Anatomy of a Rescue: It Took a Small Army to Save My One-Eyed Pekingese
Six months ago, I shared my story about failing as a foster and adopting Beasley, my one-eyed senior Pekingese. I received a lot of great comments, here on Dogster and on other social networks. Two commenters who read the article linked from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue's Facebook page had their own stories to tell of Beasley’s rescue.
Beasley was “owner surrendered” at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter last year. A woman named Mirja Bishop had just arrived at the shelter -- where she had been volunteering two days a week for more than five years -- when one of the technicians handed her a leash and asked her to take Beasley to the small dog cage that was to be her new home.
The first response on my foster failure post was from her:
“I walked through the shelter, led by this little warrior who walked with such authority that you would think she had just come in first place at the Westminster Dog Show," Mirja would later tell me. "I fell in love with Beasley and started networking her right away. I did not want her to stay at the shelter any longer than absolutely necessary.”
When Mirja got home she posted about Beasley on Facebook and on PetConnect.Us, a central valley California rescue dedicated to helping find homes for urgent shelter animals.
“My biggest role, as I see it, at the shelter is writing about the dogs," she says. "I research what is known about a dog, put their stories together, and network the dogs on Facebook and directly with rescue organizations. I am always on the look out at the shelter for older dogs, disabled dogs, or those who have been at the shelter for a long time."
Mirja’s post rapidly made its way through the social “rescue railroad” and was shared by hundreds of people and rescue organizations, all working to get Beasley out of the shelter. People pledged donations in the hundreds of dollars to fund Beasley’s rescue efforts, while many others offered encouraging words of support and prayers for Beasley.
One of those people was Mari Miyatake, who spends much of her spare time coordinating rescue efforts in the Los Angeles area. She has helped more than 50 dogs out of the shelter and into forever homes over the last ten years.
“I remember seeing Beasley's picture on Facebook and I fell in love with her face," Mari says. "She had that permanent blink that said to me, 'I'm cute as a button, but I'm old and no one wants me 'cause I'm broken.' I started contacting senior rescue organizations, begging them to take Beasley. I offered up a big donation to entice the rescues, which is what I usually do if I can't take the dog myself.”
Six days after Beasley was dropped off at the shelter, Mari received a response from Sherri Franklin, founder of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco, offering to take Beasley. “I loved Beasley’s face, with her one eye," Sherri says. "She was red-listed [in danger of being euthanized] and needed to get out of the shelter. I just knew that Muttville could find her a home.”
Over several days, rescuers scrambled to coordinate Beasley’s transportation from Los Angeles to San Francisco. One woman, who had an upcoming business trip to San Francisco, posted, “I’ll carry her in my arms if I have to!” In the meantime, Beasley remained at WLA. The shelter staff knew she was being networked and worked closely with volunteers to keep her safe.
On June 19, Mari confirmed Beasley's transportation to San Francisco. She, along with many others in the rescue community, works with Pilots N Paws and Wings of Recue, as well as a network of private pilots who volunteer their time (and planes) to transport rescues. One of those, a U.S. Navy pilot who has requested to remain anonymous, offered to give Beasley a lift.
Beasley’s flight was all set, but there was still much to be done. In Beasley’s rescue thread on PetConnect.Us' Facebook page, commenters were busy making arrangements to pull Beasley from the shelter and secure temporary housing for her in Los Angeles.
A few days later their efforts were rewarded and Beasley pranced out of the shelter.
Paige Hopkins, an animal rights activist who has six dogs and three cats but still manages to make room for those who need temporary shelter, fostered Beasley in Los Angeles the night before her flight to San Francisco.
“Beasley's stay with us was brief but memorable," she wrote. "The minute she waddled into my home, she was queen! She never sped up her waddle -- just sauntered through the house and yard sniffing and checking things out. She found the bed that suited her, the bowl she wanted, and that was it.”
The following day Beasley landed safely in San Francisco, where she was picked up and whisked away to Muttville.
Beasley’s official "Gotcha" Day, the day celebrated to recognize the day I adopted her, was listed as August 26 on her Pet Page on Dogster, but I changed it to June 10, because that is the day she was “adopted” by the wonderful community of dog lovers and rescuers who helped her find the way to her forever home. A heartfelt thanks to ALL of you from Beasley and me!
Do you participate in a "rescue railroad" or use social networking to support your rescue efforts? Tell us about it in the comments!
Read Lori's first story on Beasley: I Fostered a One-Eyed Pekingese -- and Couldn't Give Her Up!
and more about senior rescue: Dogster HQ Celebrates National Mutt Day with a Visit to Muttville!
Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.