April 25th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 2 Comments
I made my Monday visit to AFCD in Pokfulam today (I know it’s Tuesday) and was faced with a kennel block full of new dogs, all of whose lives depend on my decision, whether I take for re-homing or leave to be destroyed. This is without doubt the worst and most difficult part of my work and one that I dread , especially on days like today when there are so many waiting for that call, a yes or a no. After all the years that I’ve been doing this, I believe that the dogs know. Some of them don’t even expect to be chosen and they face the other way, not looking at me or responding at all. Some show fear, especially those that have previously been in a home and suddenly find themselves in a place that is strange and scary, surrounded by other dogs in the same situation. The old dogs seem to just accept their fate although I suspect they’re simply in shock, while puppies are often quite oblivious.
There was a family of five (almost) black labradors, surrendered by their owner because the landlord (on Cheung Chau) wouldn’t renew the lease on the home and there was nowhere else that would accept the dogs. They were all wearing new and expensive collars and I’m guessing they have been much-loved pets. I want to save them but there are five, so where will they all go? They are scared, of course, but I’m sure they’ll be fine once in a place where they feel safe.
There were more puppies, not babies, all in together and one (lucky) singleton in another kennel. It’s much easier for me to take one than to choose a whole group, or to select individuals when they all have the same right to life.
The van was loaded with boxes that had been picked up from the warehouse so there wasn’t much room in the back, but I had already said that I’d take the bull terrier that had been waiting a while. I knew that he was friendly to humans but I didn’t know how he was with other dogs, and it was something that I was concerned about given the lack of individual kennel space at any of our centres. I’d been hoping that we’d have a foster or even a home for him to go to before I took him out, but there was nothing and nowhere lined up. It was apparent as he passed other kennels on his way out that the bull terrier was going to be a problem, as he was acting aggressively towards the dogs inside (and luckily behind bars) and straining against the leash to get at them.
With the bull terrier and one old pug (who had been surrendered with all his medicines) in crates, plus the singleton puppy on my lap, that was as many as could be fitted in for this trip and we left for Acorn. I was worrying about the bull terrier throughout the drive, sending messages to May at Tai Po and asking if there was anywhere that he could be kept away from others while knowing that there really wasn’t but hoping that somehow a spot would miraculously appear.
When we arrived at the vet clinic, I exchanged the pug (Billy Bunter) in the crate for the puppy, thinking that the pug would be easy to have on a leash while waiting to see the vet and the puppy would be more comfortable in the crate than being carried. When it was our turn, I went into the consult room with the two crates and dog-on-leash, not really knowing if there was anything really wrong with the pug other than dry eye and yeasty skin. Everything else checked out fine so it’s really just a matter of lubricating eyedrops and the usual antibiotics plus medicated shampoo, with probably a special diet in case of food allergy.
With Bunter’s check-up over he was put back on the floor while I went to get the puppy out of the crate. It took a nano-second for me to realise that I had opened the wrong door and as much time for the now-free bull terrier to shoot out and grab the pug round the neck. It’s at times like these that I’m extremely grateful for experienced vets who are able and willing to handle such situations without panicking and – although I’m not sure how – the two dogs were separated and the pug pushed out of the room with the door slammed shut behind him. At that point, with the bull terrier happily wagging his tail, I had to make a tough decision. I thought about the five (almost) labradors at AFCD and all the other dogs whose lives were hanging in the balance, and what it would mean if the bull terrier was sent to Tai Po, and I chose the easy dogs against this one boy who would be a huge liability and risk.
I’m telling this story because HKDR is a committed No Kill organisation, meaning that no dog in our care will be destroyed unless it is the only humane option. However there are times when keeping a dog puts other lives at risk, whether human or animal, and while it usually applies to seriously aggressive dogs that pose a danger to people, this bull terrier would not only be a potential dog killer but he would never be able to live a life other than being confined. To me that is no life, and my decision to have him quickly and painlessly put to sleep was, to me, the only responsible thing to do.
You must be wondering about the pug, and the funny – if you can call it that – thing is that he was completely unfazed by the whole experience. We opened the door expecting to find blood and a mangled body, but there was Bunter acting as if nothing had happened. Admittedly he had completely voided his bowels as he was being attacked and the whole consult room floor was covered in poo, but apart from that there was no sign of anything. There are times when being a fat pug is a good thing.
If anyone reading this blog today will consider helping the (almost) labrador family, please let me know. I don’t have details of ages or anything else, but from the looks of them there is a mother (and father?) with offspring. Please email me at sally@hongkongdogrescue if you want more information (when I have it).
This Saturday afternoon is the Wine Walk at Stanley so don’t forget to buy your tickets while there are still some available.
We also have the two sets of tickets up for grabs for the Lady Gaga shows if you are a fan and suddenly realise you have missed out. All details are on Facebook and our website, and we’re open for bids ……..