I Lost My Dog This Morning
So, my dogs got out of the yard today. One I found immediately; one I frantically drove around the neighborhood for a while looking for him. Fortunately, as a foster, tags were on and the rescue was called, and they got in touch with me immediately. He will be back home in a bit because of the kindness of an ordinary person on the street.
In 50 years of adoption and fostering, this is not the first time it has happened. Because this happens. We have contractors working on the house and today they left the gate open even with our precautionary instructions. Mistakes get made. I stopped them after the dogs were safe and spoke with them again. I didn’t freak out, I firmly told them the rules again and explained I had to spend an hour finding my dogs.
When we see animals on the street, we often think of “irresponsible” public and presume those animals are there because someone just does not care enough (especially if something bad happened to them and they were injured or died). We brand people who have had animals go missing as bad pet owners requiring them to revisit this event on every adoption application and during every adoption interview forever. Some organizations will not adopt to the owner for life if they had an animal go missing or had a bad outcome. One bad outcome.
The vast majority of people love and care for their pets as well as they can. And people who don’t even have pets mostly love or at least like pets. We need to view the world a little differently and understand that circumstances are not black and white. Just because we see an animal running loose does not mean the person responsible for that animal is irresponsible, neglectful or just does not care. In fact, every time we see a lost animal, we need to presume just the opposite. We need to presume that somewhere someone is doing what I did today: freak out, frantically drive around the neighborhood with my elevated heart rate, fearing the worst if I could not find them. Where would I go for help? What would I do? Who would I contact so they would know the dog they see is loved and cared for and part of a family? I would want people to presume the best of me, not the worst, and so that is how every0ne should be viewed.
I am a homeless pet advocate, I spend endless hours outside of my workday and weekends to help pets get to a home, their current home, or a new home if needed. My dogs got out. Other people’s dogs get out. It is not an indication of bad people, nor is it uncommon. For every stray we see, there are hundreds of pets in loving families and some of those families may be doing all they can to find their lost pet.
The only way we save every healthy and treatable homeless pet is to remember that there are people out there that want to help and are doing the right things. We need to jettison our judgment, presume the best of people and do all we can to help those lost pets get back home with an open mind. Without the general public, we can do nothing. They are not the enemy. They are the homes where pets return or go when they have no home. So let's cut people some slack. This can happen to anyone.