Category Archives: Places

Have You Seen Us?

Rachel3What do you do when it all goes wrong?  How do you get past the despair, the brokenness and fear when you unknowingly delivered innocence into evil?  When you did all the right things, did all the research and yet still were deceived, lies upon lies until no one really knows the truth.  We do know one thing, our animals are all missing.

George2

George

I remember the day we found George, a small older chow mix, matted, hungry and shy, laying in the tall dry grass among the rotting garbage, his friend Remi, a chocolate lab, pacing around him, careful to keep himself between George and danger.  Two more throw aways, left to their fate in this dead-end by the river.  We walked carefully through the trash, knelt down and held a hand out to Remi, speaking softly, assuring him we would not hurt George, and soon we were loading them into crates.  As Leslie drove away with them, I breathed a quiet “thank you” and turned my truck towards home.  Over the next few days, after vetting, bathing and a haircut for George, the boys would bloom and Remi’s quiet dignity and George’s quirky little ways would win us all.  Remi quickly found a good home nearby and a place was found for George, a place where he was welcomed with open arms, with delightful comments about his unique look and fireball spirit.  We were convinced George was in the best of hands and would find his special human that would care for him forever and protect him, just like Remi.

Hope

Hope

Now and again you find a dog with so many problems you feel hopeless.  You run your hands over their dirty abused bodies, you feel the bones and hollows left by hunger, the skin ravaged by infection, but then you cradle their head in your hands, they lick your chin and you see a faint light in tired eyes, a tiny hope that your hands will not hurt them.  Naturally, we called her Hope.  I remember my visits with her, our walks under the massive old oaks in the neighborhood surrounding her boarding home.  Dog trainers would be aghast if they saw our walks because her nose drug us both down the street and often she would run back to me and jump up as if to say, “Do you smell that? Come on! Let’s go see, let’s go see.”, and so we did. Sweet Hope was heartworm positive, but we had faith that with a little time and treatment, there would be a forever someone on the other end of her leash.  There was a foster waiting for her, found by the wonderful place she was going, someone who could oversee her treatment for heartworms and then she could be adopted.  We were happy; we thought her future was living up to her name.

Rachel2

Rachel

Rachel was one of five, all dumped and left for dead, struggling to survive the heat, poisonous spiders, snakes and alligators that live in the swamp all around them.  We made a den for them, complete with dog houses and blankets, until we could catch them. Each day, we would go see them, fill up their bowls, calling to them in vain, hoping just one would get close enough to grab, but they had no trust left for humans.  Entering the den through the deep brush and hanging vines, we could hear their footsteps in the woods, circling the den and wanting contact, but always falling back to follow Ross, their leader, as he lead them away to the other side of the lake and far from us.  Rachel was a black pit bull mix with white on her nose and was one of the first to fall for the fried chicken in the trap, the smell overriding her fear.  Soon Kevin, a friend and expert rescue trapper, had her in his truck.  What a gorgeous dog, what a happy spirit once among the comforts of a bed and regular meals.  We were told she was adopted by the owner of a local winery where she was living her life and being adored by staff and guests alike. In my mind I can see her following someone, padding softly in the warm soft dirt between rows of grapes, I want to believe it, but I know is not true.   A call to the winery has confirmed that they have never heard of Rachel.

Bernadette

Bernadette

Howard

Howard

Further down the river, past the boat ramps and ATV park is another bridge.  Under this bridge you will find a makeshift shelter of old doors, windows and planks where passing transient travelers spend a few days and then move along again down the old highway.  You can also find dogs that have been left to fend as best they can.  We were looking for another dog, one that had disappeared from our regular site, but this morning what we found were two dogs, obviously together and waiting for someone.  The larger female was Bernadette and the small male we called Howard.  Bernadette spent her days waiting by the road, looking off into the distance for the person who had dumped her to come back, while Howard stayed close to the shelter, not usually venturing from under the bridge.  Being small, Howard was easier to catch, but Bernadette proved to be a challenge as she was too afraid to come close.  One morning one of our rescuers decided to make another effort all alone, certainly risky considering the area, but she felt she might be able to connect with Bernadette.  She carefully made her way into the site, and not seeing any strangers, she looked around for Bernadette and found her sitting on the hill leading up to the highway.  For two hours she sat there, talking to Bernadette, coaxing her with soft words and treats.  She told her about the new life waiting for her and that she could see Howard again, promising her that if she would only let her closer she would help her begin a better life.  Finally Bernadette relented enough to be caught up in a blanket and carried to the car and they made their way to the boarding kennel, calm and quiet, sensing she was safe.  I wish we could have kept her that way, I wish we could believe she is living out that promise and I hope she is with Howard wherever they are.

