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The Heartbreak of Rescue: Remembering Digby

UPDATE: We are deeply saddened to announce that our Digby passed away last night after struggling over the last several days with unexplained internal bleeding. He seemed to lose blood as quickly as we transfused it into him, and he did not come back to us following surgery, which we hoped would explain the source of the bleeding. Digby’s loving foster moms were with Digby at the end, and told him that they adopt him – that he will always be theirs and they his.

Digby came to United Hope for Animals from the Baldwin Park Shelter, where he was suffering from Demodex mange. While a bald Pit Bull in a crowded shelter might normally be easy to overlook – Digby had unparalleled charisma and charm, winning the hearts of every volunteer and shelter employee he met. Over the last fourteen weeks, under the attentive eye of his foster family, Digby thrived and grew back a beautiful coat of fur that made him as handsome outside as he was beautiful inside.

Sweet face Digby, recovered

Sweet face Digby, recovered

Digby was an extraordinary dog – an ambassador for his often-misunderstood breed – who loved all people big and small, dogs, and cats. He was a cheerful boy who loved to swim, give kisses, and could always be enticed into a play session. Digby’s gentle soul will be deeply missed.
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Daisy’s Dream Comes True

Working in animal rescue can be extremely difficult. Hearing about beautiful creatures being euthanized at shelters, day in, day out, frequently gets overwhelming. Sometimes, the animal’s health is fading fast and it seems like the only humane solution, but far more often than not it’s a pet with many more years left in it, just the victim of overcrowding and overpopulation.

So when we’re able to intervene to save even one life, it helps ease the pain. Take the story of Daisy, for instance.

One day, Menna, one of our volunteers, was at Southern California Animal Hospital and noticed a strange energy in the office surrounding a woman and her Jack Russell Terrier, Daisy. It turned out that the woman’s husband was ill and they were remodeling their yard and, because she felt she could not longer take care of the dog, she’d taken her in to be euthanized. Apparently, she just wasn’t aware that there were other options for Daisy.

Not surprisingly, the staff didn’t want to put down a perfectly healthy, seemingly well-socialized pet, but they needed an alternative. Menna was able to intervene and boarded the dog for a few days while UHA looked for a foster or adopter for Daisy.

Around this time, one of our beloved rescue dogs, Lancelot, passed away and another of our volunteers, Amanda, decided to foster Daisy in his memory. Although she hadn’t felt quite ready, when she saw Menna’s plea along with the photo of Daisy, she knew she couldn’t resist.

Daisy-fenceAmanda explains, “Thankfully, I was able to step in straight away so that Daisy wouldn’t have to enter into the shelter system and be exposed to cold, stress and communicable diseases. I took photos of her at once and within two weeks we had two interested adopters.

The man who adopted her, Tom, fell madly in love with her. Even though initially his home situation wasn’t ideal (Daisy was a “bolter” and he didn’t have a front yard), he was willing to do whatever modifications were needed to make his home suitable for Daisy.

He ended up getting two doggie gates so that Daisy wouldn’t be able to shoot out the door into the street when they opened the door.

Daisy is Tom’s princess. He takes her everywhere he goes, and I think she’s probably got a rhinestone collar and matching leash!”

Indeed, it has been a fairy-tale ending for Daisy. As Tom puts it, “Daisy is a wonderful member of our family. We can we can hardly recall a time when she wasn’t a part of our daily lives. She goes everywhere with us. Whether it is uptown to get doggie snacks, off to have lunch or even a cross-country drive to visit friends and family, she is joyfully always there with her little tail wagging.

Her curiosity is unquenchable as is her lack of fear. She is so eager to see new things and meet as many dogs as she can. We have a wonderful vet whom she adores visiting! It’s so cute to watch her get excited about going into the office there when we go in there.

You can often find us at the Sierra Madre dog park in the mornings or venturing out and about through our neighborhood. She loves going for truck rides, so we’ll often take a little trip to new places for her to explore.

She is so happy.

Thank you again to you and your folks at United Hope for Animals for having the compassion and care to save her from destruction and bringing such joy and happiness to our lives.”

Amanda sums up, “Dog rescue is often heartbreaking when you see what some of these kind, innocent souls have been through, being neglected and mistreated, but when you are able to save a life, and give a dog that has plenty of years left a new happy home, it makes it all worthwhile. It really is a matter of just getting their sweet little faces out there in front of the public, and finding people who are willing to spend some of their free time helping these dogs get photographed and listed online to make a difference. Sometimes all you need to do is get a great photo and tell people a little about its personality and the before you know it the perfect person will come along.”

Check out these photos of Daisy in her new home – we think you’ll agree she’s content!

