No Judgement Here

Animal rescue is stressful.  It’s full of long days, with joy sprinkled in among the heartbreak.  Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t save that precious life.  Sometimes you can, but your Facebook feed is full of comments about how everyone else would do it differently.  Or with judgment on the humans that caused the misery to begin with.

Yesterday, a family surrendered a 5 year old dog because he was “sick”.  They downplayed the illness, so the shelter thought that it was something simple, like worms perhaps.  The family couldn’t afford medical care for Sheba, so they brought her to The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes.

It was soon apparent that Sheba was much more seriously ill.  Large blood clots were coming out of her rear, and she was vomiting.  And the smell was horrendous.

The Marshmallow Foundation is in a rural area, where the closest after hours emergency hospital is in Fargo.  But emergency services are very expensive, and the shelter is barely hanging on with donations as it is.  Luckily, a group of dedicated folks got a local Vet to see Sheba after hours, and she’s being treated for rat poison and heartworm.

When the shelter manager asked the rescue community for help and advice, some responses were helpful.  Some were not.  All sorts of judgement creeped into the comments; everything from what Vet she should be taken to, to “you know she’s dying, right?”.

And of course, it’s hard not to judge the family that surrendered her.  It’s very hard.  But in the moment, Sheba needed immediate care, so my hero, the shelter manager, gently reminded someone on Facebook that we needed to focus on what we could do rather than judging the humans.

This morning I read a post about dogs and puppies frozen to the ground in the Turtle Mountain reservation; the rescue folks there, instead of getting badly needed help, got all sorts of judgement.  I thought it worthwhile to quote some passages here.

“This is not a reservation problem. This is not a native problem. This is a geographical economic problem. We are the second poorest county in the state and have the highest jobless rate. It’s hard for people to find work when there are not enough jobs. Our nearest big city is 2 hours away. When affordable vet care isn’t available, how do people get their dogs spayed or neutered? When they don’t get spayed or neutered, they breed, and continue to do so.”

“For those that choose to criticize or complain, that is your right. All I ask is that before you do, please look in the mirror and ask what you have done to help the problem.”

So our constant plea for donations and volunteers is because we don’t have the same resources as larger communities.  Please withhold your judgement.  The job is hard enough.  “There but for the grace of God” is a phrase I repeat to myself often.

And despite the lack of resources, Sheba was not left to die.  Sheba was not euthanized because the shelter couldn’t afford to treat her.  The shelter manager didn’t go home after 8 hours and assume someone else was taking care of it. That is the beauty of a small rural community.  People band together to help.

For updates on Sheba and more ways you can help, like and follow us on Facebook or go to the website to donate or see the adorable dogs and cats ready for adoption.  Our next fundraiser, Hairball,  is at Zorbaz in DL on April 2nd 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm if you want to have some fun while donating to a good cause.  If you can’t make Hairball, dress up in your best Bonnets and Bowties and come watch the Kentucky Derby at The Speak Easy in DL.