Tails: A Dog’s Escape from Alcatraz (AKA: City Pound)

It was a crazy day yesterday.  The dog flu in Chicago has reached epidemic proportions and the city shelter, CACC, is struggling to move dogs out.  A rescue I volunteer for, NorthStar Shih Tzu Rescue, based in Minnesota, is always willing to lend a helping hand, but with a 14 day quarantine, and no Illinois foster homes, there wasn’t much we could do.

So, I posted to FB looking for foster homes and within minutes, my step-daughter wanted to do it!  Excited, I contacted Tina and, again, within minutes, there was a dog named Pops, a Shih Tzu mix of sorts, who needed a way out.  Juliette sent us his picture and we were all thrilled to know we could actually rescue him.

It sounds so beautiful and easy, but the logistics get so crazy.  I wanted to share the rest of the story today, so that people understand what all is involved in helping a dog escape the city pound.  I don’t think the average adopter knows what it takes to get a dog from point A to point B.  When you see Fido on petfinder in a breed rescue, unless he was an owner relinquish, there was a lot of effort by a lot of people to get him there.

Minutes after we got Pops’ picture, we learned that he tested positive for the virus on April 24th.  It made us cautious, but we weren’t giving up.  I called my vet to see when they could take Pops, only to learn that there was NO WAY they were taking a virus positive dog in our county.  He was adamant that we leave Pops in quarantine.

Sure, clinically, that made sense.  But, as a rescue person, your heart only sees an innocent dog with a death sentence.  So, I called Tina and Lindsey and advised them of the vet’s concerns.  We grew hesitant.  Wanting to save Pops, but not wanting to hurt the greater good.  Texts, FB messages, calls, took place over the next few hours.  What vet would take him?  Was it the right thing to do?

Lindsey didn’t  have any dogs and neither did any of her neighbors.  Getting Pops to her home made sense.  He could get out of the shelter and be quarantined safely in her home.  So, more phone calls, texts and messages to organize the transport.

Let’s step back for a moment and give credit to the backstory.  In order for us to even know about Pops, a person, probably a volunteer, has to evaluate him and notify a rescue partner with CACC.  In turn, they shuffle through their contact list looking for the right rescue organization to commit to taking him in.  In this case, it was us.

Now, Juliette is able to put a confirmed hold on him (more paperwork) and we are left to decide on the logistics of transport.  We started with Monday night, but after a few more texts and messages, have decided on Sunday afternoon.  So, Juliette will spring Pops from the shelter as well as get him his rabies vaccine and the appropriate paperwork for him to eventually cross state lines.  I will meet her in the city, and I will take him to Lindsey’s and help get him settled.

After 14 days at Lindsey’s, Pops will make a few hundred mile trek to Minnesota.  More than likely, his road trip will consist of a few drivers each taking a 2 hour leg of the journey.  Once Pops makes it to Minnesota, he will see our rescue vet and be evaluated for any veterinarian care he might need.  It is usually things like spay/neuter, dentals, grooming, etc.  Pops will be placed in a new foster home until the right adopters come along.

In the end, it will have taken at least a dozen people to help Pops find a home.  Not to mention hours of logistics planning.  And, of course, the love and compassion of at least two foster homes before he finds his forever one.

There are thousands of dogs like Pops looking to escape the city shelter and find comfort in a foster home.  And, fortunately, there are lots of people who are able to work the logistics of getting him there. What we don’t have enough of is foster homes.  Foster homes save lives… Please consider becoming a foster home and asking friends and family to do the same.

***Late yesterday, as our plans to move forward were in motion, we also learned that Pops’ latest test revealed that he was no longer positive for the virus!  Fantastic news!  To be cautious, he is still going to stay in IL for two weeks before making his journey “home.”***