Working in animal rescue, you come across more than your fair share of heart-wrenching stories and animals who have survived terrible conditions and yet still want nothing more than to be loved by everyone. When Voiceless-MI pulled Turner and his partner in crime Hooch from the animal shelter, the volunteers discovered that Turner had some health concerns and had to undergo surgery. Even with all the changes, this little guy’s spirit just could not be shaken.
It turns out that Turner and Hooch were brought into the shelter because their owners had passed away. I had a hard time imagining that the extended family of Turner and Hooch’s owners could decline the sweet faces of those dogs who had just lost their owners. But sometimes people simply do not have the ability to take in two dogs unexpectedly. So, without any other plans in place they were forced to take Turner and Hooch to the local animal shelter. Turner, with his adorable “smile” and spunky attitude, then became the Fido’s Future spokes-dog–a project started as a way to educate pet owners about actions they can take to plan for their pet’s future when faced with unfortunate events like unexpected owner hospitalization or even death. Turner may have lost his family, been in a shelter and gone through surgery, but he has a second chance and he couldn’t be happier.
Shortly after we started Fido’s Future, we heard another story from a Good Samaritan about a dog found wandering alongside the road. The dog, named Willoughby, was placed in the same foster home where Turner and Hooch were living. Willoughby was dirty and his fur was matted and it was very clear that he had been wandering for quite a while on his own. Voiceless-MI took Willoughby to the veterinarian to be examined and they found that he had a micro-chip implanted. Everyone was excited to find Willoughby’s owners and return him to his home.
Even though Willoughby’s owner had originally lived only a few towns over, he had died EIGHT months before the dog was found wandering in the road. The Voiceless-MI volunteers attempted to find out where Willoughby had been for those eight months, but their best guess was that he had been wandering around on his own during that time. Willoughby’s constant desire for attention, or even to just be touching a human, reinforced their fear that he had been alone for that entire eight months. Willoughby got a bath, his hair trimmed and eventually found a new forever home, as did Turner.
But not all pets get that lucky.
An estimated 400,000 pets per year must be re-homed because their owners pass away. Around 150,000 of those animals end up in local shelters after their owners pass away. For older pets, ending up in a shelter can be traumatic and they are often passed over for adoption by people seeking kittens and puppies. And the sad truth is that for many older pets, being brought to an animal shelter is likely a death sentence.
Most people would realize that an injured person has children at home that needs care, but not everyone thinks about whether the injured person has pets that are alone. We want to help pet owners think about these scenarios and put plans in place to protect their pets. We want to help keep dogs like Turner from ending up in an animal shelter when it can be avoided with a little planning.
About the Author
Guest writer Becki Mayo is a recent law school graduate who rescues animals in her free time. She is heading up Fido’s Future and hopes that if you are an animal lover you will show support by following the project on Facebook. She is a Boardmember with H.E.A.R.T. and also volunteers with Voiceless-MI.
Submitted Photos: Renee Kidder