To The Ones That Couldn’t Be Saved…

“I am writing this, as I remember the ones I couldn’t save. These are the ones that keep me up at night. These are the ones where love just wasn’t enough.”

 

6.14.16 - To The Ones That Couldn't Be Saved1

 

While there are many joys to animal rescue – knowing a life has been saved, watching their first feelings of comfort and happiness, seeing them go to a loving home.  But there are its downsides, and the worst is having to say goodbye to a dog who is just too badly damaged to change…

This comes from Janine at Speranza Animal Rescue:

To the ones that couldn’t be saved…..

I have started writing a post on this subject numerous times in the past months. But I always deleted it…. 

Trying to find the right words is something I struggle with. Knowing that there will be many that sit behind their computers and not understand. As I sit here and type through the tears – I know many will pass judgement, and just won’t ‘get it.’

Being a rehabilitation center, we take many dogs off the streets, never knowing their past or history. We take some dogs from shelters that can’t be evaluated, due to aggression – we assume it’s fear based, but we never know until they arrive here. 

I have had over 300 dogs, primarily pit bulls or ‘bully breeds’ come to Speranza throughout the past 4 years. Many have gone off to forever families, some will remain lifers – meaning they will remain here for the rest of their days – happily and loved. 

But then there are the handful of dogs that have come here – and their endings are never spoken of. 

They are the ones where love wasn’t enough. Whether it be a chemical imbalance, or just so much trauma from their past life – we will never know. 

I have been bitten. Badly. A bite to the face. My lip almost completely detached. It took the plastic surgeon over 3 hours to stitch me back up. He described my face as an ‘onion.’ Having to start stitching each layer – from the inside out… That dog is still here today. Why? Because he had a reason to bite. It WAS provoked, and I only blame myself. He is a lifer as he has certain triggers that we understand here, and we respect them. 

I have been attacked. Two years ago I brought in a dog that was deemed dangerous by the state. On the 6th day he was here – I was sitting with him and my boyfriend outside in the yard. The dog was sitting on my lap, showering me with kisses. 

I took him inside to his kennel, he tried to push out. I pushed him back in. I saw that ‘look’ in his eyes. And the next thing I know he had me cornered. And was lunging for my throat. To this day if my boyfriend hadn’t heard my screams, I would be dead. And I believe that with every inch of my heart.

He was euthanized. He had demons inside that couldn’t be fixed. Love wasn’t enough for him. I cried beside him, as he was euthanized, with a catch pole around his neck. 

I wasn’t helping him cross the rainbow bridge. I wasn’t able to hold him tight – had to watch him fight to his very last breath – I told him through the tears that I loved him and it wasn’t his fault. But I don’t know that he believed me. 

There have been a few others that had to leave that way.  No warning. No bite and release. One bite. Holding on. And shaking violently. These are the ones that need to ‘let go.’

These are the ones that I can’t have around and risk the welfare of myself or others. These are the ones that hurt my heart the most. 

I will never and have never euthanized a dog for a bite and release with a warning – and I never will. As that’s the part of rehabilitation. Finding out those triggers and working through them.

I am writing this, as I remember the ones I couldn’t save. And my heart is breaking. These are the ones that keep me up at night. These are the ones I blame myself for. These are the ones where love just wasn’t enough. 

To those few. Please know I think of you often. I cry about you frequently. And you will forever be in my heart.

4 thoughts on “To The Ones That Couldn’t Be Saved…

  1. No judgement. Only gratitude and awe. I could never do what you do, as it would be more pain than I could bear. You are a hero. Thank you for being there to save those who can be saved, and love those who need to “let go”.

  2. Just breaks my heart knowing ther are so many who just cant be saved. Not helping them cross over the rainbow bridge is the worst.
    Every time one of my fur babies had to be helped my heart breaks but always in my heart i know i did the best for them and we will be together again at some point.

  3. I know exactly how you feel and share your pain for I do the same thing that you do. I too take the traumatized from the rescue I work for with the intent of re-habilitating them. These are the dogs that are so wary of humans that that the rehabilitation process involves leaving them be (affection must come later), using a soft voice, establishing a routine and taking care of their needs. You leave them be, without forcing affection on them, so that they can observe and eventually make the decision to trust again. The trust can take weeks or months to develop. You will know when it happens because they will come to you seeking affection and, that is when the true work begins.

    The warning such a dog gives prior to a bite is a gift and we as handlers should listen as they are trying to communicate their fear. Those dogs must be given the space they are asking for. And I agree that, if I as their handler missed the warning I would never blame the dog for biting me. Instead I would reevaluate my approach with the dog. I have many bites on my body and I am sure there will be more as I continue in this work. The bites are the fault of the unknown human abuser that came before me.

    And, then there are the dogs that you are writing about. The poor souls that are so traumatized, with such complex triggers, that they can transition from calm to “fighting for my life” mode in a heartbeat. They are the ones that break my heart too. We do our best for them but sometimes the horror of what was done to them cannot be healed and you have to let them go. It is an agonizing decision and it is not the dogs fault.

    This work is hard because it makes you want to hate human beings; it is also very rewarding to see a dog mentally heal and enjoy life again. You have to focus on the many successes it’s all you can do.

  4. I am crying over this article. I am not a 501c3 rescue. I am just one person-a dog lover who fosters for rescues. In the past 8 years I have fostered and watched 30 or more dogs happily go to adoptive homes. Only one has been deemed unadoptable. Deaf, beautiful and so damaged that she attacked when 2 humans were in the same room with her. I stopped counting the bites after bite 10. I still miss her. I wish I could have saved her from her horrible fears and nightmares. She would shudder and whimper in her sleep. Tear apart the house trying to get out to find a human to huddle next to in fear of being alone. Yet she could not cope with two people in her presence. The other dogs avoided her; she did not know how to play and would fight without warning over something as ordinary as a wind blown leaf touching her. I still struggle with what I can do to save her. She is in boarding now, where she is no longer a risk to humans. But she can not stay in boarding forever. That is not a life for a dog. But the alternative is no life at all. I do not know how to help her. She deserves to live a better life than she was dealt at birth. But how? This article reminds me that sometimes there are worse things than euthanasia for dogs-those souls too tortured to heal, to dangerous to save.

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