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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Canine Rescue Stories: Helping or Hindering?
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On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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13 November 2010 - 3:02 pm
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All of us have an ache in our heart whenever we see an email or Facebook post that begins with "Beautiful Dog on Death Row Desperately Needs Home."

We all want to try to help, so we spread the word to everyone we know via places like the Tripawds Rescue Forum or Facebook page.

Oftentimes, like in the case of Tripawd Miles, a success story happens and the dog finds a furever home. Sadly, oftentimes we're not quite sure whatever happens to other rescue dogs.

We all want to do what we can to help dogs find homes, but Tripawds just discovered that sometimes our good intentions can lead to confusion that hinders the process.

We recently learned from a friend who heads up a rescue organization, that many of these "last minute" dog-on-death-row alerts aren't always what they seem.

An Urban Legend is Born

Many times the dog isn't actually on death row, but in our enthusiasm to help, we give people that impression. Rescue stories often end up being passed around like the telephone game, with the facts becoming so mixed up that it's hard to get the facts so the dog can be helped.

For example, recently we were told about a German Shepherd who was looking for a home, and his picture was posted in the Tripawds Rescue Forum and Facebook page. His amputation had been done and paid for by the rescue group, but suddenly his time was up and he needed to find a home, "or else."

A call out went all over the web, and people were desperately trying to help spread the word, including us.

After reading about him, a Tripawds friend who leads a German Shepherd Rescue Group did some investigating to try to help.

He learned that the name of the shelter the dog was supposedly in was wrong (the dog was actually in Florida, not California), and the dog was in no danger of being euthanized.

Since the call went out, the shelter had been besieged by phone calls from people trying to help. Exasperated, the shelter director told our friend:

"Why on earth would we have him on death row after paying thousands for his amputation and care?!"

After learning this, we wondered how we had missed that little fact in the earliest posts on Facebook. The dog was up for adoption and the shelter was doing all they could to find him a home.  All the calls and emails they had been answering from well-intentioned folks were actually preventing them from getting their work done.

Assess the Situation Before Spreading the Word

Stories like this can circulate through the Internet for years. Many shelters still get calls about "Lab Puppies Found by the Highway Need a Home Now!"  years after they were all saved. We think there really needs to be a "" for rescue dog stories!

We learned a valuable lesson, that sometimes we can do more good, by getting out of the way of the shelters who are trying to re-home the dog. Of course it's good to try to help, and although we don't claim to have the answers as to how to discern fact from fiction, maybe we can all ask ourselves these questions before telling everyone we know about the dog:

  • How authentic does this story seem to be?
  • Does the original poster have some kind of personal connection to the dog?
  • Did someone already pay for the dog's medical expenses?
  • Is the dog in a no-kill shelter?
  • Does any of the information come directly from the shelter?
  • Is there concise contact information about how to help?

Can you think of any other ways we can do more good when trying to help?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Pahrump, NV
Member Since:
17 February 2010
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16 November 2010 - 1:34 am
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I think that rather than "spreading the word", we should help the people with the facts spread the word to a larger audience.  Case in point: Jennifer, from the Santa Cruz SPCA had the great idea to start a blog for Ranger here on  I don't know how she found us, but it turned out that her knowledge found Ranger a forever home, and I found an incredible dog!  I didn't even read the blogs much at the time.  A link to his blog showed up on my facebook page, which started the process for me.  Is there a way to filter these stories through someone who can contact the shelter and suggest they post the stories themselves? Or, can we send some sort of mass newsletter to shelters and rescue groups to let them know that we are a resource for finding homes for tripawd dogs?  I just know that I'll be forever grateful for Jennifer's resourcefulness in coming to tripawds to tell Ranger's story.

Sadie is my 9yr old Rott/Shepherd mix. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right scapula 1/28/10. Our brave girl had her amputation 2/13/10 and her last chemotherapy on 6/6/10. Unfortunately, a tumor appeared in her back right leg and on 10/7/2010 Sadie's earthly journey came to an end.  On 10/24/2010 we adopted Ranger, a handsome Rott/Lab mix tripawd (got hit by a car) I think Sadie sent him to us.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Member Since:
14 August 2009
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16 November 2010 - 9:49 pm
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I was just thinking of you this morning when I read this post.  I thought - look at Ranger!


My thoughts are, does it matter if it's an old or incorrect story?  If it gets people to call the shelter, then they can direct them to another dog in need.   The shelter should be educated on what to do.  If someone calls about a dog in need, then to me it's no harm, no foul.   It is a numbers game after all.  More people, more potential of homes for dogs.

But you can always use something like Best Friends Animal Society to get your message out.  I get email alerts from them for local alerts of dogs missing or in need of a home.  I don't know the process on how they get to use their mailing lists.

Her Retired AvatarComet - 1999 to 2011

She departed us unexpectedly  January 23, 2011 at the age of 12 1/2.

She was born with a deformed front leg and a tripawd all of her life.

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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17 November 2010 - 1:32 pm
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Hey that's weird, my last post didn't appear...

Well, I just called a shelter about a "Needs home NOW" posting I saw in Facebook (see: http://tinyurl......ippyPittie). It took all but 1 minute and the guy who picked up the phone was actually someone who knew Skippy really well (weird, he says, because he never answers the phone, he's always working with the dogs). He was grateful I called because the shelter has indeed all but given up on this guy.

So it just goes to show you that you never can tell, and perhaps just a one minute phone call can help save a dog's life.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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