X-rays revealed a horrible act of cruelty. 21 birdshots filled Tucker’s chest region. “This dog was used for target practice”, commented our vet’s assistant, “and who knows how many shots are in the remainder of his body.”
Tucker came to Our Pal’s Place (O.P.P.) from Murray County Animal Control. He was found at an abandoned home with no food or water. O.P.P. was alerted that he was on the kill list at the county shelter and was able to get him out. Little did we know what was in store for us …. again.
Tucker along with his predecessors, Brinks and Lucy, would test our resolve and commitment to being a true no-kill organization. We brought Brinks, Lucy and Tucker into O.P.P. believing they were “adoptable” dogs. Yet, through their own unique situations, they each would prove to us that they were not dogs who were able to live in a normal home environment.
Should the dogs die because they don’t fit the mold of “adoptable”?
Should the dogs die even though their vet checkups conclude they are in good health?
Should the dogs die when we have watched them be happy with the people they trust?
Many answered the questions, “yes”. Our question back was “Is killing them in the best interest of the dogs or the easiest solution for humans?”
O.P.P. put together a search committee to find and interview no-kill sanctuaries. We came across a sanctuary in Washington State whose motto is, “We save dogs you’d rather see dead.” This certainly got our attention! Many emails and phone calls later with sanctuary owner, Steve Markwell, we decided that Olympic Sanctuary best mirrored our values and treatment of the animals. Here is the philosophy of Olympic Sanctuary…
"An animal sanctuary is a permanent home for animals that would otherwise face certain death. Animal sanctuaries do not buy, sell, trade or breed animals, and they are closed to the public. The physical and psychological needs of the animals are held paramount, and no expense is spared in their care.
We are proponents of the no-kill movement in animal sheltering, but we go a step farther than the traditional no-kill philosophy in that we believe that no companion animal should be killed for any reason other than in a legitimate act of euthanasia for the relief of an untreatable, unmanageable, and unbearable medical condition. No behavior issue should ever warrant the killing of a dog."
In 2008, Steve agreed for our Brinks and Lucy to live the rest of their lives at Olympic Sanctuary. O.P.P. representative, Brad Barnett, escorted Brinks and Lucy on their trip to Washington state to check-out the living arrangements, ensure a high quality of life for our dogs, and personally meet Steve. Here is what Brad experienced:
"Not only did I have the privilege of delivering Brinks and Lucy to their new home in Washington, but I also had the opportunity to check out the Olympic Animal Sanctuary first hand. I was impressed with the arrangement of "play groups" that the resident dogs were placed into. To see that many dogs running, playing and swimming was quite the sight. Amazingly, they all seemed to get along, but if one did not behave, Steve would immediately address the issue by separating that dog or by rearranging the groups. All the dogs were also fed an excellent diet of raw meat and occasional fruits and vegetables. From pictures Steve has shared with us, Brinks obviously is thriving on this diet. In addition to giving these dogs a secure home, Steve gives their well being and health the highest priority. If a dog ever experiences any health issues, Steve spares no expense when providing vet care to these animals. The sanctuary might not be a traditional home, but a loving and caring one it certainly is. I continue to have the highest respect and confidence in Steve and his organization."
Now, 3 years later, we find ourselves once again faced with making the decision of the fate of one of our dogs. Tucker has survived many obstacles: being used for target practice, abandonment with no food and water, the kill list at the county shelter and heartworms. He is a trooper and as his friend Jennifer Boston., states, “Considering what this soul has been through, Tucker has an amazing spirit. He is always happy to see people and just wants to be loved. In fact, if you stop petting him, he politely asks you to continue! He likes to play ball as well. If humans could learn to forgive as easily as Tucker, this would be a better world! He seems to hold no grudges. It always brightens my day to see his smiling face!!!”
Yet, Tucker’s past has resulted in behavioral issues and severely biting a human. We cannot place him into a home. His only hope for survival now is Olympic Sanctuary, but Steve must first finish new construction at the sanctuary to create room for Tucker and others on Steve’s wait list. O.P.P. would like to help Steve raise the $6,000 needed to create more room at his sanctuary to help dogs who would otherwise be killed.
So, in the case of Brinks, Lucy and Tucker, we opted to hold tight to our no-kill value, and while we cannot provide the perfect