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear

Sugar Bear haunts our thoughts, enrages our minds and breaks our hearts.  I wasn’t there when they found her, discarded under the bridge, in a filthy crate, her eyes matted almost shut, bleeding flea nests covering her body.  In spite of her terrible condition, she was a happy and trusting dog.  Leslie and Megan brought Sugar Bear to me to keep overnight so I could take her to the vet the next morning, so I prepared a bed, filled bowls with clean water and fresh food.  After she was settled, I cleaned her up as best I could without actually bathing her since it was so late.  When I got to her face she lay her head on my legs and patiently let me clean her eyes with a warm wet cloth, trying to wipe away the hardened crust of infection that held her eyes shut without hurting her.  As soon as she could open her eyes a little, she lifted her head to look at me and then stretched up to lick my chin, a blessing from a thrown away dog.  Sugar Bear had a condition where the eye lashes grow the wrong way and that was why she had chronic eye infections, but the surgery was simple although she would look funny with no hair around her eyes for a while.  The surgery was a success and she did look a little comical, but her eyes were healing and she felt great and ready to explore her new pain-free world and find her place in it.  Right now she should be lying at someone’s feet or napping on a kitchen rug in a beam of sunlight, she should be blessing someone’s life.

Sandy2

Sandy

No fosters, way too few volunteers, way too many animals, and no money for long-term boarding, the same story as always, so few safe options.  There are wonderful no-kill groups, many in the Austin and surrounding areas and we checked them all and found a place hidden in the hills of Canyon Lake, a beautiful resort town surrounding a deep cold lake.  This place was different, the staff were knowledgeable and talked about training, rehabilitation and high adoption rates, thus justifying the high program intake fees and they were fully equipped with a vet nearby and welcomed dogs that needed extra attention and care. The kennels were clean and animals had access to the outdoors and the looked clean, healthy and happy. They were listed with every no-kill organization we could find, we goggled for reviews, for any complaints, we grilled the staff, due diligence was done, but we were deceived, many were deceived and the animals paid the price.

Elliott and Noelle at shelter

Elliott and Noelle at the shelter

It began when we stumbled on some information about a burglary at the shelter and the disappearance of the manager and we started asking questions, addressing the Board that supported the shelter, begging, then demanding information.  There were four of our animals still there and we made arrangements to pull them immediately, in spite of threats to charge outrageous fees for “boarding” them.  We were forced to pay to adopt back our dogs, the great irony being the thousands of dollars that we had previously paid to place our dogs in an elite and progressive no-kill program to ensure their safety and adoption.

Garfield

Garfield

Twelve animals, all gone without a trace, all the records destroyed.  We have been told there is a good possibility they are all dead, that they were euthanized soon after intake and the elaborate “Happy Tails” stories were all lies. So much does not add up and we are not sure what is true, so we are searching for the animals, for anyone that might have adopted a dog matching their description.  Hundreds of flyers have been mailed and posted and we will keep searching. We know for sure that Sugar Bear is dead.  She was killed for being itchy, for scratching the hair growing back in around her eyes and other parts of her body, condemned by greed, killed by monsters.

A criminal  investigation is underway and a new Board of Directors and an entire community has stepped up and nothing is the same.  A new group of leaders are trying to make it right, trying to help us find the truth, and are committed to convicting these criminals, and the light is creeping back in, but it’s too late for so many.  Too late for the freezer full of dead animals found on the premises.  Too late for Noelle, Elliott, Sandy, Rachel, Tigger, Garfield, Gus-Gus, Bernie, Howard, George, Sugar Bear, Brownie, and Hope.

Elliott

Elliott

So what do you do when it all goes wrong?  How do you get back to that place where you feel you are moving forward, making strides in defeating the cruelty and apathy everywhere you look?  How do you take another step when your limbs feel tied by ropes of lies and failure?  You rage, you cry and beat your fists against the ground and then you get up.  You don’t keep quiet, you don’t pretend it didn’t happen, you make it matter.  You speak it out loud and yell it into every dark corner and space until you don’t have to anymore, until you are hoarse and everyone knows and things change.  Our group is different now; we trust others less and cling tightly to the four dogs we were able to retrieve from Canyon Lake when we learned of the deception. We are committed to placing them into forever homes and no where else.  We remain a little broken and we will limp for a good long while.  I don’t know what the future holds for us, how we will evolve or in what direction after this heartbreak, but we will figure it out, we will find our way, so in faith I will take a page from Hope’s book and say, “Let’s go see, Let’s go see.”

