of state, most are puppies or desirable purebreds or mixes, and why, when we already have the same problems, and the same animals, in the more rural shelters north and west of this area.
Shelters down south are often paid a “pull fee” to fully vet these puppies and dogs, who are then adopted out for two and three times the price to people up here. I am sure we could make the same arrangements here in our state with rural shelters. I get calls frequently from shelters down south trying to make a deal with us to essentially buy these animals from them. It sounds too much like being a pet store for us to do anything like that.
I urge all kind-hearted animal lovers to get into animal rescue – but not by starting a brand new rescue, or doing freelance rescuing. Find an established group and go and help them. There are MANY to choose from. We all need volunteers, foster homes, financial support, and even a shoulder to cry on. Once you have walked in our shoes, you will see it is not as easy as you think to be in this business. We are trying our best to save them all, and with your help we just might.