But they didn't just give us the dog. There was an application, a home inspection, reference checks, phone calls, paperwork and more care and diligence than I ever imagined possible. Mr. Wilson arrived in Rhode Island healthy, properly cared for and with all of his shots, neutered and with a fresh haircut to boot!
From the forthcoming book, Mr. Wilson Makes it Home ( http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Wilson-Makes-Home-Happiness/dp/1629145734 )
Friends of Homeless Animals, RI was started by Roie Griego as a rescue organization that found homes for unwanted Boston Terriers. But that is far from how Roie began rescuing animals. For some, animal rescue is a passion, and they devote their lives to making the world we live in a better place because of the work they do. Some may ask, “why bother rescuing unwanted pets and animals when there is so much need in the human population?” I have asked the same questions, never giving enough thought to the answer.
After talking with Roie the answer became clear. We do it because by doing so we help both people and the animals who inhabit this earth, and the moment in time that we share. The animals cannot take care of themselves, and people are directly affected by the health and well-being of the animals. Spending time in Mexico, working to improve the lives of abandoned and feral animals there, Roie learned that even the smallest contribution to lessening the enormity of the homeless pet problem is a worthy undertaking. Her work with stray street dogs was the catalyst for Veterinarians Across Borders, whose mission statement, from their website is; “Veterinarians Without Borders advances human health and livelihoods in underserved areas by sustainably improving veterinary care and animal husbandry, working toward preventing, controlling and eliminating priority diseases. Our Vision: Enhance human and animal health and create a secure, diverse, and healthy food supply for all the world’s people.”
Her work has taken her to places that most of us can barely imagine. The suffering that exists in the animal kingdom is staggering, and unnecessary.
I asked her how she remains dedicated after seeing so much misery. She has been an activist for over thirty years, has worked with the Audubon Society showing children the value of wildlife at the Trail Side Museum in Massachusetts, was involved with Jacques’ Cousteau’s “Involvement Days,” lived in Texas and became the chair of a local Boston Terrier group’s rescue division, which in all likelihood led her to her work as the president of Friends of Homeless Animals.
“The story of the starfish describes it best,” she said, and I waited for her to continue, knowing from the brief time that we shared talking on the phone that this was a special person, and the story that would follow worthy of hearing. “A man walked along the beach, and millions of starfish had washed ashore. He bent over, and over, tossing them back into the ocean so that they might live a little longer. A different man walked toward him, and stopped when he saw what was going on, and asked the man throwing the fish back into the ocean why he bothered, when so many would be left to die in the sand, or be washed back ashore. What difference did it make? The man who had been throwing the starfish back in the ocean stopped what he was doing, and looked at the living creature in his hand, and said, ‘because to this starfish, it makes all the difference. And he threw the starfish into the ocean, and bent over and picked up another.”
All of the pets for adoption that FOHA helps are kept in foster homes until somebody notices them, usually through the internet, but sometimes at adoption events. Local pet stores and many pet supply chains have gotten on board, foregoing the practice of selling puppies in lieu of holding adoption events. Different animal rescue groups come together and hold an adoption festival, and the foster pets are all brought to a central location, and people looking to adopt can look around and find their perfect pet.
I never knew. It was inconceivable to me that thousands of people cared for dogs in their homes so that somebody else could adopt them. I had spent the last twenty-plus years working as an EMT in Providence. My world revolved around sick people, injured people, dead and dying people and people who had given up hope. There was an occasional happy ending to a 911 call, but the negative outcomes far exceeded the positive. It is a difficult environment to stay optimistic in, and I fell into the deep end of the pool of disillusionment head first.
Simply knowing that people whom I share this earth with find the time, empathy and hope within themselves to chip away at the immense problem of unwanted pets opened my eyes to the possibility that perhaps there is a better way, and closing the doors of my mind on the problem was not a necessary a very good coping mechanism. My job made me good at taking care of sick and injured people. It was time for my life to veer toward taking care of myself, my family and maybe even some homeless pets.