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Keeping Families Together: Callie’ Story

Dear friend,

I wanted to write to you today to tell you a little story about a family I have gotten to know over the past few weeks and why it is symbolic of our work to help build and sustain true No Kill communities.

Callie is a beautiful, amazing dog who ended up at an animal care and control facility after thieves broke into her house- stealing everything that was there. Christmas presents for the kids, space heaters- all gone. And they let Callie loose when they broke in. She wasn’t something that was of value to the thieves- she just got in their way.

Brother Wolf rescued Callie from the shelter and took her into foster care. Once her mom realized that Callie was with Brother Wolf- she reached out to us immediately in an attempt to get her back. Having lost most everything she owned during the holidays, she couldn’t bear the thought of having lost her dog, too.

Something I have learned over the years of doing this work- oftentimes when there is an animal in crisis, there is a family in need too. Our approach to our work has always been a holistic one: since animals are part of the family, we try to help the entire family. It would be morally irresponsible of us to turn a blind eye to the family on the other end of that dog.

Especially in this time of uncertainty – with so much divisiveness – we really need to come together and help take care of each other.

 So our NeighborCorps team went to Julie’s home to do an assessment of the living situation for Callie. And what we discovered was a woman who, even though she had some significant struggles in her life, loved and missed her dog deeply. It was obvious that not only was Callie an inside dog who spent the majority of her time as the presiding “couch potato”, but that she played an integral role in the life of Julie’s autistic son- and that their bond was a very strong one.

As animal welfare leaders, we need to work just as hard at helping empower folks be the best pet guardians they can be, as we do at rescuing animals from the “shelter system.” A lot of organizations get this part of the work wrong, unfortunately.

Of course, as animal rescuers we do see some really terrible things that people do to animals. Over time, it can make us quick to blame and judge. Indeed, many people come to this work because “they’ve lost faith in people” and “just want to work with animals all day.” (If I am ever interviewing a job applicant, and someone says that to me, it’s an automatic “no” on my end.)

If we are working to build truly sustainable No Kill communities, we MUST strive first to empower families to keep their animals and do better for their animals. To help them with access to any resources they may be lacking. Of course, if an animal is suffering or hurting in anyway, you better believe that Brother Wolf will be right there to get that animal out of that situation, and to safety, in the blink of an eye.

 That was not Callie’s case. Callie lives in a loving home, where she is happy and safe. I hope you will watch this short video above we put together to help share Callie’s story. Check out Callie’s tail wagging when she sees her mom again! Made me cry tears of happiness because we did exactly the right thing for this family by bringing them back together. And now we have a great relationship with Julie, too- one she deeply appreciates as you’ll see.

If Julie ever needs some help for Callie, we’ll be there for them. As we are for many other families like Julie’s that we have helped over the years. Enjoy this happy video, and if you know of any families in need like Julie and Callie, email us at neighborcorps@bwar.org

Thank you for being a part of this work,

Denise Bitz
Founder and President
Brother Wolf Animal Rescue

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