Something good came out of the Washington state Olympic Animal Sanctuary debacle a year ago…besides the eventual release of most of the doggie hostages and their freedom and placement with other rescue groups. (which of course, was HUGE!)
To read all the good news for these dogs and see where they are today, visit the facebook page that started it all: http://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674
To see the history of this case and read more about DDB’s involvement, visit this link: http://dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html
It was one year ago this week that I was arrested in the line of duty (ha!) while protesting in front of the ugly pink warehouse in Forks, Washington. The subsequent video of my arrest has been viewed almost 40,000 times here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3dobZuVeQE
If you think I actually enjoy getting arrested by how often it seems to happen, you’d want to think again—it’s a miserable business. But the reality of the situation for animals in this country is that those with a moral code that screams STOP the ABUSE are often pummeled by misuse of the law and failure to enforce cruelty laws.
It seems the old adage is true—if you raise your head above the sand long enough, someone will be more than willing and waiting to chop it off.
What we learned as an animal rescue community from the OAS war and debacle is that dog sanctuaries are in heavy need of some watching.
Here’s the truth. I believe that MOST Sanctuaries start out with the best of intentions: to help the animals. However, many quickly get in over their heads, as they find that people are all too willing to send them dogs…and more dogs…and more dogs.
And they don’t know how to say NO.
And they think if they say NO then they will never get another donation. They get donations by saying YES. So they say YES.
And the downhill progression begins. Because what they aren’t telling you—and we all should know this but we don’t—is that EACH AND EVERY DOG REQUIRES HOURS OF TIME AND CARE. AND EVERY DOG IS A BURDEN ON STAFF AND VOLUNTEER TIME. AND IF YOU DON’T OR CAN’T PROVIDE THAT TIME AND CARE TO EACH DOG, THEY SUFFER AND THEIR HEALTH GOES DOWNHILL.
And then you’re just a hoarder.
As the founder of Dogs Deserve Better, I learned this firsthand when we bought Michael Vick’s former dogfighting compound and moved there in 2011 with the intention to transform it to the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
From 2002-2011, I rescued out of my home, and the most dogs I EVER had in my home at any one time was 8-9 (and that was if there were rescue puppies ONLY; short term).
Usually I fostered between 4-5, because that was something I could manage without jumping off the nearest bridge.
But when we moved to Virginia—with two women and 8 dogs in tow—we were immediately accosted with requests to take dogs. We had no fencing, no money to build, and a 4600 sq. ft. home to work with.
People didn’t care that we were not yet ready to take in more than 1-2 dogs on top of what we brought with us.
They were angry that we weren’t immediately the end product we envisioned: a state-of-the-art facility with the ability to rehabilitate 50 dogs at a time.
It really wore on my self-esteem, to find myself in the beginning of the dream for Dogs Deserve Better, but to be expected to be years down the road in terms of progress by the general public. I couldn’t meet the expectations.
We could have overwhelmed ourselves saying YES when we had no room. We could have used Vick’s kennels that came with the property, even though this is exactly what we work against.
We said NO, and endured a lot of anger and hatred and badmouthing as a result. It was hard.
But it was the right thing to do.
Today, until we can build (we are fundraising for our wing here), we are still limited by the state of Virginia to housing 13 dogs inside our building. We still take heat for that, but I will not jeopardize our organization to please a few people that end up not pleased again next month anyway.
Through our path from 2011 until today, we’ve rescued and rehabilitated over 160 dogs from this small space and done it the right way.
We want to double the number of dogs by adding an addition with doggie bedrooms, but we can’t do that unless we have the funding to build. Until that happens, we will stick to 13 dogs, and we will do our very best with these dogs to get them healthy, housetrained, vetted, socialized, and moved into new homes and families so we can rescue the next dog and the next dog off a chain and give them the same level of care.
That’s what they deserve, and we know that. We hope you do too.
From the Washington debacle a fledging group has formed, and is visiting nonprofit sanctuaries to ensure they are who they say they are. I say it’s about time.
Dogs Deserve Better’s doors are always open to you. [And by always, I mean from 10-2 p.m., or by appointment.] If you are a nonprofit rescuing animals, then you must have an open door policy and allow others IN.
Sanctuaries that won’t allow the public in are doing something to be ashamed of. There’s just no other way to see it.
I am proud of our Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained Dogs. Is it perfect? Hell, no. But we rarely have a visitor that doesn’t go away impressed with what we are doing and happy for the change we brought to a property that used to house nothing but cruelty.
If a sanctuary has more dogs that staff or volunteers can handle, they have too many dogs. If one person is running a sanctuary of 100-300 dogs? Forget about it! There is NO WAY it’s being run appropriately and the dogs are being cared for.
Sanctuary Watch has just took on their first case, and you can read all about it here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sanctuary-Watch/963306607031716
I’m impressed with the way the case is being handled, and that they are showing compassion for the management of the nonprofit. However, the bottom line is things need to change for these dogs, and they need to change fast.
Bread for food? Unacceptable!
Dogs living outside in worse conditions than they were rescued from? Inexcusable.
We all have to do our best for rescue dogs. Often our best includes saying the word NO and meaning it. If you can’t take in more dogs and give them the quality of life they deserve while in foster or shelter care, then you need to say NO until you can.
Giving dogs the care they need is costly. It currently costs DDB almost $150,000 a year in staffing to ensure that our dogs get two daily walks in the fields, fed twice a day, clean water, socialization, obedience training, clean bedding and living areas, and house training. A behavioral therapist comes twice a week to work with both dogs and staff to ensure we are meeting the needs of the dogs. They get love, games, treats, toys.
This beginning case with Sanctuary Watch proves that if you want to take care of dogs, you have to spend the money to do it right.
That brings me to my special request, and is a critical need within Dogs Deserve Better right now. Would you be willing to sponsor an hour of care for our dogs each month? Even one hour of care per month ensures we can keep staff paid and give our dogs the care that is needed and deserved. Read more and set up your sponsorship here: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/ddbcenter.html
Our dogs and staff thank you!
P.S. We’ve raised $5000 toward our addition since we started fundraising earlier this month, and we need at least $300,000 to get serious and break ground. This month, Paypal is matching 1% of all donations through Razoo, so if you can give even a little toward our addition, donate here: http://givingtuesday.razoo.com/story/Raise-The-Roof-For-Rescue-Dogs-On-Givingtuesday