They say you never forget your first.
Your first kiss, your first love, your first car. Firsts are fleeting, but they often last us a lifetime. For those lucky enough to call ourselves animal rescuers — legitimate, certified rescuers who have been properly trained and run healthy operations — you certainly never forget the first animal you rescue — or, as it’s known in our world, “pull”.
At our organization, to be put on the Rescue Pull List is an honor — a sign of trust and respect. It is a privilege earned, not given away. Our organization deals exclusively with dogs, and always sends two people, minimum, on a rescue mission — one person to watch body language, the other to dispense treats, make noise, or do other things to try and yield a reaction from any dog we are considering. The goal is to get them out of the shelters and into loving homes, and although we have taken on many intense behavioral and physical rehab cases, most of the dogs we focus on are wrong place, wrong time scenarios.
I was put on the Rescue Pull List shortly after the New Year, after almost a year working for the organization and several ride-alongs to shelters, and was told to plan a rescue mission with my co-worker. This co-worker and I are close outside of work – bonded by our passion for unique breeds — she is a proud pitbull mom and advocate, I, a wolf hybrid enthusiast. As such, we spent hours texting back and forth about what shelter we should go to and what dogs looked interesting. We had a lot of space, and wanted to go some place that needed us, badly.
We eventually decided on Lancaster Shelter. We had not been there in almost a year, and the process of pulling from there was known to be notoriously stressful compared to some shelters closer to us. We began to compile a list of dogs to inquire about — a compendium of various ages, breeds, and stories. However, as we were preparing for the mission, a Facebook group called Saving Carson Shelter Dogs brought the plight of a young mother dog and her two day-old puppies to our attention.
The mother had been incorrectly labeled as a Staffordshire Terrier (aka Pitbull… in reality, she was probably a Dachshund/Labrador Retriever mix), and as such, due to legalities based on public prejudice, was barred for release unless a rescue stepped in. They were impounded at Carson Shelter, a county location notorious for high-kill rates due to almost constant intake, as well as poor living conditions. Many of the dogs taken there needed severe medical attention; kennel cough, mange and pneumonia were rampant. It was a dangerous place for a mother and her young puppies to be, even in the “isolated” medical ward.
Our New Arrival/ISO Kennel is divided into two sides — one side features two larger kennels — enough to comfortably accommodate a 200 lb. Mastiff — the other side, five mid-size kennels that would contain a large German Shepherd with ease. We figured we could keep mom and her pups on the two-kennel side, then still plan on our original mission to Lancaster — just put those dogs on the other side, to keep the babies safe from the almost guaranteed illness the Lancaster dogs would carry. After a few phone calls, we picked a date to go down to the Carson Shelter andin the meantime, my co-worker started perusing the Carson Shelter Animal Shelter site, looking at their available dogs. She would send me pictures of poor, sad dogs locked in filthy cages with pleading eyes, but, as much as it pained me, I tried to remain steadfast and focused on the mission….
CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK FOR PART II
“Jorden Samois is the current Outreach / Mobile Pet Adoption Coordinator for New Leash On Life Rescue, a 501c3 non-profit dog rescue and NKLA Coalition Partner located just outside Santa Clarita, California. She is the proud mom of three small former-shelter dogs, as well as two rabbits, also rescued from a shelter. She has a passion for and certifications in Canine Nutrition, which she uses to help New Leash On Life fulfill it’s non-rescue related mission of empowering animal owners through education and communication. Together with an amazing team of talented co-workers and volunteers, she strives to do her part to save lives and make kill-shelters a thing of the past. “