This is Charlie
Charlie has had something of a vagabond lifestyle. I don’t know how it started for him but, about a year ago, someone rescued him from an Orlando pound and put him on Craigslist in a bid to find a home for him. A friend of mine adopted him but when he moved to a dog-free dormitory in August, Charlie was once again in need of somewhere to live.
I met the dog – a Pitador – about six months earlier when visiting Orlando and fell in love with him. Sure, most dogs are friendly (ok, not this one) but there was a charming effervescence about Charlie. When I heard he was once again in need, I felt compelled to help him find a home.
Since my friend had already moved, I arranged to put the dog in boarding in a clinic in Casselberry, Florida, while I investigated possible rescues.
It was difficult working remotely from Illinois, but I reached out to three places in the Orlando area. The first one was Orlando Bully Rescue, who say they will respond to an email within 72 hours. But they didn’t – no reply at all. The second one was Sniffing Snouts who provided a number that went to voicemail. My voicemail went unanswered. The third place I approached was Ruff World Animal Rescue. I sent an email and a photo and underlined how critical the situation had become for this dog. But, once again, my email was not responded to.
Charlie was running out of time. As a pitbull mix, and a black one at that, the numbers weren’t in his favour. If he went to a pound then eternal rest was more likely than him finding a home. Read this for some insight. Here’s a quote about what really happens in shelters:
“If your dog is big, black or any of the “bully” breeds (pit bull, rottweiler, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.”
Sadly, that was Charlie’s future.
The boarding kennel – Animal Clinic of Casselberry – were supportive and allowed Charlie to stay for two weeks but said there was a limit on how long they could keep him. They were all very fond of him, describing him as sweet and friendly. This made things all the more difficult for me.
So given the lack of response from rescues, I agonized over what to do.
At the eleventh hour, I made my decision – I booked one-way flights and a rental car and headed down to Orlando on Friday 29th August to extract the target (Charlie) from enemy territory (euthanasia).
When we arrived at the clinic in Casselberry, Charlie was happy to see us, blissfully unaware that we were his guardian angels, or whatever you’d like to call it. Having got reacquainted, we headed off to our hotel before embarking on our 1200 mile journey home the next day.
Why did we have to drive? Airlines have strict rules about having what many term as “bully” dogs in cargo. A dog like Charlie requires a specially-reinforced $500-600 crate in order to get him on the plane. So we had no choice but to drive cross-country with him. Luckily he was a great passenger, comfortable in most positions in the car including, oddly, straddling the console between the front seats with his paws and head while standing in the back and resting his ass against the back seat. For hours.
So after almost 24 hours in the car, we arrived back in Illinois. I felt kind of zoned out, not just because of the tiredness but also in a “what just happened?” kind of way.
And you’d think that would be enough activity for one day but, having not thought far enough ahead, we discovered that there was nowhere really appropriate for Charlie to sleep on his first night in Illinois. So we put him in the bathroom, determined to put up with his whining for 10 or 15 minutes until such time that he got tired and fell asleep.
Within a few minutes I heard a sloshing sound, followed by what sounded like the toilet seat slamming down. It seems Charlie was both curious and thirsty.
First thought was “did I flush?” Second thought was, “this can’t continue”.
To keep the peace, I spent what was left of that night (admittedly, not long) sleeping on the bathroom floor with him. When I lay down on his blanket, the toilet drinking and the whining stopped. Charlie just seemed so content to be where he was. I’d not slept on a bathroom floor since I was about 24 and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mine.
Help! Rescue me! And other songs…
I didn’t particularly want a dog. I just didn’t want Charlie to be put to sleep. I didn’t think it was fair.
It was disappointing that the rescues didn’t even respond with a PFO when I reached out to them. I understand they are busy, perhaps inundated. But they are the ones with the knowledge and experience. If they can’t help directly, perhaps they can share information that would have given Charlie a second chance that he, at that point, did not have.
If I add up the cost of flights, rental car, petrol, hotel, kennel boarding and services and, since then, the cost of a cage, food, neutering, skin treatment, flea tablet, well, it’s a lot of money. And it’s money that I would have donated a large portion of, had a rescue communicated with me and offered help.
Maybe I’m just a foster home for Charlie right now, but it has bought him time that he didn’t have in Orlando. The Humane Society estimate that about 2.7 million animals are put down every year in the US. Now pets aren’t for everyone but it’s kind of tragic that these creatures who will generally give you unconditional love are put through this. Woof.