In a story that is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, a 13-year-old Dachshund was left outside an animal shelter near Los Angeles last week, with a touching and affecting note, asking that their longtime pet be put to sleep because his elderly owners could not afford the needed medical care to keep him alive.
The handwritten note read:
Our dog is 13 1/2 years old he is sick starting yesterday with bloody stools, vomiting. Had a skin disease for a few years. We are both seniors, sick with no money. We cannot pay for vet bills, or to put him to sleep. He has never been away from us in all those years, he cannot function without us, please put him to sleep.
Instead of acting on the recommendation in the note, the shelter called Leave No Paws Behind, a non-profit corporation that describes itself as an “all breed rescue, specializing in seniors and pets with special needs.”
When possible we step up, most times in the "11th" hour when all hope is gone, to help save the lives of those that are in most danger of being left behind to die on a cold shelter floor. – Leave No Paws Behind
Harley’s hopeless scenario suddenly turned optimistic, and after receiving medical care at the East Valley Veterinary Clinic in Sun Valley, doctor’s confirmed that Harley was going to be OK and would live a healthy life for at least a few more years.
Yahoo! Shine picks up the story:
The rescue realized the little dog had been well-cared for and according to the note, very much loved, so they decided to try to reach out to the dog's owners.
When the dog owners came forward, they explained they are indeed both sick and cannot even afford their medical treatments or tires for their vehicle. They had taken their dog, who is actually named “Otto Wolfgang Maximus,” to a veterinarian and were told that they would need to run costly tests. When they realized they couldn't even afford to have their dog euthanized by the vet, they were "hysterical" and didn't know what else to do aside from leaving him at the shelter.
The elderly couple read many of the articles and online comments that were posted after the shelter made the Dachshund’s story public – many of which were condemnatory or outright hurtful. Nevertheless, their love for their pet and family member compelled them to come forward, though they wish to remain anonymous.
"We just are living week to week,” one of the pet parents said. “We can't even go to the hospital to get our own treatment… We thought he was dead, but he lives. He’s being well taken care of and, boy, we’re just so extremely grateful.”
Toby Wisneski, founder of Leave No Paws Behind, said that it’s rare that they have an opportunity to reunite a pet with its owners.
“Ninety eight percent of the rescues we take in belong with us,” Wisnewski said. “There are one, two percent of owners who love their animals very much and just believe they have no other option but to surrender them.”
According to Yahoo! Shine, “Wisneski has decided to make the couple a permanent foster for Otto and return the dog to them with the provision they can make regular, weekly visits to the home. The organization will maintain the cost of Otto's food and veterinary care for the rest of his life.”