On February 2, 2016, my husband and I went to a meet and greet with Jaime, the founder and owner of Pawlicious Poochie Pet Rescue in St. Petersburg, Florida. There, we met Leah. We fell in love instantly and became the proud owners of Leah Johnson. The only history we have about Leah is that she had been found as a stray roaming the streets of Miami, and was taken to the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter. Luckily, Jaime picked her up at the shelter as a rescue and posted her on her Facebook site. When we saw little Leah, there was no question in our minds that we had to meet her.
The vet at the shelter estimated Leah’s age to be between seven and ten years old. She was barely four pounds, and had little hair due to a severe skin infection which was most likely secondary to a flea infestation. Leah had bilateral ear infections, overgrown nails, and a mouthful of infected teeth. Leah was heart worm negative and was not spayed. The vet at the shelter gave her a rabies injection, and an antibiotic. Leah had been chipped, but was not registered.
My husband and I were so excited to take her home with us. We had offered to donate Leah’s vet care to Jaime’s rescue, so we took Leah to our own vet for the required veterinarian care. Leah was given a thorough check up, further immunizations, and had surgery to remove most of her teeth and was spayed at the same time. We later picked Leah up from the vet with a bagful of oral and topical medication.
Leah settled in nicely with our three adult cats. We introduced them slowly and gave them the time they needed. Little did we know just how quickly a chihuahua could take over a home. In no time at all, Leah “owned” all of it and all of us. Every blanket, every pet bed, every chair, as well as our laps, were her’s only. We had to laugh at how quickly this little four pound dog could become the queen of our home. We ultimately had to set more boundaries with Leah to teach her to “share” with the cats. It took a little doing, but we all settled in over time and are now a happy family.
I often find myself wondering what Leah’s life was like before she had us. Did she have a family? Did she have pups? Was she once loved? Was she once part of a puppy mill? One of the things we do know, is that Leah is one of thousands of shelter dogs a year abandoned on the streets without a name and without a family. Many are euthanized, and some, like Leah, are rescued and adopted out. We are certainly blessed to have this little one in our lives. Her love is immeasurable. I read this book, and it’s incredible just how intense rescues are, to the dog, and to us.
There are shelters located in all our cities filled with abandoned or stray pets. The lucky ones are adopted out to good homes or rescues pull pets for adoption or fostering. The Best Friends Animal Society estimates that at least 5,500 animals are euthanized in shelters across America every single day. This is such a tragic loss and something we as Americans should be invested in.
How can we help to decrease the amount of unwanted dogs and cats who end up on the streets or are abandoned in shelters?
- spay or neuter your pet
- adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue
- microchip your pet and keep the register up to date on all your contact information
- educate your children, family members, and friends on the importance of spaying and neutering all pets
- don’t purchase from a breeder
- keep your pet for life
- fight against puppy mills
- donate to spay and neuter programs
- report stray pets
- support the shelters
Our pets deserve so much love, attention, and responsible pet ownership. They give us so much. Can we be sure that we are really the ones being rescued?