Each Tuesday, TAILS is asking for your stories on your adopted pets. We will then feature the chosen story on our website. This week’s featured adoption story is about the adoption of a scared, emaciated shelter pup named Ruby and comes to us from her adopted parents, Brian and Claire Bokor of Shelter Exchange:
I received an email on Wednesday 25th May from a member of an animal rescue group in North Carolina. The message read ‘URGENT’ and detailed 9 black Labrador puppies that had been surrendered by their owner and were due to be euthanized on Friday 27th. Sadly this is very common nowadays, people tire of their animals, or the responsibility that comes with owning pets, and they dump them off at a shelter, never knowing what the fate of their animal will be. Many people are unaware of this fact; almost all pets that are surrendered by their owners are the first to be euthanized if space is unavailable at shelters.
I receive many emails each week of animals that need help, and believe me when I say this, it is an awful feeling when you have the knowledge of an animal in need, but you know you do not have the resources to help them all. However, there was something about these puppies that tore into my heart, the pictures of their helpless faces wouldn’t leave my thoughts.
My non-profit organization Shelter Exchange is not an actual rescue facility; I guess the name might be a little misleading, but we actually help shelters and rescue group work together to save animals that are at risk of being euthanized, and we do this by providing the information through a free web based software application. So my set up isn’t any different to everyone else, I do not have kennels, or land, however I was determined to help these puppies!
That night I couldn’t sleep; I kept thinking about how these tiny scared puppies had been given the worst possible start to life. I thought about how they would be laying on a cold concrete floor day and night, how they would have to relieve themselves in the same space they slept, and I also had this awful feeling no one was going to step up and help these babies.
The next day I made a few calls and sent emails out in hopes that a rescue group could help. I hit a brick wall, and time was running out quickly, it was a holiday weekend after all, which meant most people were out of town. I received an email the next day from another rescuer, who confirmed she was able to take 3 of the female pups, and my heart lifted at the thought that some of these pups would be given a chance to live. The same lady had spoken with the shelter to extend their time and the shelter agreed to give all the puppies until the following Tuesday, after the holiday weekend.
I frantically emailed and called rescue groups from all across North Carolina and finally I received the most wonderful note from Judy Sims at The Humane Society of Cabarrus and Concord County. The email read ‘Where are you located? I can maybe take one of the puppies.’ My heart lifted again, 1 more life saved I thought to myself, but what would become of the other 4 babies? Judy called me about 30 minutes later to discuss the puppy’s condition. After speaking with Judy on the phone for 10 minutes she did the unimaginable, she agreed to take all 5 of the puppies; she couldn’t bear to leave any of them behind either. I was so ecstatic and so grateful that the entire situation had been turned around in a matter of minutes, and to this day I still do not know if Judy could hear the true desperation in my voice or it was simply the fact that this lady is truly an amazing person, but she had just made a miracle happen for 5 innocent lives, and for that, I will never forget her kindness.
After borrowing 2 large crates and a SUV from my parents, my husband Brian and I set off early Tuesday morning to Wilson County shelter. We were scheduled to drive from Raleigh to Wilson County, then double back and drive the 5 puppies onto Concord, NC. The entire round trip would be 8 hours.
We arrived at the Wilson County shelter and started the process of transferring the puppies from the kennels to a holding room so we could put collars on them and transport them safely.
This was the moment we first laid eyes on Ruby. All of the puppies were happy and bouncy, they were well fed and each one greeted us with wiggly butts and kisses, all except for one of the puppies, Ruby. She lay buried in the corner of the concrete kennel with her head facing into the corner, trembling with fear. Her ribs were showing, her hipbones protruding, she was the runt of the litter and our hearts broke watching her feeble body try to bury even further into the corner. She was the first puppy we pulled out of the kennel; my husband took one look at her and said to me ‘We have to take her with us now’ and so we did.
One by one we scooped the puppies up from the kennel and put them into the holding room. One of the most touching moments we witnessed during our rescue happened when we were moving the puppies. Ruby was so petrified she had once again buried her head into the corner of the holding room, trying to hide from the world. She was so emaciated she couldn’t even hold up her trembling body, so lying down was the only option for her. As we carried through the other puppies one of her brothers walked over to the corner where Ruby was hiding out and laid his entire body over her, to protect and comfort her. It is such a natural instinct for puppies to lie on top of each other, to comfort and support their siblings, but it was amazingly touching for the human eye. I later named the male pup Billy as it means Protector. We decided that Billy and Ruby would be crate buddies on their journey, and the other 3 pups went into the 2nd larger crate. We set off for Concord and we arrived 3 hours later. Each puppy was met with fresh water, bowls of food and a safe place where their lives were no longer at risk. Mike and Judy Sims are the wonderful people that agreed to take the 5 puppies in and to this day I am so grateful to them for giving these babies a second chance.
Ruby was put into the new kennel run with her siblings and once again retreated to the corner, shaking all over with her head down. She didn’t attempt to eat, drink or relieve her self, too scared to do anything. We even tried to move her into a separate kennel to see if she would eat in a quieter place. She took a few bites of soft food from Brian’s hand, but quickly went back to the corner. Brian and I looked at each other and without even saying anything we knew she would be coming home with us. We scooped her up and thanked Judy and Mike from the bottom of our hearts and set off for our trip back to Raleigh. I remember saying to Brian through tears of joy, “I cannot wait to see her wag her tail for the first time.”
We arrived back at my parent’s house that evening to return their car and to pick up our dog Abbey who had been hanging at the grandparents for the day.
I took Ruby from the crate and let her walk around on the grass in my parent’s front yard, hoping she might finally relieve herself for the first time that day. I stood with her patiently waiting, hoping she might feel a little better now she was in a calmer, quieter environment. She lay in the grass still petrified and trembling but after a few minutes she finally lifted her tiny body up and was able to pee. I will never forget this moment for this rest of my life as she lifted her tiny head and looked straight towards me and suddenly her tiny, thin tail started wagging back and forth. Tears rolled down my cheeks, she must have known everything was going to be ok.
Ruby was 4 months old when we picked her up and she weighed a tiny 17lbs. She is now flourishing with her big sister Abbey, who has taken on the role of ‘mom’ and keeps Ruby in check.
I spoke with Judy & Mike Sims over the next few days to check how the other 4 puppies were doing. Judy told me that all of the pups had been vetted, spayed and neutered, and I was thrilled to hear that 2 weeks later they all had been adopted. I couldn’t believe how well the entire situation had worked out, all five lives saved and they all found forever homes.
This experience totally changed my life. It made me realize that I could make a difference and change the world for the better. It may have been just a small change, but it is a positive change, and it saved 5 puppies, and I am very proud of that.
It also made me very grateful for the people in my life that helped me along the way. I’m sure my friends and family think I am a little mad sometimes but they never tell me that, they encourage me and support me, because that is what people do when they love and care about you.
Unfortunately too many animals do not have anyone to love and care about them, and I have the opportunity to make a huge difference to their lives with my work at Shelter Exchange. So that is what I will do, until there are no more animals to be saved.
TAILS commends Claire and Shelter Exchange for giving animals like Ruby and her siblings a loving future.