By: Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell | Pet360.com
An elderly couple who left their 13 ½ year old Dachshund tied outside of the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter near Los Angeles with a note asking for him to put to sleep because they could not afford to care for him will be reunited with the dog.
The heartbreaking note reads, "Our dog is 13 1/2 years old he is sick starting yesterday with bloody stools, vomiting. Had a skin disease for a few years. We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep."
Instead, shelter workers called Leave No Paws Behind, Inc., an all breed, all foster based rescue that specializes in seniors, who picked up the dog and initially named him Harley. When the dog was taken to a veterinarian, it was determined he could not only be treated, but most likely had a "couple of more years" left in him, according to an update on the organization's Facebook page.
The rescue realized the little dog had been well-cared for and according to the note, very much loved, so they decided to try to reach out to the dog's owners.
When the dog owners came forward, they explained they are indeed both sick and cannot even afford their medical treatments or tires for their vehicle. They had taken their dog, who is actually named Otto Wolfgang Maximus, to a veterinarian and were told that they would need to run costly tests. When they realized they couldn't even afford to have their dog euthanized by the vet, they were "hysterical" and didn't know what else to do aside from leaving him at the shelter.
"We just are living week to week," one of the pet parents, who wished to remain anonymous, told KTLA in an interview. "We can't even go to the hospital to get our treatment."
Although they had read the judgments people were making about their decision after the story was made public, they reached out to the rescue anyway. "I was in tears when I realized that their love for this darling little man outweighed their fear of what people may say about them and I knew instantly, our decision to try to reunite Otto with his humans was the right decision!" reads the post on Leave No Paws Behind.
The organization believes the Otto's owners loves him very much and just felt they had no other choice. "Ninety eight percent of the rescues we take in belong with us," said Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind. "There are 1-2 percent of owners who love their animals very much and just believe they have no other option but to surrender them."
Wisneski has decided to make the couple a permanent foster for Otto and return the dog to them with the provision they can make regular, weekly visits to the home. The organization will maintain the cost of Otto's food and veterinary care for the rest of his life.
The couple lives outside of California and was on a ministry trip when they dropped Otto at the shelter. They will pick the dog up at the end of the month when they are able to get enough money to purchase new tires for their vehicle.
According to Pet Insurance Zone, the average cost of a visit to the vet has soared to $190 for cats and $360 for dogs. The cost rose 64 percent between 1998 and 2006.
The cost of having a beloved pet euthanized is not cheap, either. One veterinarian paper put the total cost between $150-$800, which includes veterinarian services, drugs and cremation.
According to the most recent study by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), a total of 13 percent of the dogs relinquished by owners to shelters is due to the financial inability to care for the animal, personal problems or a pet's illness. An estimated 1.5-3.5 million animals each year are relinquished to shelters by their owners.
Wisneski said pet owners should check with local rescues and shelters, many of which have accounts to help owners in financial crisis. Leave No Paws Behind even has a memorial fund set up to help people with euthanasia if they cannot afford it and the pet is terminally ill.
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