Daisy-grass

How to find your pet a new home

UHA receives many inquiries from anxious dog owners who have realized they won’t be able to take care of their pet for much longer but who don’t know how to go about finding a new home for it.

The number of calls and emails hits a peak in summer, when shelters are already rammed. Terrified dogs escape from their yards during the Fourth of July fireworks, people drop off their dogs when they go on vacation – either not knowing or not caring that their safety isn’t guaranteed – others move and make no provisions for their animals… the list is endless.

If you find yourself in the difficult position of having to look for a new home for your dog, the important thing is to be proactive. We’ve put together a plan of action you can follow.

I am attentive!

1. Above all, be aware that leaving your dog at a shelter should be a last resort, not a first port of call. Not everyone knows this, partly because the word ‘shelter’ implies a refuge, a place of safety, where an animal will be secure for as long as necessary, until a new owner comes forward.

Some people even think shelters can house a limitless number of animals and that they actually make money from taking them in and adopting them out. This couldn’t be further from the truth: most shelters are severely underfunded, adoption rates vary wildly from shelter to shelter and even most of the so-called no-kill shelters are full and have to turn away animals.

2. Start early. You can give your dog a much better chance if you begin looking for a new home as soon as possible. You might not want to give up your pet, but allowing yourself enough time to take the necessary action can make a huge difference in keeping your dog out of the shelter.

I love cuddles!

3. Ask a rescue group for a “courtesy listing” on their website and/or Facebook page. Even if a rescue is full and can’t take your dog it may well agree do this, by posting an ad on Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet that includes a description and photos and/or video, as well as your contact details. In return, consider making a donation to the rescue group as a thank you.

4. Make some good-quality marketing materials. Do not underestimate the importance of this. Whether you’re creating a flier, soliciting the help of a rescue group, or posting an ad on Craigslist, the quality of the description – and, in particular, the photos – makes a huge difference. Videos, which can be taken with most mobile phones, are also really helpful and can be published for free on YouTube, Facebook and the like. 

For the description, people will want to know:

•    Profile: what’s the dog’s breed, sex, age, weight, general personality and temperament?
•    Is it good/not good with: dogs, cats, kids?
•    Is it housetrained? Leash trained?
•    Medical information: Does it have any health issues? Is it up-to-date on vaccinations? Altered? Microchipped?

Include information on the dog’s personality – does the dog have any endearing habits? What kind of home would he/she do well in? You know your dog best, so the more intimate the description, the better. While people will want to know why you are rehoming your pet, the majority of the description should focus on the dog. Keep it positive.

In addition, when compiling a description, it helps to visualize the perfect adopter for your pet, and to write the description to appeal to that person.

For photos, people will want to see:

•    Multiple images – a good face shot and shots that show the body/size of the dog.
•    A happy, relaxed expression and body language.
•    An outside setting, with natural light, preferably on green grass.
•    For small dogs – show them in someone’s arms to help give an idea of their size.
•    Photos that show all of the elements the dog works well with – especially children and other dogs.
•    Avoid: dark photos, the dog tied up (get someone to hold the leash – it looks friendlier anyway), the dog looking down (it distorts its face/expression).

For videos, people will want to see:

•    How the dog interacts with people, other dogs, etc.
•    How the dog walks on a leash.

Take as many of these steps as you can and your dog will stand a much better chance of finding a great new home.

I am great with kids!

Finding Nemo A Home

Although most of the dogs that United Hope for Animals rescues come from Baldwin Park Animal Care Center, we are sometimes able to help other local facilities too. This was the case with Nemo. We recently got a call from the sergeant at Downey shelter asking us if there was anything we could do for this special dog, a little two-month-old pit bull born with a deformed front leg. As soon as we saw him we knew we couldn’t say no!

Nemo leaving the shelter, before his surgery.

We arranged for our vet to take a look at Nemo as quickly as possible, and he informed us that the leg would need to be amputated. Even though it was only 3/4 the length it should be, Nemo kept trying to use it, and it would throw off his balance and make it hard for him to walk.

UHA set about raising the money for the surgery and, with the help of additional donations to our Angel Rescue Fund, as well as a pledge from the Heigl Foundation, we soon had enough for the procedure.

The operation was a success, and just two weeks later Nemo found his forever home with a wonderful woman in Long Beach. He is doing very well and is adored by all who meet him. 

Nemo gets a cuddle from his new mom.

He is the sweetest little puppy, and so appreciative for this second chance at life, just as United Hope for Animals is appreciative to all those who helped rescue him. Without our Angel Rescue Fund, we would not be able to save as many lives as we do. 

Please consider making a donation to the fund – by clicking on the link at the bottom left of this page – so that we can continue our crucial work.