"Hi! How old is Penny? We are beagle lovers on Long Island, love her pic."
I wrote back thanking her for writing and telling her a bit more about Penny and attached the application. I then got the following response - this is the entire email verbatim:
"that is quite a bit of money..thought you were into rescue?"
NOW, I realize brevity is the soul of... something, but really? Seriously?
You know what - I have had people write back that they can't afford the fee - fine - I get it - not sure how they will afford the first $250 vet visit, but whatever. As long as they don't make snotty comments, that's fine, forget about it and move on. But this really got me going - again - I AM on my last frayed nerve here. So this is what I wrote back - not brief...
Yes, I am into rescue - which is a major strain on both my wallet and my sanity. After the adoption fee, I generally lose an average of $200 per dog. Please remember that I am one person, not an institution. I do ALL the work myself - which has turned into a full time unpaid job. I actually haven't had time to even look for work since the management of all the rescue related things takes all day and night every day. I try to blog about it and find I don't even have time to sit down and blog because of one crisis after another. Far from getting paid for this full time work, I am PAYING to do it. Here is a breakdown of the average expenses to rescue a healthy, socialized and adoptable dog (which many are not - more on that later). These costs are average PER DOG:
Anyway: Penny tested very weak positive for heartworm. I have had several dogs this summer that tested light positive. Because heartworm is so prevalent down there, if it is light positive they often do 'slow kill' which is just keeping the dog on heartguard (as you would for any dog) and giving the dog antibiotics and within a year or so the adult worms die and the heartguard prevents the babies from growing. While I think this is a fine way to treat a heartworm positive dog - and MUCH cheaper, I also know that people up here don't really understand heartworm and the vets will not do slow kill. The vets up here won't even allow you to buy heartguard without a negative test result. The vets up here also charge 600-800 to treat heartworm so it is very important to make sure the dogs are negative before they travel because once they are up here the adopters can get very screwed by heartworm positive tests. I am very diligent about this because before I started rescuing I heard horror stories of people adopting from the south straight from the shelter and getting socked with up to 900 vet bills for heartworm treatments because the vets up here freak out and see it as a chance to charge a lot of money.
SO - with Penny, like the other dogs, I have had to pay for the 'fast kill' which takes a month and consists of several shots. I get a better deal down there with the rescue vet I use and it costs $150 (for a beagle, larger dogs cost more because they charge by weight). ALSO this means that the dog being treated will have to board an additional month because they have to wait until they can get their last shot before transport. I am not often blessed with foster homes that will keep the dog for free - so guess what - that means another $8/ night in boarding - for an ADDITIONAL MONTH. = 240. I was very lucky to have a foster for Penny who didn't charge for boarding and this helped A LOT, but this is the only time this has happened.
Just an example of the kind of issues I have to deal with - I had a beagle who was boarded for 5-6 weeks. I had called the vet no less than 4 times when she was being spayed to make sure they did the heartworm test. They forgot. The woman who was taking care of her lived 45 min away and worked full time and didn't have time to get her back for the test. I had a home for her ready to go and was getting her health certificate and remembered she had never had her heartworm test. Well, of course she came out weak positive. SO - now she had to get another spot in boarding for another month and of course the cost of treatment itself is $150. So, now I am looking at an additional $390 just because the vet is so busy down there with SO many rescue dogs they made a simple mistake and forgot to heartworm test her. Had they just tested her when she was first in for the spay, I could have transported her when I had planned to because she was already down there for 6 weeks and could have been undergoing treatment and been done and ready to go to her new home. Instead her adopters had to wait another month and of course *I* am footing the bill - not the adopters. So that was $390 on TOP of the OVER $400 I had already spent on her between basic vetting, boarding and transport.
Why do I do it? Because if not for me every single one of the dogs that I have rescued would be dead in a landfill. That is the bottom line. Penny was pulled by a friend who lives in SC and has been tirelessly working to save the dogs in rural shelters. Penny came from Laurens, SC where the animal control officer literally said to my friend 'we are a kill shelter not a save shelter' and they do NOTHING to try to get the dogs out or adopted. I have seen pictures of dogs that I desperately wanted to save but didn't have the money, space or ability to do it myself and the next day they were killed. Their faces haunt me and I cry often about the ones I have tried to help but didn't have the resources to do it.
If you are worried about money - the best deal around is to go to NYCACC (the city pound) and adopt from them. They desperately need to adopt dogs out and often get beagles. They also have CITY MONEY to help cover their costs - so they are able to get the dogs spayed/neutered and get them their shots cheaply so they can then charge a smaller adoption fee. I adopted by beagle from the Harlem ACC 5 years ago and she is a wonderful dog. You can also go to North Shore Animal League which is a much larger organization (again, I am ONE person), and they raise a ton of money and have many people working and volunteering for them - so again, they are able to charge a lower fee.
Hopefully now that you are aware of all that goes into rescue - all the work and money for each single dog - you can spread the word to your friends and family and support small rescues.