A little over a week ago, the animal world was rocked by the story of an elderly couple who, due to sickness and poverty, were forced to surrender their 13 year old dachshund to a local animal shelter outside of Los Angeles, California.
The couple left the pup in a basket outside of Baldwin Park Animal Shelter with a heartbreaking note, detailing how the dog was too sick for them to care for and that they were unable to pay for veterinary care. The dog had been suffering from bloody stool and vomiting, as well as an uncomfortable skin condition. The note closes, “He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.”
Little did they know, what they thought would be the end of their dog’s life ended up being the beginning of a national news story.
Sacrifice Leads to a New Beginning
Instead of putting the dog to sleep, shelter workers called Leave No Paws Behind — an all breed, all foster based rescue that specializes in seniors, who rescued the dog and named him Harley. After a vet visit, it was determined that not only could Harley be treated, but he most likely had a “couple of more years” left in him, according to an update on the organization’s Facebook page.
The rescuers realized the little dog had been well-cared for and, according to the note, well loved, so they decided to try to reach out to the his former owners and set things right.
When the elderly couple came forward, they explained that they didn’t know where else to turn when Otto (Harley’s actual name) became ill. They had taken him to the vet, where they were told Otto would need costly tests in order to be diagnosed. When they realized they couldn’t even afford to have him euthanized, they were “hysterical,” and decided that leaving him at the shelter was the best course of action.
When contacted by local news station KTLA, one of the owners commented, “We just are living week to week… we can’t even go to the hospital to get our own treatment.”
Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind provided the following statement regarding her decision to return the dog to his original owners:
“I do not believe that all humans who surrender their loving companions are bad people. What I have come to realize is that some, and there are a few, fall on hard and difficult times, loss of jobs, senior and elderly folks who are sick and need help, loss of homes etc. etc. I also believe that they are not aware that there is help out there for their beloved pets and we are hoping to be able to get that message to them. If Harley’s humans come forward, we will speak with them, do our standard home check AND if we find that they are indeed loving, kind and genuinely care for sweet Harley, which we do believe, and the only issue is help with medical care and basic needs for him, yes, we will reunite them!”