April the 10th of last year, two frightened dogs were brought to the Douglas county animal shelter by their owner and surrendered. The man in his sixties, was losing his home to foreclosure and he was unable to care for his beloved dogs any longer. I was not present the day he arrived and no one knew the circumstances at the time they arrived. Since the shelter had an open admissions policy on owner surrenders and no one offered any alternatives or potential support structure existed at the time, the two dogs were accepted with little notice as to the circumstances that had resulted in their surrender. The two dogs were taken in by DCAC staff and placed in a kennel to await their fate as all dogs were dealt with at the time.The open admission policy changed after Lifeline became involved in examining, assessing and structuring operations at the Douglas county shelter later that summer.
As days passed, shelter staff began to notice that the man returned daily to visit with the two dogs and to spend time with them and bring them treats. The shelter supervisor remarked that in almost twenty years of animal control experience, she had never seen that level of dedication by a pet owner. On more than one occasion, I saw the gentleman who surrendered the dogs talking with shelter visitors about his dogs and encouraging them to have a look at his two dogs for adoption. As a result of those observations, I approached the gentleman and inquired about the dogs and why they were surrendered and I talked with him at length about his circumstances and the two dogs he obviously loved.
I quickly learned that this man in his mid sixties truly loved these two dogs and was only concerned that they each find a loving home. It was his sincere hope that by taking with potential adopters, that maybe they could be kept together and not separated. The man had owned and raised them since they were pups and it was very hard for him to give them up and have to worry about their fate and their future.
The two were a bonded pair and as the gentleman and I would stand and talk beside their kennel, they would each stare out with pleading eyes and curiosity as if to ask why they could no longer leave and go home with their Dad. I soon learned that the gentleman was a Vietnam veteran, he was also a widower and combined with those facts of life, I also noted that he has his own medical concerns that also require his attention and expense. The end result being that he was losing his home and he could no longer afford to take care of the two dogs that he loved.
The gentleman who I came to know as Steve, told me that he truly loved the dogs and that he hated to give them up, but he didn't have any other alternatives. He was alone and his home was being foreclosed on and he had to be out by the end of the month. He had found suitable housing for himself, but he was not able to keep his beloved Rebel & Blaze with him. So he had surrendered them to the shelter and now he was coming to the shelter everyday to visit the two dogs that he loved. Hopefully his efforts would encourage someone to adopt Rebel & Blaze together so that they could stay together in one home.
I asked Steve if it would be alright with him if we began networking the dogs to hopefully find them a foster while he got on his feet, or in the event that was not possible, to hopefully find them a new home where they could stay together. Steve readily agreed and so Rebel & Blaze's journey of the next several months began. I spoke with the shelter supervisor who had been made aware of the circumstances and she agreed to work with us toward finding them a foster home.
It took almost a month before a concerned reader of our pages came forward and offered to get Rebel & Blaze out of the shelter and take them and foster them while we searched for a new home. By May of last year, Donna (a local veterinary employee) had appeared and offered to be the saving angel that had been prayed for. Rebel and Blaze each needed Donna and the help of others if they were to find new homes.
After making contact with us, Donna came early one Saturday morning to adopt Rebel & Blaze from the shelter and to take them back to the veterinary office where she works in Cobb county to be boarded. The original plan was for the two to be boarded there while we waited to see if Steve was going to be able to get on his feet financially and be able to provide another home for them. When it became apparent that Steve was not going to be able to support the dogs any further, we all began working to network Rebel & Blaze to hopefully find them a new permanent home.
Donna and others went to work on the internet and on social media sites marketing the two dogs and Steve's circumstances immediately and after several weeks, a couple saw their story and their plight on a military families share site on the internet. As it turned out, the family lived right here in Douglas county and a meeting was arranged for the following weekend for the couple to meet Rebel & Blaze and see if the two would be a good match with their family.
I went along with Donna that day and we brought the two dogs to meet their potentially new family at their home. In less than an hour of watching the two dogs romping around the property with their other family dog, it became apparent that Rebel and Blaze would be staying at their newly found home. The woman and her husband fell in love with the pair, as had their sheltie mix who is also a Douglas county shelter rescue dog. This loving couple and their dogs live on a large property with access to a lake and a large fenced in backyard for the dogs to romp and play in.
The older gentleman Steve came by to visit with the dogs not long after they were adopted by this couple. He was satisfied that they are now happy and well taken care of in their new home. None the less, Rebel & Blaze remembered their former Dad and immediately showed him the affection that they all were accustomed to. Their new family told Steve that he remains welcome to visit with Rebel & Blaze anytime and he is now content that these two dogs that he loves so much, are in fact in good hands and receiving the levels of love and care that he can no longer provide.
This story of success is but another example of what can be done to address the needs of our community when those who are aware and involved pull together toward a common goal. The goals are simple really. Work together to help give lost abandoned and abused animals the opportunity to find new homes.
Especially those animals who's owners have fallen on bad financial times. I believe that we can accomplish these things as a community in conjunction with dedicated shelter staff and the help of a network of volunteers working toward a common effort. Concerned citizens and animal advocates working together can see to it that no animal is ever allowed to die for want of care, concern, love or the time and ability to find a new home. We as a community have proven that reality over the last year.
Please support our animal shelter and those who have worked so diligently to help save lives there over the past year and beyond. Progressively addressing the problems of pet over population and irresponsible pet owners with solution based alternatives is a proven means to address our needs in Douglas county. Please consider lending your support to those efforts and please help us to help every animal who needs someone to speak up for them in Douglas county.