What started with a posted picture on Facebook led to a heart wrenching liberation for some very special dogs. By now, many of you have seen or heard in the media about the hard-hitting rescue of the 18 Irondale dogs. I write this not knowing where to even begin and the reality is it is worthy of a book. It’s a rescue that touched so many of us on many different levels and one we will never forget. Tragic yet inspiring, hopeless to hopeful, sickly to healing defines the emotional rollercoaster we now dub “The Irondale Rescue.”
With a team of six very diverse rescuers, we took off last Friday heading to Irondale, not knowing what to expect. The picture we had seen showed nine dogs – most of them looking as if they had one paw already in the grave. As we pulled up, we realized nine suffering souls was not the whole picture; there were so many more.
Greeted by an impoverished elderly woman with a face that told of story of struggle, she recognized me from previous TV news rescues. That sense of familiarity triggered an instant bond of trust. “Randy, I would only let you help these poor dogs because I know you won’t kill them,” she said. I assured her I am not here to judge her or ridicule but was here to help. We hugged.
The strays were not her fault but the fault of ignorant people who think dumping dogs in the country is somehow humane. In such a rural poverty stricken place with zero animal welfare resources, “animal control” is done by the wrong end of a shotgun, which is the norm. She allowed the dogs to stay on her property to protect them from being shot. But when you can’t even afford to feed yourself, how do you care for so many dogs? You can’t. I felt sympathy and compassion for her because she loves these tortured souls and did what she could while waiting for a miracle.
Using their desperate need for food, we started to lure each skittish mangy pup to our arms. Most screamed in fear, some tried to bite, some defecated and some just went limp, shutting down immediately. All were emaciated and very sick.
Stray Rescue’s veterinarian team rose to the occasion this day. The trauma center was hopping as each dog began to get their emergency care. I watched with such deep pride and admiration for our amazing team. I turned and looked at the other rescuers and noticed we all were welling up with tears. They weren’t tears of joy or sadness, but tears of relief knowing that the lives of these dogs truly begin today. This is Stray Rescue.