Monday, April 4, 2011

A Pooch Named Patrick

Because the heart beats under a covering of hair, of fur, feathers, or wings, it is, for that reason, to be of no account?   - Jean Paul Richter

Have you heard about Patrick the pit bull? Patrick (so named because he was found the day before St. Patrick's Day) was starved to the brink of death, placed in a garbage bag, and then tossed down a garbage chute.  It is worth mentioning that the person who allegedly tossed him down the chute lives on the 22nd floor.  A maintenance worker spotted the slightest movement inside that garbage bag and opened it.  Inside he found a skeleton, a skeleton that was, miraculously, still breathing. Thanks to the immediate medical attention he received after he was found, Patrick is alive.  He has many weeks (if not months) of recovery ahead of him, but he lives.  His Facebook page currently has well over 70,000 members.  His bony red head is all over the internet.

My Facebook news feed is typically full of animal-related new stories, pleas, and petitions. I'm able to (mentally) filter out a lot of it, to be honest.  As a rescue volunteer, I have to focus on one dog at a time.  If I fret over a dog on death row in faraway Atlanta, I'll lose my mind (as a side note, I hate how the pleas always come across as "to be destroyed on Thursday!" as if the dog is going to be blown up or something - the rescue biz is hard enough without throwing that kind of guilt around.)  Patrick's story, however, stuck out for me.  I've thought about him a lot over the past two weeks. Although I've never been particularly drawn to pit bulls (certain breeds do make my heart go pitty-pat, particularly: Boxers, Beagles, German Shepherds, Boston Terriers, and big black mutts), I cannot deny that Patrick's face could melt a glacier. I hope the poor dog has a good temperament.  In my volunteer work with a Boxer rescue organization, I have occasionally seen cases where a dog has been rehabilitated only to exhibit unadoptable behavior later on.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Patrick, because he puts a face (a very cute one at that) on something that goes on every minute of every day. At this point, I'm not at all worried about this adorable pup from New Jersey. I have no doubt that he'll have many suitors and will be adopted into an exceptional and loving home (it wouldn't surprise me if one of his caregivers decides to keep him - it is really hard to give up a dog that you have nursed from sickness into health). As soon as Patrick's story hit the news, donors immediately came forward and covered the cost of his care.  Fortunately, the folks who are handling the communication regarding Patrick's health status have taken advantage of his notoriety by directing the public's attention towards other dogs in need.  It's a good use of the platform, which is likely to be a temporary one (news stories come and go so fast, it seems). But for now, I'm happy to see that people are riled about Patrick and his abuser.  Things get done when people are riled. Animal lovers are demanding stricter penalties for abusers and one hopes that, eventually, lawmakers will listen. As a side note, have you ever noticed that when some asshat is accused of starving an animal, that person certainly appears as though they've never missed a meal themselves?

As for me, I'm glad that people are worked up about this dog and what was done to him. Maybe a few shelters will gain some extra volunteers and/or adopters as a result. There are lots of Patricks out there. Of course, there is always a part of me that wonders how one can look at a dog and think, "you're adorable" and then look at a pig (an animal that has been proven to be every bit as smart as a dog) and think, "you're delicious."  I'm still convinced that if all the world had to kill their own food, there'd be a lot more vegetarians. But, I digress.

For most of us who work/volunteer for shelters and rescues, our day-to-day efforts are much quieter and less dramatic than a story like Patrick's. Our organization has helped over 700 Boxers to date. There's no real fanfare, just a brief "hurrah!" for each adoption and then we check the incoming list to see who's next. We do love (and are buoyed by) our supporters, of course. It amazes me how many of our adopters quietly and discreetly send a check to our P.O. Box, often with an encouraging "keep up the good work!" note attached (and expecting nothing in return). While a group like Rescue Ink gets a lot of attention, thousands of other groups just keep plugging away in relative anonymity. Now, don't get me wrong - I love Rescue Ink.  What's not to like about tattooed bad boys with big hearts?  My point is just that animal rescue is seldom about swooping in and plucking an animal from the very jaws of death. It's more akin to feeling like Sisyphus every single day. We place one dog and two more appear in her place. The boulder just keeps rolling back down. Maybe all it takes is a story like Patrick's to give us the inspiration to push it back up there one more time.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

His face melts my heart too! I am happy to see he is still alive (22nd floor?!) and fighting <3 I hope he makes it through this and is as sweet and loving as he looks. I hope he finds his forever home (there's probably a line a mile long!)