When The Wanderer invited Tri-Town residents to send in pet photographs with short blurbs telling us about their animal, we were happily surprised at the outpouring of interest. Pet Pick has become a great success. We were also surprised that the submissions often came from families that had rescued their pet.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of walking around Mattapoisett’s streets and byways can attest to the residents’ love of pets. On any given day, one will find folks out enjoying the weather and the beauty of the area with their canine buddies trotting along beside them. All types of dogs parade the streets: corgis, poodles large and small, papillions, Burmese mountain dogs, beagles, retrievers, new age golden-doodles, Scottish terriers, schnauzers, and, of course, the ever popular Labrador retrievers.
But few may know that a large number of the furry family members living around town have been subjected to the horrors of being born in puppy mills or have suffered near-death experiences.
Recently while I was out with my barking pal, we met up with Lazlo and his human, Brad Smith. We’ve known this black lab for several years and have always enjoyed walking by his home and stopping to say hello and share a treat. But it wasn’t until this week that we learned Lazlo had been rescued. Smith shared that Lazlo came from out-of-state where he had been placed in a shelter with a three-day kill order. In other words, if Lazlo had not been moved to a non-kill shelter or other protected location, he would have been put down.
As oftentimes happens, rescue organizations network with kill centers and remove the animals to non-kill shelters or fostering homes where all efforts are taken to protect, heal, rehabilitate or otherwise prepare these dogs for forever placements throughout the country. The internet is a wonderful resource for locating dogs and cats in the face of certain termination that need the kindness and love of humans. And that is how Lazlo’s family found him.
As I researched the growing trend for humans to reach out to rescue organizations, I also learned how seriously these organizations take the work they are doing. Rescue groups understand the importance to giving these animals the best home possible. To that end, they require written agreements which take many forms but basically ensure each placement is done with the animal’s needs and not the humans’ needs as the primary focus.
Adopting families will be asked to consider such things as the mental and emotional needs of the dog, their ability to commit time and financial resources to the new family member, and probably the biggest question: why they want the dog.
Given that the average dog will live approximately 12 years, anyone taking on the responsibility for caring for a dog needs to consider just how profound that commit is to them and the dog.
Rescue organizations will help with matching a pet to the family, ensuring the placement can be successful. If you are thinking about rescuing a dog, you’ll want to take the following into consideration: how much time you can give the dog each day, whether your home and yard is set up to handle a pet, your understanding and ability to give the dog training, and grooming, socializing and exercising the dog. Yes, there are many things to think about before getting a dog. But with a rescue that may be traumatized, these considerations are critical to a happy beginning in a forever home.
Lazlo’s owner told me, “We couldn’t have hoped for more. He’s turned out to be a wonderful dog.” As Lazlo looked up at Smith, you could see he agreed. And that is the ideal outcome rescue groups are striving towards.
Yet Lazlo isn’t the only lucky dog in town. There is Ron and Diane Merlo’s Dixie. A beagle/dachshund mix living the good life on a small farm on Prospect Street, Dixie came to Mattapoisett two years ago. When asked how he would describe Dixie, Merlo was quick to say: “Happy, gentle, perfect.”
These families are proud not so much of themselves but of the beauty and goodness of the animals they have brought into a forever home — their home.
Certainly, there are more animals waiting for a chance to live the good life in Mattapoisett then there are homes for them to go to. But for those who do find their way here, they are pretty much guaranteed loving acceptance and in place that truly is “special.”
By Marilou Newell