Friday, October 19, 2012

When Abandonment Is Just the Beginning

Some animal shelters have drop-off areas where people may leave/“surrender” their pets anonymously, thereby transferring responsibility of the animals’ care to the shelter. This practice is not unlike the city ordinances allowing people to drop off babies at fire stations and hospitals. As much as we hate providing for such circumstances, it’s loads better than the alternative: abandonment.

I’ve heard one report after another of animals abandoned here in the Bluegrass: the dogs thrown out of cars, the puppies hidden in a dog-food bag along a road, the pregnant ponies dumped in a field, the animals left in foreclosed homes. You get the picture. Earlier this year, two hikers discovered just how far some people will go to get rid of a pet.

In the White Mountains of New England, on a stretch of wilderness travelled only by experienced purists, the hikers noticed a large box. Before they had enough time to puzzle through how and why it was there, it moved! Cautiously, they peeked inside. Staring back at them was a small, unkempt, sickly, senior dog.

Whoever left him there had taken great pains to position him where he wouldn’t be found, in an area from which he wouldn’t likely escape. But in all the person’s strategizing, s/he apparently didn’t consider how the kindness of a couple of strangers can snowball.

The hikers believed the dog would be bear bait if left on the mountainside. So they agreed to carry him to the nearest town and find a shelter that could help him.

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”
—Amelia Earhart

The shelter staff dubbed the little fellow “Scruffy” and told his story on their Facebook page, where author Tom Ryan saw it. Scruffy needed expensive medical treatment that Ryan knew the shelter could hardly afford. Since he had once benefitted from the kindness of strangers himself—or, rather, his dog had—Ryan spread the word about Scruffy’s predicament on his own Facebook page. From across the country, fans of his book, Following Atticus, quickly covered the costs for the patient. Better yet, a local couple adopted Scruffy.

Then, when a happy ending seemed on the horizon, Scruffy’s health took a dive. Once more, Ryan rallied his readers to the cause and again they came through. What’s more, the vet staff was so impressed by the number of people pulling for Scruffy that they kept their fees to a minimum—a blessing for the young couple who had adopted the forsaken pooch, never expecting the roller-coaster of worry and fear and hope he would also cost them.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because today, Scruffy is healthy and home. His journey from mountaintop abandonment to a loving family is a reminder that sometimes it really does take a village. Sometimes, it takes the kindness of many strangers to change the direction of one small life.

Was it worth it? Heck, yeah! Whenever we act together in kindness, we improve our world—if only by a tiny, furry bit.

[Photo of Davis Path by Tom Pirro; photo of Scruffy by one of his adoptive guardians, Corey Engfer.]

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...