One would think placement and sanctuary automatically go hand in hand. But we have discovered that is not always the case, and much confusion can result. Sanctuaries are often confused with people who do not wish to place, and who just keep more animals than they can care for. This is called hoarding. This is like confusing apples with oranges because they are both round and are fruits. The first thing we did when we decided to ‘really rescue’ animals formally from the streets, from people who could no longer keep them and from kill shelters was to look for a proper site for a sanctuary. A sanctuary has to be in a location where many animals can live in peace and within the legal structure which always limit numbers allowed within city limits. This took about six months. We were lucky to find a location within our home county which is way over 50 % urbanized.
Yet as we enter our eighth year there in June, 2010, we have found that many people go into rescue operations with no plans to provide a sanctuary for old, unfriendly, difficult to place animals, or what we call come-back kids, the animals who were not successfully placed and who end up coming back. It might seem to be putting the cart before the horse, but according to the people who have a rescue and yet make no plans for providing a sanctuary, the two concepts are not tied in a knot. One certainly can rescue, for a time, many animals and try to re-home them, and do a lot of good and help a lot of animals which otherwise would be euthanized, and do this without a back-up sanctuary. And we support these efforts of course for the greater good they do. However for us at Real Rescue, the mission would not have been complete without having the sanctuary first. We are truly no kill, and the sanctuary is our guarantee and promise to the animals who cross our path that we will not give up on them if they can not be re-homed or are health compromised or homely or not trainable in human terms. For example, we have a dog that we placed twice who came back both times because she is basically not trainable and hyper. She is doing fine at the farm, but otherwise would have no place to live. One can always hope that someone will come along someday and like her in spite of her traits of being hyper and not trainable, and that has happened before to our great pleasure and surprise with other hard to place animals.
I have learned lately that there are placement only facilities which do not have and would never consider having a sanctuary. Some sanctuaries might be confused with hoarding by some people. Those people abhor so-called hoarding with a passion. These placement only facilities do sometimes give up on animals which cannot be placed due to health or behavior issues or who will not stay placed. These animals are usually sent back to kill shelters and are killed upon relinquishment. At least these animals had a chance, and that is more than so many animals get in America. But we feel even animals who cannot be easily placed deserve more than just one chance. America is a smart country and rich enough to avoid pet overpopulation but has never chosen to do so. It is a matter of choice as it is politically easier for governments to spend the money and time to run kill shelters as compared to spending money on spay and neuter and law enforcement which would save so much suffering in the long run. We have a long way to go as a country but, in the short run, I would recommend to those who have placement only facilities that you try to line yourself up with an animal sanctuary instead of a local kill shelter for animals you cannot place. It just is one more step toward moving the country and humanity forward. ~Chris