A Legacy for Buddy

by Hilary Bentley • Posted in: Awareness/ PR, Behavior, Donations, Fundraising, Outreach, Volunteering

On Friday morning, May 21st, a beautiful dog named Buddy was killed at Town Lake Animal Center.  A series of miscommunications both internally at TLAC and between TLAC and APA! resulted in a tragic death that could have been prevented by improved protocol and communication.  Buddy was a favorite of APA! and TLAC volunteers alike and had been a regular at our trail site, as well as a specially requested attendee at our SoCo adoption site. Those of us who knew him are heartbroken and dismayed.  APA! was told there was a hold on Buddy through close of business on the 21st (clear instruction that he not be killed) while we determined our course of action.  By late that morning, we had a foster home ready, Behavior & Enrichment Team volunteers lined up to work with Buddy in his foster home, and additional volunteers ready to pay for and take Buddy through professional training classes. While we were spending the afternoon organizing this, we had no idea that Buddy was already dead.

Buddy’s death is a tragedy that never should have occurred. He was a wonderful and highly adoptable dog whose life at the shelter ended just as it had endured while he was there; unfairly. The focus now must be to ensure that something like this never happens again. When the Animal Advisory Commission submitted their recommendations to the city, there was a provision included to ensure that there were safeguards in place in the form of step by step procedures that had to be followed and signed off on before any animal was killed at the shelter. This provision did not make it into the final implementation plan, but it needs to be there. Had these safeguards been in place, Buddy would still be alive. Taking a life is both tragic and irreversible, regardless of the circumstances, and something that should never be done until every possible alternative has been exhausted.

In honor of this dog that so many of us loved, we are starting Buddy’s Fund in the hope to give Buddy a legacy that will help other dogs in need. This fund will pay for dogs like Buddy who need extra enrichment and support in their lives while they wait for their forever homes, as well as continued training for adopters of high need dogs.

Some dogs need the socialization benefits, structure, boundaries, or social skills offered through professional training classes or work with a behaviorist. Some dogs are simply high energy and, while they may need or benefit from the aforementioned support, high energy dogs just do not often thrive in a shelter environment. It’s why so many of them find their way to the kill list, just as Buddy did. In a lower energy dog, the stress of the shelter environment often results in a less visible kind of depression. In a high energy dog, it manifests through acting out behaviors like jumping, mouthing, or biting on the leash. APA! has the Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program and professional behavior program led by trainer, Robin Cupell and TLAC has the trail dog program to get active dogs out for exercise. Buddy’s Fund will supplement those programs by financing a variety of professional training classes and behaviorist support for our dogs.  We would like to offer support through the fund to dogs housed at TLAC as well.

Buddy’s Fund and the additional behavior support programs mentioned will not always be enough. A dog who is highly adoptable but demonstrates that they cannot thrive in a shelter environment should have a foster home made available for them. APA! can always use more foster homes and would love to have more fosters dedicated to behavior cases. As TLAC grows their foster program, foster homes should be opened up, not just to underage, pregnant, or sick animals, but to animals like Buddy who’s best chance at adoption exist outside the walls of the shelter.

When something like this happens, it can feel hard to go on. I’ve been crying since I sat down to write this and have been struggling for days to deal with what happened to Buddy. I know I’m not the only one.  But giving up or walking away would be both selfish and ineffectual. We can stand around feeling sad and mumble about how we’re doing our best or we can stand up for Buddy and realize that we can still do better. Austin is a city with all the potential in the world to be a leader in what a humane, compassionate, and just society looks like.  But if we want to live in that city, it’s going to take hard work on the part of everyone here.  Start small, start big, speak out, break a sweat…do what needs to be done to create the type of world where Buddy would be living happily in his new family’s home.

Volunteer with APA!: http://www.austinpetsalive.org/get-involved/volunteer/

Volunteer with TLAC: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/animal_services_help.htm

Find a local volunteer opportunity that works for you: http://kut.org/get_involved

Photo one by Savannah Lightfoot of Scarlett Blue Photography at APA! South Congress adoption site.  Photo 2 by TLAC Volunteer Peggy Fikac at APA! trail site.

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6 Responses to "A Legacy for Buddy"

  1. David Ramossays: May 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I am so very sorry guys, heartbroken too. Big hugs to you all – sending some support as well very soon.

  2. Kelly Sloansays: May 28, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I was so sad and shocked to see that Buddy was killed. He was an awesome and intelligent guy and I actually got to do some of the agility course with him at TLAC… I know he would have made some potential adopter out there really happy.
    I hope these “misunderstandings” never happen again.

  3. Rachelsays: May 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for writing this – it’s very touching. I know there were lots of people at TLAC who loved Buddy and will miss him.

  4. Dan | Ask Dan & Jennifersays: June 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Hi Amy. wow, how sad, how really really sad. I just clicked on the previous story about Buddy, and I remember seeing the picture of him holding that red leash… :-(

    The gross negligence and general ambivalence with which we treat our fellow animals is incredible… at least we’re slowly trying to change as a society, but damn it, it should be moving faster.

    If a “miscommunication” let someone to kill a human, we’d be talking now about wrongful death lawsuits, criminal charges, criminal negligence, etc… For now there’s no such protection for these poor animals. Nobody will sue for wrongful death, nobody will pursue criminal charges.

    We’re not there yet, but there is hope, and that time will come…

    “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.” — Mahatma Gandhi

    Hang in there, keep doing the good work, keep fighting for the thousands of other wonderful puppies who need our help.

    Dan

  5. Jamessays: June 2, 2010 at 5:08 am

    That is possibly one of the saddest things I have ever read :( God Bless Buddy

  6. Jane Harveysays: June 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I really miss Buddy and I can assure those of us at TLAC are pro-active and committed to this unfortunate mistake not ever happening again this includes staff as well as volunteers. Thank you APA for stepping up to save a pup who really needed us to get him out of shelter enviorment. Never Again this was extremely tramatizing for all of us. Thank you for setting up this Buddy Fund. Thank you to all for all y’all do. Jane