As you likely know by now, on Saturday, September 20th we took in a male Shih-Tzu that was found abandoned in a zipped comforter bag along with a bag of food and a blanket in a breezeway. Both the Reading Eagle and WFMZ came to do a story on the pup, who I am lucky enough to be fostering, and so our little man got a lot of attention. Here’s a snapshot of the comments written on social media in response to his story:
When I was interviewed by reporter Ryan Hughes at WFMZ, he mentioned that this situation was sad. Indeed, but my response was different than you might expect. I told him that what made me really sad is that whoever did this, didn’t realize there was another option, and that makes me feel like I’ve failed. I eat, breathe, and sleep marketing. I talk about the ARL to anyone who will listen. I make every effort to educate people about our services and to explain why spaying and neutering is so important. I am a constant voice for our foster program. I spend my days creating Facebook posts, blog posts, podcasts and collateral pieces with the sole intention of educating Berks County about the ARL’s services. So why, WHY, didn’t his owner know that there was a better way?
The way I see it is that whoever this “beast” is cared enough about their dog to send him off with his favorite blanky and a bag of food. They left him in an area where he was sure to be seen and rescued. Maybe they were embarrassed that his flea infestation was so bad. Maybe they didn’t have enough money to take him to the vet. Maybe they were ashamed that his coat was so matted. Maybe they did know that they could surrender their dog at the ARL, but maybe they thought we would judge them for their neglect. Maybe they didn’t even know they could surrender their little guy to a place where he would get the care and the love he needed. Maybe if they did know, they would’ve done it sooner – before he nearly died of anemia.
Am I an eternal optimist? Am I tragically blind when it comes to seeing the bad in people in favor of seeing the good? Am I being naïve? Maybe. Or maybe I remember a time in my early 20’s when I was a full-time student working a full time job and living on my own with my most beloved Pekingnese Missy. She was the first dog that I adopted on my own, as an adult. I had an incredibly special bond with her and she was my whole world. If you know the breed, you know that they require regular grooming….a financial aspect that I didn’t consider when I adopted her. A commitment of time that I didn’t have considering everything else going on in my life. But I loved her, and I thought that would be enough. It didn’t take long for her coat to become matted and for me to be ashamed when friends or family would see her and think that I wasn’t caring for her. I was embarrassed to take her out for walks for fear of people judging me. But, I finally had enough sense to bury my pride and ask my mom for help. She took my sweet Missy to the groomer and she came back a different dog. From that point on, I made sure that the money and time needed to keep her comfortable were a priority for me…as they should’ve been from the beginning. Does this neglect make me an irresponsible owner? Am I a monster for letting my dog become matted and uncomfortable? Should my dog have been taken away from me? Should I never have been allowed to adopt two more dogs and to foster countless others? Or is it possible that sometimes, good people make bad decisions?
Here’s what I do know for sure…Breezy (since renamed “Zipper”) is a really cool dog. He is housetrained. He LOVES other dogs. He is super smart. He is obedient. He likes kids. What do all of those things tell me? That he was loved. Someone loved this dog enough to housetrain him. Someone loved this dog enough that he knows people are good and give the best belly rubs. Someone loved him enough to socialize him with other dogs. Sometimes though, love just isn’t enough.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that there are truly cruel people out there. They are the ones that train their dogs to fight, that allow their dogs to be bait, that physically torture their animal for entertainment, that tie an unwanted pet in an abandoned home where it will starve to death before ever being found. Was Breezy’s owner cruel? No, I don’t think so. Somewhere, in that person’s mind, doing what they did was the right thing to do. I know it wasn’t and you know it wasn’t, and we all wonder WHY it happened this way, but I also know that I’ve made bad decisions before, and probably will again. And when I do, I hope there is someone there to help me find the right way.
Let the anger that you might’ve felt when you read his story fuel you. Take that anger and turn it into something positive. Use it to educate anyone and everyone that will listen about the services available in Berks County for pet owners in need. Come pick up a handful of our brochures and give them to your neighbors. Share our Facebook statuses. Share this blog post. Be a voice for those that can’t speak.
Resources for Berks County Pet Owners in Need