BCFS is a foster home based rescue, similar to most of the rescues that operate in our area. BCFS has a central location that the new foster animals initially go for assessment before placement with a foster or forever home. The dogs are generally vetted and screened before they leave. We do our best to fit the dogs to the homes AND the homes to the dogs…. but, sometimes we make mistakes.
Cole is a thirteen year old Cesky terrier whose owner was entering a nursing home due to advancing dementia and Cole needed to find a new home. None of the owner’s family were willing to take Cole, so a caregiver contacted BCFS about surrendering him to our foster program.
Cole came to our barn and got along well with the other dogs. He showed no interest in cats and loved people. After two or three pets he’d roll over for belly rubs. We thought he was a delightful old man.
We thought a foster home with another elderly dog would be a good fit, so Cole was transported to his new foster home where he met Bailey.
Bailey is a senior shih tzu who was adopted by his family from BCFS. Bailey is a grumbly old man who likes his bed, his people and his food – not necessarily in that order.
It wasn’t love at first sight between Cole and Bailey, but it wasn’t world war three. It seemed everyone was happy enough avoiding each other until the tragic event.
The Tragic Event
Bailey’s Dad was having a late night snack and both dogs were watching him eat when the fight broke out.
Bailey was rushed to the emergency vet hospital where his right eye was removed. The emergency vet said that there was damage to his left eye as well and Bailey would likely be blind for life.
The foster home called BCFS and asked us to remove Cole from the residence immediately. They told us the story and said they didn’t want Cole in the house when Bailey returned from the hospital.
A BCFS volunteer drove, first thing in the morning, to retrieve Cole and bring him to the sanctuary in Wainfleet.
We spoke with Bailey’s family expressing our shock, regret and disbelief. BCFS offered to pay Bailey’s initial vet bills and offered any help or support the family needed.
Who’s to Blame?
We’ve always believed in the truth. Accidents happen and people make mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20 and if we could change the situation we would, but we can’t. We’ve all got to live with the outcome – especially Bailey.
This isn’t the first dog injured by a foster dog and people in rescue will understand, but the public isn’t always as kind.
When Bailey’s family asked if they could share their story on social media we asked that they write with compassion, not only for themselves, their family and Bailey; but also for Cole and BCFS.
Cole arrived at the barn in the morning shaking badly. He refused to come out of his crate until the need to urinate became too great. We had to put him on a leash and gently lead him outside to potty.
Cole didn’t eat for 24 hours and was terrified. It wasn’t until a volunteer sat on the floor and called Cole over did his tail wag ever so slightly.
We found Cole had traumatic injuries along his jaw line and under his chin. Puncture wounds where his teeth were abscessed and into the soft tissue of his neck. He is scheduled to have dental surgery where the vet will treat the punctures.
The Ugly Truth
There’s an education point to be made that people need to socialize their dogs and make provisions in the event they are unable to care for their animals.
You can put it in your will and set aside money for their care. You can make arrangements with friends and family to decide where the pet will go or you can contact a rescue and make arrangements ahead of time.
Cole is a rare terrier whose owner loved him, but he didn’t get the socialization he needed to make him good with other dogs. Is thirteen years old too old to learn new tricks?
The Future of BCFS
How does this affect BCFS?
Volunteer burn out is a very real thing and a documented concern among volunteer groups. Especially, when dealing with so many sad tales.
When board members, foster homes and volunteers are making life and death decisions you can imagine the immense pressure. It’s tough to keep a rescue running under such stress and scrutiny; which is why many rescues don’t survive to their two year anniversary.
BCFS is 100% volunteer based and nobody gets compensated for their work. Sometimes this work is too emotionally draining and we lose volunteers.
We go through many highs with successful adoptions and happy animals given fresh lives, but often these wonderful highs get buried under one massive low – loss of life or limb is devastating.
In this instance Bailey has lost his vision, his family must learn to live with the trauma & devastation, BCFS has likely lost a valuable volunteer & foster home and we may lose Cole.
Right now there are no answers, so we will do what we do best:
We cuddle our animals and dream of a world where every animal is loved, cherished and has a forever home. We still hope to save the world one animal at a time, but we realize that saving the world comes with a great price tag.
Sometimes good intentions are simply not enough…