One family member says the "found" photo has changed their lives forever. The family's LOST ad read:
Ranger is a 5 year old sweet, gentle, long haired Retriever/Aussie Shep mix. He's got brown eyes and mostly black hair with a patch of white on his chest and bits of white between his toes. He had a blue collar with a tag for his Vet on it out of Bacliff, TX. The rabies code is 4 digits. Ranger weighs about 65 pounds. We really miss him and want him to come home.
A third wave, twelve feet high, parted them in the dark as the young man had to let go and swim for his life. He was hit by debris, by alligators, by the dead. Swimming for his life, he endured the horror of being hit by bodies of the drowned.
Escaping the surge, he reached safety, but alone. He found a fire truck whose crew took him to shelter.
"With each question, I felt they were trying harder and harder NOT to reunite him with his family. The final straw was telling me that he was about to be put up for adoption this week if he passed the personality test."
She begged them; "Please, as a personal favor, please hold the dog until he can be picked up."
What is it about a disaster that brings out the best and the worst? Why do some people, confronted with a stranger who has nothing, open their homes? And why do other people look down from a position of power and make them plead?
Even if you have no empathy with people, how can professionals, who choose to work with animals, care so little about them?
Dogs grieve. Lost dogs mourn their lost families. (If you do not know this from your own experience, see the literature of Jack London or Charles Dickens.)
Why would the SPCA be so eager to adopt out an animal the family is coming to claim?
And if Ranger goes home, doesn't it mean another dog will get lucky and be adopted? And then somewhere down the line, there will be shelter space for a dog that would otherwise be put to sleep?
Shouldn't that be what an organization called the "Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals" is all about?
Here is why. And it is not just the Houston SPCA. The ten days were up. No exceptions.
Ten days after rescue, all rescued animals were available for adoption. (Some desirable little dogs didn't even last ten days, more on that in a future blog.)
The focus of the rescue effort was to save animals to re-home them. It is easier and cheaper to adopt out animals than to hold them and reunite them.
Ranger's ten days were up and that's why the SPCA could say Ranger was not their dog. They meant, he is no longer your dog.
But against all odds, there was a happy ending. Surviving a hurricane makes you strong and the family went to the SPCA to get their dog and would not be denied.
The home he stayed to board up has vanished.
The family has to start over. But now, thanks to Ranger's improbable return, they are not starting over from scratch.
Hope is talked about a lot these days and in a conventional sense. Red or blue, you can have your own ideal of Hope. Neither party holds the copyright. But for this family, Hope is a sweet, gentle, long haired Retriever/Aussie Shep mix.