It started with an email from Dana at Merced County Animal Shelter. The email listed a number of dogs requiring rescue. Emails of this sort come in every day, and sometimes it takes a special effort to not feel overwhelmed with the sheer number of animals that need help. Everyone knows they exist and that thousands of good pets die every year because somebody let them down. But the thought is usually an abstract one. It's something you know, but unless you're actually exposed to situations like these first-hand, it's often not something you feel.
I admit I don't open every single one of the these kinds of emails. I know there's a limit to how much I can do, and no good can come from focusing too much on what I can't do.
This particular email from Merced Shelter I did open. After a quick perusal, my attention came to rest on one particular dog. A nondescript black one, labeled as a pit mix--already 2 strikes against her chances of being adopted--but also requiring $1200 for surgery on a broken pelvis and leg.
The brief description provided was:
"Lab/Pit mix female. 10 mos. old. The sweetest dog even though she is badly injured. A/C sent to private vet who said she has a broken pelvis and broken leg. Needs FHO and pin in leg. Vet will do surgery on both for $1200.00. MUST HAVE RESCUE OR FINANCIAL COMMITMENT BY MONDAY OR A/C WILL PICK UP AND EUTHANIZE. Vet staff are in tears over this one as she is such a sweet dog....."
I received that email about 8 days ago. It was a Sunday and her time was almost already up. We do not have the resources in our own home to take her in, but when you can't help one way, you help in another. I felt compelled to at least make a push to get her the funds for her surgery. That would at least increase her chances of being rescued.
So I posted her on Popeye's Facebook account. Nothing more than a copy and paste of those 2 pictures and the short description. She did not even have a name.
That day, Monday, 3 donations came in. A far cry from the $1200 needed, but it was 3 donations more than what we started off with. I contacted Dana just to let her know that somebody was working on raising the funds, hoping to buy more time.
The next day, Tuesday, I reposted on Facebook. By now, the vet was accepting donations directly on her behalf so I included this new info. She was also given a name--Emily. A few more donations came in, but still nowhere near enough.
A couple days later, Thursday, I decided to hold a fundraising drive on our treat website, something I never even thought to do before. All profits generated by sales for 3 days would go towards Emily's surgery fund. The orders immediately started coming in.
By then, Emily's Facebook posts had generated a surprising number of followers. Not massive, but when you consider we are most of us strangers living in different parts of the country, and that Emily is a dog that none of us have ever met, it was fairly incredible.
By Friday of that week, the vet's office informed us that another $550 was needed.
When I called this Monday morning, they told us another $270 was needed.
Within a couple of hours of posting that update on Facebook, we were told that the remainder of the balance had been paid! In just over a week, based on nothing more than 2 pictures and a few sentences from a shelter rep, $1200 was raised for a dog that could have been easily overlooked in any shelter. Most from people I've never personally met, friends and fans of Popeye, friends of friends, long-term and new customers, all across the country. How amazing is that?
This is how one person can make a difference, because it was the total sum of every individual involved that allowed us to reach our goal. Because of the dozens and dozens of people who reached out in their own small but ultimately huge way, a plain black dog named Emily is one step closer to starting a new life.
Emily has had her surgery and is recuperating nicely at the vet for now. We're still trying to find a foster home for her, but at least the first obstacle--and it was a big one--has been overcome, thanks to the combined efforts of so many people.