Do you have a relative, friend, or neighbor who is neglecting their dog? I’m not talking about a dog that just needs a bath or perhaps a haircut, I’m talking about a dog that has toenails growing into his paws, skin that has been itched raw because of fleas or some kind of allergy, a coat that is matted and dirty, is either severely over or underweight, perhaps is chained outside most of the time, and in general looks like a train wreck. And that’s just on the outside.

I’m asking this question because I’m hoping you’re willing to help. No, I’m not asking for donations to help us care for the dogs that come to us, I’m asking you to help BEFORE the dog ends up in a shelter and then comes to us… damaged beyond repair with a broken body and broken spirit.

Old Dog Haven is constantly—and I do mean constantly—being asked to take in dogs from elderly people who can no longer care for them. Or, in many cases we’re asked if we can help people with their dogs’ medical care because they’re struggling financially. Most of the time these dogs are in terrible physical shape from unintentional neglect; the dogs suffer because their people can’t afford care for them. And, what’s even more devastating is that too often people have to give up their dogs because they can’t afford needed care. The dogs end up in shelters and then come to ODH with long-neglected medical issues or just “deferred maintenance” and they’re miserable. Our financial resources are stretched thin because our mission is to get old dogs out of shelters and to provide loving homes and medical attention for them once they are in our care and we’re really not in a position to pay veterinary expenses for dogs that live with people who are not ODH fosters.

And then there are the dogs that come to us suffering from neglect that can’t possibly be unintentional.  We do everything we can to help any neglected dog that comes to us, but sometimes the damage is so severe that the dog’s quality of life is compromised beyond help and the kindest thing we can do is to let the dog move on to his next expression of spirit.

If you know of an elderly or financially challenged friend, neighbor or family member who needs help getting vet care for their dog, you can help. How about volunteering to take the dog to the vet? Seems like that would be a wonderful gift you could offer both the dog and the person. Perhaps the vet visit could be a birthday/holiday gift for a relative? Or maybe it would be just a gesture of kindness for a neighbor or friend. Or, your willingness to help might make it possible for an elderly person to still be able to keep his or her dog. If there are medications involved once the dog has seen the vet, perhaps you could ask someone else you know to step up and help with that part.

Perhaps some of you are thinking that people shouldn’t have dogs if they can’t afford to care for them, so why should you pay someone else’s vet bills? Or, why should you drive someone else’s dog to the vet? After all, the dog isn’t your responsibility. In theory your thinking might be accurate, but sometimes the realities of life don’t hold up to theories. More importantly, why not focus on helping the dog rather than judging the person? Dogs live their lives subject to the choices people make (or don’t make) about them and if helping dogs is something you want to do, what I’m suggesting is one way to do that.

Remember that blog I wrote about the ripple effect? What I’m talking about here is a great example of how the ripple effect works. I’m thinking that if everyone reading this could help out one person they know who loves their dog but can’t afford important care, every one of you could make a huge difference in not only the life of a person but also a dog.

There’s also another part of helping a dog that’s being neglected that I need to mention. And this is the hard part. If you have a relative, friend or neighbor who is neglecting their dog and your offers to help are rejected, please don’t walk away and ignore what you see.  For the sake of the dog, get involved.

The situation may fall into the “unintentional” neglect that I mentioned earlier, but more than likely the situation doesn’t involve a positive relationship between the dog and his person. I’m talking about dogs that are treated like possessions rather than family members and even as possessions they aren’t maintained even nearly as well as household items.

If you know of a dog that’s being neglected and your offer to do any or all of the things to help that I’ve mentioned in earlier paragraphs is refused, it’s time to take it to the next level. Contact Animal Control and ask them to do a welfare check on the dog. Think about the welfare of the dog.

You don’t want to get involved? You don’t want your relative, friend or neighbor to be angry with you? If you say or do nothing you become part of the problem rather than a voice that contributes to the solution. For the sake of the dog, please get involved!

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