Giving thanks for the thousands of lives saved, and remembering those lives that, though lost, remain our motivation and source of hope.
by Kristie Lacaros, DCACC Shelter Manager
The following was read aloud during the recent DuPage County Animal Care &Control's Caged For Canines event. We thought you would like to read the touching words Kristie wrote that speaks to the successes and challenges DCACC faces in their life-saving efforts.
We have so many success stories to celebrate at DuPage County Animal Care & Control (DCACC). However, there are times when we are hit with the reality of animal sheltering. Times we are reminded that our successes, though many, are never to be taken for granted. These painful reminders often come in the form of an animal who, for the staff and volunteers that rally around them in the hopes of helping them overcome the odds stacked against them, leave a lasting impression on your heart.
From the moment Edgar arrived as a stray on a cold January day, we knew he would face an uphill battle.
Painfully matted, suffering from vasculitis and a terribly uncomfortable skin condition that left him riddled with painful, scaly patches and ulcerations over his body, Edgar was what you might describe as a “mess”. Despite his painful condition, Edgar remained a sweet and gentle soul. Shelter staff went to work right away: shaving away his matted fur, treating his skin condition, providing him some relief from the pain. Over the next several weeks, DCACC’s Veterinarian and staff continued to do whatever possible to help Edgar heal, with only limited success.
By nature of the unfamiliar sights and sounds, even for an animal in good health, the stress of shelter life can take its toll. Just as in humans, stress can cause an animal’s immune system to become compromised. For an animal in already poor health, battling your way back to health in a shelter environment can be twice as challenging. Staff and volunteers pulled out all the stops to make Edgar feel as comfortable and loved as possible; spending quiet time with Edgar in his kennel or outdoors, taking Edgar on “field trips” for gourmet dog treats, spending days hanging out with staff in the office as a reprieve from the kennel.
But sometimes the reality of animal sheltering becomes all too real when our best efforts and best intentions prove to be not enough.
Despite the love, attention and care showered on Edgar and our sheer determination to help him overcome the odds, Edgar became increasingly depressed. Ultimately Edgar’s little body couldn’t fight any longer. Edgar quietly passed away at the shelter on March 13th while surrounded by the people that cared for him for nearly two months. Though technically without a home, Edgar left this world surrounded by dozens of people who genuinely loved him and grieved his loss.
Stories like Edgar’s are what make DCACC so different from stereotypical Animal Controls and leave a lasting impression on all those involved. Though often the source of tears and heartache at the onset, these painful moments have a way of reigniting the passion and determination of all those affected.
Those of us in the rescue “trenches” are often asked by others how we find the strength do what we do.
Ironically, it is often the “losses”, more so than the “wins”, that provide us with the strength and the resolve to move past the loss, dig deeper, and work harder to honor the memory of those that did not find their happily-ever-after by helping others realize a different outcome.
Let us take a moment to give thanks for the thousands of lives saved, and to remember those lives that, though lost, remain our motivation and source of hope.
We ask you, our pet-loving community friend, to spread the word that DuPage County Animal Care & Control cares and the shelter is an inspiring place to visit. It is full of wonderful animals looking for their hero adopter to walk through the door.
Make a difference in the life of a homeless pet in DuPage County.
The mission of DuPage Animal Friends is to strengthen the lifesaving, compassionate and innovative initiatives at the county shelter. We partner with the shelter to understand the needs of our community's animals, providing financial resources and advocacy on their behalf.