In a previous post, I discussed many of the problems one might encounter in adopting a pet of uncertain origin. In an attempt to be warm, fuzzy, and make the idea attractive, I pretty much glossed over the worst case scenario.
The problem is that these animals are not brought to the shelter or rescue agency because people have been loving and caring for them. They are brought because people want to get rid of them. "Give me your tired, your poor…" Sometimes they are already carrying a disease. Sometimes they are so stressed that they don’t have any resistance when they are exposed. That same level of stress can also prevent them from responding to the vaccines given by the rescue folks.
This puppy looks really cute. What you cannot see are the white gums, bloody stool, prolapsed rectum, subnormal body temperature (room temperature) and severe dehydration produced by her parvovirus infection. Her new owners adopted her less than a week ago. The Animal Rescue had given her first puppy vaccines and dewormed her for hookworms and roundworms less than 10 days ago. If you showed me her paperwork, I would have asked you to bring her in for a quick check-up and a stool exam. On paper, she ought to be okay, and last night she still looked okay. She wasn’t, though, and today she crashed. She was exposed to the parvovirus before her body could respond to the vaccines. It is as though somebody started machine-gunning you with live ammo while you were training on a paint-ball course — you are not prepared to fight back.
SO, part of you says, "Don’t get an animal like this; it’s such a crap-shoot. They could become seriously ill and die just about the time you get attached to them." Then there’s the part of you that says, "If we don’t adopt these guys, they will ALL die." You’re between a rock and a hard place, with that "No good deed goes unpunished" feeling. Somehow, a "money-back guarantee" just doesn’t make you feel that much better.
Does it happen that often? Not really. Very seldom, in fact. That’s just a pretty small consolation when it happens to you. We keep doing it anyway, partly because we feel it’s the right thing to do, and partly because we tell ourselves that nothing bad is going to happen to us. Sort of the same way I justify getting on the motorcycle. You pays your money and you takes your choice.