When animals leave Animal Ark, it is almost always accompanied by a celebration. Not so today. We maintain a 98% live-release rate, which could be the highest save rate for any animal shelter in the USA. It is certainly one of the highest save rates for an open admission shelter, like Animal Ark.
Though Animal Ark will not accept any animal from any community in the world, we do have a contract with our local animal control guaranteeing that any unclaimed pet that is not terminally ill or dangerous to people has a place to go. While we celebrate this no kill achievement, today, we are focused on another facet of the no kill movement: No kill does not mean that every animal can be saved.
Today, Animal Ark had to say goodbye to a friend we have come to love. His name was Gator. He was loving, friendly and especially easy-going.
On November 10, 2010 he was transferred to Animal Ark from our area's impound center. He was not in very good shape. His owner had died and Gator was home alone with him when that happened. It was several days before authorities found his owner and rescued Gator. Needless-to-say, Gator was thin and in need of some extra TLC when he came to Animal Ark. So we did all we could.
We made special foods. We let him stay in our office area to get extra love. Volunteers and staff alike were sometimes found laying on his bed. He loved attention and snuggling more than just about anything.
He was thin when he got to Animal Ark, but, over the following weeks, he kept getting thinner. He would have intermittent bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. And, as we worked to figure out what was wrong, he gradually grew thinner and thinner.
Various tests were inconclusive. So, volunteers and staff mixed up specially made bland foods. He would do well for a while and then crash. Today, after an especially bad spell and another round of tests, it was discovered that his body was filled with cancer. So, today, surrounded by loving friends, Gator was released from his painful failing body. We tried to reach our volunteers in advance, so that those able could come to say goodbye. Many came down for one last snuggle. Those who could not come will no doubt remember this special dog.
Though not the outcome we wanted, we are privileged to have given him a couple of really happy months. Treats, playtime and love were all in abundance since Gator arrived at Animal Ark. When his body was no longer able to provide Gator a comfortable life, we also provided him a peaceful exit from his pain.
That is the definition of "euthanasia". While we believe in the no kill mission with all of our hearts, we also understand that "no kill" does not mean "no euthanasia". Today, Gator helped us remember that.
Rest in peace Gator.