How Do You Put a Price on Life?
In light of a recent article published by the Washington Post many rescue organizations that buy dogs at dog auctions are facing backlash from the public. Let's address a few things.
Please don't judge. If you have not been there, witnessed the sights, the smells and the sounds for yourself, please do not judge anyone who has been. Those rescuers who can walk into a situation, knowing they cannot possibly save them all, knowing that when they leave there, there will also be dogs leaving the same as them, but most of those dogs will never see the light of day again. And they can't do a damn thing about it but save as many as possible within a short time, with the limited funds that they broke their backs to raise, the limited space they have back home and the limited resources. Those rescuers are heroes. They wear invisible capes daily. From sun up to sun down, daily they do nothing but work hard for the dogs. It's all for the dogs. You as onlookers, supporters, and the public cannot possibly imagine, because it is still hard for me to imagine after each time being there, three hundred dogs stacked on top of each other in small wire cages, in a small metal building, cowering in the corners because a bunch of strange people are wondering around them, looking them up and down, talking about how well they will produce and how much money they can make off of them. You know who you should be judging? The people that are walking around only looking at those living, breathing souls as a way to make money. The people that will pay much more than any rescue would just to be able to win the highest bid on that dog, load them (and likely many others) up in rusty old wire cages and throw them into the back of a truck, van or in a cattle trailer to take them back to their place and sentence them to a life behind bars. Their only crime for a sentence of life behind bars? Being born and the ability to reproduce.
Some people do not agree with rescues going to auction and purchasing dogs because it puts money into the hand of the breeders. My outlook on this is simple. The dogs are there, the breeders are there and the rescues are there. Those dogs will be sold that day and money will be put into the hands of the breeders, whether that money is coming from another breeder or a rescue organization. But there are two different outcomes for the dogs. If they are purchased by a breeder, those dogs will be sentenced to a life behind bars, receiving little to no veterinary care, being used only to reproduce until their bodies give out and they face a slow and painful death, alone in a cold, rusty wire cage. If they dog is purchased by a rescue organization that dog will finally be in loving hands. They will be going to a home, with warm bedding, good food, their medical needs taken care of and eventually find a forever home where they will spend the remainder of their life as a pet. The same money. Two different outcomes. If you were that dog, which would you rather happen to you?
For rescue organizations like ours, going to an auction is nothing but work. First, we start off by trying to raise as many funds as possible to get as many dogs as possible and provide for them when we arrive home. With limited space and limited resources when we bring them back, we then get to work lining up as many fosters as possible for the dogs we will bring home. Once back home, after spending twelve plus hours on the road, we go through intake, clean them up, get them to the vet and into foster homes. Its an exhausting process. The work doesn't stop there though. Once they are in foster homes and vetted, then the rehabilitation process starts. Our fosters work hard to show our dogs what love is, to feel comfortable around humans, work with them on housetraining and manners and prepare them for their forever homes. We plan and attend adoption events with the dogs, tell their stories and wait until the right family comes along for them.
Let me tell you of those dogs' stories that we are talking about. Ranger. Ranger, Ranger, Ranger. Where do we start? Let's start at the beginning. Fast forward to the auction starting. We are sitting up in our usual corner with a good view of the place. The bleachers are already uncomfortable to sit on by the time things get going. First up are the Cocker Spaniels, all too high for us to bid. Then the Basset Hound, another no. Next up are the Beagles. We always have such a hard time with the Beagles. Who doesn't love a Beagle? And try looking into those gentle and sweet, loving eyes and try not to cry for them. There were only five Beagles on that auction and Ranger was the last one standing. There was no one bidding on him. Little did he know, as he looked out into the crowd, scared and wondering what would happen next, that there were two girls sitting up in the corner that wouldn't let him go to an unknown fate. With a shaking hand, I raised our number up just as they were picking him up to take him back. What would have happened if we didn't raise our number at the last minute and they would have taken him back? We don't know, but certainly do not want to find out. #10 was now 'SOLD' to bidder number 101 for $25. A measly $25 was all it took to SAVE Ranger's life.
When we got back from the auction to where we were staying, we unloaded and set up pens for everyone to run around. We were trying to come up with a name and I said 'Ranger, like Ranger Rick!'. What a perfect name for a Beagle. Ranger was given his name, a bath and then his very first collar (that wasn't a chain). When he was outside, on the grass for the first time, he was so scared all he could do was stand there and shake with drool hanging from his mouth. Little did he know what a great life would be ahead.
When I look back at the photos from that trip, looking at Ranger's face makes me tear up. I remember those days like it was yesterday and to see that face and to know how lucky he was that day makes me so happy, but I cannot help but think of the others that left the auction that day that will never know love.
After eight months of freedom, Ranger's foster mom adopted him and his new name is Buddy.