Tigger

Tigger

Gus Gus

Gus Gus

Noelle

Noelle

Brownie

Brownie

https://www.facebook.com/lostrescueanimalsofcanyonlakeanimalsheltersociety

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If you are interested in applying to foster or adopt, please visit our web page at http://crosbypuppymassacre.wordpress.com/

All photos are the property of the Animal Safety League of Northeast Harris County.

©2013 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved


Even Now

56Even now, as I travel the highway that carries me over the river, over the turnaround, along the creeks and bogs lining the road, I aways look.   Just past the bridge through the clearing you can see it, the place where the gravel road wraps around the lake, where he always lay.  He was one of five dogs dumped at the same time, dumped to die at the hand of nature, fate or cruelty. He was an odd-looking dog, more like a pit bull than a boxer, but there was something else in the mix as well and we called him Ross.  Of all the dogs, he had the most presence and he seemed to be the leader, the dog the other ones followed in spite of an injury to his leg.  If he came to eat, they all came to eat and when he was done they all left together.  Back when it all began, when we were wringing our hands about what to do with five dumped dogs as funds were low and fosters impossible to find, so we came up with a plan, a plan that would allow us to save them all.  We set up a den for them in the dense woods, with shelter, food and clean water and checked on them each day, hoping to draw them closer and gain their trust so we could take them to a better life.

We came to know the dogs well, each with their individual personalities, but they would never get close enough to touch or pick up and load in the truck and I believe this was because they took their cues from Ross, the alpha dog.   Across the lake we would see them, sitting together in the morning sun or under a small tree by the water and as we entered the den we would hear them in the woods around us when we came to feed.  We contacted a kind-hearted trapper named Kevin who has helped so many animals and with his help slowly we got them one by one.  All that is but Ross, who until the end managed to elude the traps, who from a distance watched us load up his last friend and then ran back up the road all alone.  Ross was smart and not easily fooled by the smells of fried chicken or brisket in the trap, but our trapper was not giving up.  He could now turn his full attention to Ross and took it on as a mission and for weeks he would set the trap out before the earliest light each morning and after dusk each evening, but still Ross would not be trapped.

We were left with the realization that Ross would have to be darted with a tranquilizer to save his life, he would simply go to sleep and wake up 5safely in our hands at the vet before heading to boarding, we had it all planned and we were ready, but so was Ross.  Despite several tries, Ross would not cooperate, he stayed hidden or became unpredictable in his whereabouts and you can’t catch what you can’t find.  We were still seeing Ross, he just knew when to stay hidden and I believe he could smell the presence of someone new.  We fell back to trapping again and Kevin tried every trick he knew, even invented a few new methods, but still no Ross.  We would see him, usually at a distance and although he was eating the food we put out, he would not use the shelter and we could see him deteriorating from the stress of being alone and once again we were wringing our hands.  Often he would run up and down towards us along the road, wanting to come near, wanting to be caught, but unable to lay down his fear to let us help him, but still we came and still we tried.

By this time, Ross had been out there several months, we were anxious, afraid for him out there alone.  Although he was hidden away on private land, the dumping ground was just outside the area and the dangers there were innumerable and our fears for him grew.  One day we realized he had not been seen in several days so we met at the site, fanned out through the woods around the den, and walked and drove the dusty road around the lake.  We carried binoculars in one hand, smelly delicious food in the other and left it at various spots along the way, hoping to draw our boy out into the open.  Soon it had been weeks since we last saw him and the weeks turned to months, other dogs were dumped and we would rescue them, and we kept looking for him, always hoping that maybe he was still out there somewhere and that new activity would draw him back, but we never saw him again.

I like to believe he left to wander and found the houses on the other side of the river, that someone took him in and that as I IMG_0658write this he knows gentle hands and a soft bed somewhere.  I like to think he’s with a pack again, leading them around a backyard until he’s called in for the night with a treat and pat on the head.  That’s what my heart wants to believe, but my mind knows better.  It knows that in spite of our efforts, somewhere out in those woods he laid down a last time, either sick or hurt, tired of being alone, not starved or beaten, but tired and broken by his short and sad life, betrayed by those who dumped him, unreachable by those who would have helped him.   I will keep looking through that clearing as I go by, hoping to see a spot of white lying in the dust of the dirt road so I can turn my truck around and drive back to that bitter place.   I will walk to the fork of the rutted road and raise my hands to shield the sunlight and I will see him, and as he gets to his feet he will turn to look at me, willing me to understand that he’s at peace now, and in a cloud of dust he will be gone again, back to the woods and I will let him go forever.

©2011-2012 itsa5doglife  All Rights Reserved

If you would like to help the small group that is saving the lives of dumped animals in Crosby, Texas, please visit http://crosbypuppymassacre.wordpress.com/


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