No Christmas at the Shelter


I wonder what Bailey’s family was thinking.

I wonder what was going through their minds when they tied him to a fence and abandoned him in the Canadian winter.

Was he a cute golden puppy that grew too big for the family? Was he chewing on their shoes? Did he grow too big to be fun anymore? Were they no longer able to afford the vet bills? Did they take Bailey to the vet? Were they worried about losing their jobs? Did they figure it was easier just to leave Bailey tied to a fence than to take some responsibility to look after him or turn him in to a shelter?

What did they think would happen to him? Some kind Samaritan would take him home and love him forever? The authorities would shelter him and he would soon find a new, loving home?

They never could have anticipated, in their wildest imagination, that Bailey would be one of a handful of animals that survived the horrible blaze at the Durham Humane Society Shelter this week. But did it cross their minds that, had Bailey not had the double good fortune to end up in a no-kill shelter and survive its destruction, he might have been euthanized in a few short days?

A good death.

Does Bailey’s family think about the turn of events in the past short tragic week?

Bailey was one of eight dogs and two cats saved from the fire at the Durham Region Humane Society shelter in Oshawa. Most of the animals did not make it out alive.

Durham HumaneThe overcrowded shelter was in a run-down industrial area of Oshawa, a satellite of Toronto that is facing an evisceration of the automotive sector while Smilin’ Jim Flaherty contemplates his navel lint.

The shelter, run on the broken hearts of volunteers, could not afford a sprinkler system. The ultimate irony is that the shelter was hoping to move to a better location soon because of break-ins and vandalism.

The jury is still out on the cause of the fire, although the Fire Marshall seems to have ruled out arson, which would have been the worst, really unthinkable, scenario. In fact, the culprits could have been mice chewing on wiring in the ceiling.

No revelations will heal the hearts of the volunteers who cared for these precious creatures. We can only let them know that their work on behalf of animals in need is so very special. May they have the courage to pick up the pieces and continue on for the animals that need them more than ever.

Animal lovers across the country rallied to help as the news spread.

“It’s been crazy here,” said Richards. “People are very upset and some people have just been crying on the phone.”

Donations poured in to their website and offers of temporary locations, food and supplies kept staff hopping all day.

Whitby mother Candie Abramson and her sons M.J., 13, and Quinton, 11, arrived at the Animal Services shelter on Farewell St. with cash donations in lieu of Christmas gifts for their teachers.

“How many coffee mugs and boxes of chocolates do they really need?” said Abramson. “We thought this way would benefit the little people with four legs.”

Coincidentally, the 50 members of the Divine Light Spiritual Foundation in Oshawa had already picked the humane society for their annual charity donation.

“When we heard about the fire, we thought, `This is imperative, let’s get this done now,'” said Rev. Alva Folkes of the $5,000 gift.

Animal welfare workers were thrilled with the public response.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead

May those that were once Bailey’s family come to know how much poorer they are without him, especially during this season of giving.

And I wonder what Bailey is thinking, after losing his home and those he depended on, spending three days in a cold concrete cage, suffering through a frightening fire, and ending up in another cold concrete cage while, in a week’s time, thousands of boys and girls will be having sugarplum dreams of new iPods and Guitar Heros, and their parents, of HDTV.

More on the story at the Toronto Star.

What can you do?

If you are able to help the Durham Humane Society by making a donation to their trust fund or material donations, follow this link to their website.

If you’re not in the area, please consider a Christmas donation to a needy shelter nearby.


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