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How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary

July 22, 2012 Leave a comment

How I Failed as a Rescuer: Lessons from a Sanctuary.

Check out this blog post for a very poignant commentary on what it means to “save” an animal.

Categories: Pets

Life with Winnie

July 6, 2012 1 comment

Winnie is my foster kitten. She’s quickly growing into my foster cat. She’s been with us for two months. My dog is intrigued by her. My cats disdain her. My boyfriend and I are probably getting a little too attached to her. She’s taking us all in like a giant gulp of water in a desert oasis.

I met Winnie when she was a nameless 3-month old kitten in a parking lot of a rundown apartment complex. A sweet soul in a scrawny body, she was malnourished, covered in grease from living under cars, and had a broken pelvis. The origin of the pelvis injury remains a mystery to this day.

Winnie’s prognosis in a shelter was guarded, at best. For an owned animal in a private vet clinic, it’s no big deal to order many months of convalescence without the promise of a good outcome. Owners are willing to give their pets the best chance possible, especially when the treatment consists of simply giving them time for their bodies to heal on their own.

But time is a luxury that shelters don’t have. Especially during the busy summer months. It’s hard enough to find a foster parent willing to take on medical cases. It’s even harder for a shelter to take up one of these rare foster homes for several months on one case. Why commit a home to one animal for the summer when multiple easier cases could come and go through that home in the same time frame? It’s the sacrifice one to save many theory, and it’s a concept that shelters unfortunately have to fall back on regularly.

Because of these factors, Winnie would not normally have had much of a chance. But something in her caught my heart, and I volunteered to foster this unlikely foster candidate. I knew the risk: after months of foster care, her pelvis still wouldn’t heal properly and we’d have to euthanize her. But she deserved a chance. And I didn’t like the thought of what denying her that chance would say about me.

Two months have gone by. Winnie has turned into a sleek, active, playful cat who capers around the house causing joyful havoc at every turn. Her severe limp has become a slight limp. She’s put on muscle in her back legs to even out the incredible hulk muscles in her chest that she used to support her weight when her back end couldn’t. Her meow still sounds a little froggy, a little abrasive. It’s a meow that says, “I came from the streets.” And when she looks out the window and watches the birds fly by, I wonder if she remembers her street life. But as she turns to look into my eyes before skittering off in pursuit of a toy in the next room, I’m convinced that she doesn’t miss the street life.

So many pets like Winnie exist—loving creatures who just need a little extra help. Giving that help doesn’t take a giant effort. But it’s easy enough to turn away and not offer, then quickly forget. My life would have gone on as usual had I not brought Winnie home. But hers wouldn’t have.

Life without Winnie would have been fine. But life with Winnie is better.

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