On the evening of January 27, 2012, a mix-breed puppy named Daisy arrived at her new home in Montgomery County, MD. Daisy, now officially named Gabriella, resides with my husband and I, and our 3 other rescue dogs. The road to Montgomery County wasn’t an easy one for Gabby. Her story isn’t unlike thousands of other stories associated with shelter and rescue dogs and cats that find themselves living at shelters across the United States through no fault of their own.
The internet and Facebook have given new voices to the residents of animal shelters. Through the miracle of social networking, animal advocates have new avenues to share the stories of these dogs and cats with the public. One of these stories was Daisy’s:
I found Daisy’s photo on Facebook the night of January 14, 2012. Hers was among the many helpless faces of shelter dogs and cats living on “death row”; and hoping for a pardon. The majority, of course, are euthanized. But some, like Daisy, do fall through the cracks and are adopted, rescued, and/or pardoned from death row because of the attention they receive via PetPardons.com.
Before choosing Diaisy, I would sit at my computer every night before bed and dutifully advocate for each new dog and cat featured on Facebook by Pet Pardons volunteers that wasn’t there the night before. I made sure I would not miss a single opportunity to help save a life. And then I saw her little face. Daisy’s expression of need and helplessness spoke volumes to me. Then I read her bio. She was a mix of what the shelter called a Feist and a Beagle. “What’s a Feist?”, I thought to myself. I had never heard of that breed before. I googled Feist:
“As Feists are bred for hunting, not as show dogs, there is little to no consistency in appearance (breed type), and they may be purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dogs. They are identified more by the way they hunt and their size than by their appearance.
The feist is not a new type of dog. Written accounts of the dogs go back centuries, with several spelling variations seen. Abraham Lincoln wrote about them in a poem, “The Bear Hunt,” spelling “feist” as “fice.” Reference to them is included in the diary of George Washington in 1770 in which he wrote, “A small foist looking yellow cur,” and a feist is also featured in William Faulkner’s “Go Down Moses” in the line “a brave fyce dog is killed by a bear,” as well as in his short story “The Bear.” In her 1938 novel The Yearling, author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings uses the spelling of “feist” to refer to this dog. Claude Shumate, who wrote about the feist for Full Cry magazine, believed that the feist was descended from Native American dogs, mixed with small terriers from Britain, and was kept as early as the 17th century. (Full Cry, December, 1987).
It all sounded good to me, so I delved further into Daisy’s history. Marilyn Lancaster responded to my email:
“Daisy and her 6 litter mates came to the shelter when they were 8 weeks old. We always try to find foster care for puppies that young and they were sent to a foster home. 2 of the puppies were rescued within 2 weeks. Daisy was at her foster home until she was 3- 4 months old when she and her 3 remaining litter mates were returned to the shelter. We were able to place the 3 other pups about a month ago.
This is a very rural area. The entire county has a population of about 7,000. Our foster “network” consists of 3 and sometimes a 4th. So no, the puppies do not stay in foster homes until adopted. Usually, we can get puppies 12 weeks and under to a puppy rescue. Puppy rescues typically send puppies to the northeast for adoption but the rescues could not take Daisy and her siblings at that time for a variety of reasons. Their main reason was that they were overcrowded also. I don’t know why Daisy has not been adopted. I think she was the prettiest of the 7 puppies. Luck? The right person just didn’t see her? There was 1 family that clearly wanted her and communicated with us over several weeks but in the end they decided they could not handle another dog. I mentioned that she had been in foster care because that indicates she is well socialized and well cared for. She is very social and loves people. I need to explain that a foster will keep a litter until we can get them adopted or rescued unless another litter comes in and the fostered pups are old enough to survive in the shelter which is usually after 2 rounds of parvo/distemper vaccines and at east 3 months old. That is how Daisy wound up back at the shelter. After saying all that, I will point out in her bio that she was in foster care until she was 3-4 months old then returned to the shelter.
The Linden Animal Shelter is not a “no-kill” shelter. When they get overcrowded, dogs are euthanized. They pick the ones that have been there the longest. Daisy has been a “ward of the city” since September (technically since July when she went to a foster home) . This shelter is very good about working with us. There is no set number of days to hold a dog then euthanize if not adopted. Some shelters hold a dog only 5 days (or less). I could ramble on and on but does any of this answer your questions?”
Daisy’s story is like so many others. Overcrowding leads to euthanization of the animals living at shelters the longest without being adopted, rescued, or given more time. And Daisy was clearly out of time. Her death day was set unless someone stepped in to save her. But she was in Tennessee and I was in Maryland. Could an out-of-state adoption be accomplished? And if so, how?
(To be continued…)