cole and bailey

The Crushing Truth about Animal Rescue

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.

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Cole

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’s Fate

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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7 thoughts on “The Crushing Truth about Animal Rescue”

  1. I am so sorry to hear all of this. Please don’t let it get you wonderful folks down. I am sure that it was not something you could have foreseen.

    I am sorry for both Cole and Bailey and for Bailey’s family. I pray that you will find a home for Cole in the very near future.

    You have taught me something through this as well. I have just purchased a new home from an older couple who are going into a condo and cannot take their dog with them. She apparently has never been socialized with other dogs either. I offered to keep her as this was her home and she is 10 yrs. old.
    I have introduced my little Peter who is roughly the same age to her and they seemed fine for the short period of time that they were together. I am now thinking that I need to bring him around her more before the finally move to be sure of the situation.

    Thank you for sharing this unfortunate story. I pray that all will work out for everyone involved

  2. I dont think this was a situation where blame can be attached. Everyone did their best without malice and because many lives past and present have been saved or made better.

    What you do is invaluable and necessary. Not only are you helping the animals, but you are educating people. Your positive actions even in the face of negativity creates a chain of other positive reactions. The world needs this for all living things.

    Thank you so much for what you do. You were the first rescue that I began following. I am a better person and pet owner because of your efforts.

  3. Amy, I am so sorry for the pain you are feeling…The goodness in you, and your mission is so inspiring. It makes the rest of us feel that we too , can make a difference.
    This is something you could not predict ,never wanted…. and is a terrible lesson…
    The bigger message is in what you do…in the goodness , and love and possibility you create.
    First take care of you…Tell us how to help…but please don’t stop.
    In the yin and yang of life ,you are a light…
    I am so sorry for the family and the pups involved…If there is anything concrete we can help with..Tell us!!!

  4. Thank you for sharing this story, Amy. I think it’s important to remember that dogs, like all animals, are unpredictable. This sad event did not result from any mistake of yours, nor a mistake on the part of the foster family. People involved in rescues just want the best for those in their care.

  5. Sending prayers for Bailey and family, my heart goes out to you . My heart also goes out to Cole and praying that their will be that special home for him.
    This is such a sad situation because all involved work so hard to save those that have no voice to speak for themselves.
    All you can do is you best, all with loving intentions.

  6. I had a rescue go terribly wrong. A blind chocolate lab, history of being chained all of his nine years. Trained by a foster carer who had a lab of her own, and then off to be with me. Within two days he attacked and bit my partner, scared the wits out of me, and the rescue sent a woman to pick him up, with the dog officer on my back to have him quarantined at my house for two weeks. The dog, Romeo, left in the woman’s SUV, jumped over the seat to attack her since she would not listen to us about how the attack was unprovoked. Romeo bit her, the police were called, and he was taken to the hospital and put down as two bites and Massachusetts law goes that way. No one was to blame. Everyone did their best. It hurt us all but what can you do. We all try. Stay with it. I feel for you all.

  7. So sorry to hear about this. Having had dogs for nearly 40 years, I have learned never to judge another’s choices harshly. I’ve heard so many stories like this over the years and suffered through one similar, devastating mistake myself where I lost a dog. You can’t read a dog’s mind and even though you might have the best judgment in the world and an equal amount of experience, you can never be 100% sure. They are dogs and part of them is always a mystery to us. I hope Cole will have another chance.

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