In the animal welfare industry, we talk about intake diversion at our shelters. What does intake diversion mean? It’s where we look at each individual animal’s situation to determine how best to help. Whether that is offering resources to owners so they can keep their pet, providing medical assistance, or helping a finder of a lost pet locate the owner, we know there are many cases where we can keep pets and people together, without that pet needing to come to through the shelter system.
Wilson’s story is a great example of this. Dean, a retired Veteran, brought Wilson to us in September after Wilson, Dean’s service dog, had been attacked by another dog at the dog park. Our President/CEO, Teresa, met Dean when they arrived and asked our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Scott, if we could look at Wilson to see if we could help. Wilson had several deep lacerations that needed sutures and antibiotics as soon as possible, and Dean could not get an appointment at his vet for at least three days. He described Wilson as “his baby that goes everywhere with him.” Dean is on a fixed income and was worried about the cost for care, but knew Wilson needed emergency medical care as soon as possible. Dr. Scott and Teresa knew we needed to help Dean to provide the care that Wilson desperately needed.
We admitted Wilson to our hospital, and Dean came back to the shelter multiple times during that day to check on him, saying “he’s my baby.” Dean got Wilson as a puppy through a Craigslist ad and had Wilson for more than 7 years. Dean and his friends take Wilson to a local hospital to visit sick patients and make frequent visits to the VA Hospital. As a retired Veteran, Dean does everything in his power to make sure his dogs are well taken care of and loved.
In the past, Dean might have had to relinquish his pet to a shelter for treatment. But as a Human Animal Support Services (HASS) pilot shelter, we are reimagining how animal shelters can help pets and pet owners in this new model. Knowing Dean and Wilson’s story, how could we not help these two that obviously mean so much to each other? Your donations to our Keep ‘Em Together Fund help us keep these families together, and you can even sign up for monthly gifts to this fund.