Why A Sanctuary

Some people have asked if a care for life sanctuary is needed in this day of animals previously overlooked for adoption finding homes. There are now stories of animals rescued and finding homes that would have never had a chance 10 years ago.  Is there a need for a care for life sanctuary like Home for Life anymore with so many rescues out there, and more animals finding homes?

In the animal welfare world, the adoption model is based on a marketplace paradigm - where animals are marketed and sold like any standard consumer goods - shoes, clothes, televisions and stereos, and cars. What many don't realize is that rescues and shelters derive anywhere from  35% - 90% of their annual revenue from adoption fees. For many dogs and cats, this marketplace model is effective in reaching a wider audience and potential adoptive homes. For others, like many of Home for Life's intakes, the model has failed miserably and put the lives of vulnerable dogs and cats at risk. It is for these dogs and cats that Home for Life was created.

Meet "Outlaw" a 5-year old Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) who has had NINE(9) placements in his short life. He arrived at Home for Life just one month ago, on Labor Day 2016 - our volunteer met the shelter director of the Jasper County, Iowa Animal Rescue in Albert Lea, MN, south of the Twin Cities, then brought him to Home for Life.

He was born in Mesquite Texas on a farm, where he lived until age 3. When his elderly owner developed heart disease and cancer he was forced to surrender Outlaw to the animal shelter in Mesquite, Texas. This shelter had a good working relationship with a rescue, K911, run by a woman named Mary, who fostered out of her home, and who primarily focused on the working breeds - cattle dogs, border collies, Aussies. She is one of the heroes of the story, because if not for her, this dog would have been lost to the animal welfare "system," a victim through no fault of his own.

Mary's Texas rescue, K911, featured him on Petfinder and a young couple wished to adopt Outlaw as a companion for their other cattle dog, a female, They traveled to Texas from Arkansas and seemed like a good home - but their female didn't like Outlaw, so within 48 hours, the husband returned him. It was back on Petfinder for Outlaw; eventually his face captured the attention of another potential adopter: this individual was a trucker, mature, who traveled from Iowa to Texas on his route and really wanted to adopt Outlaw as a traveling companion and best friend. He drove his rig down to the foster home to meet the rescuer, and by all reports "seemed" like a nice guy, But ... appearances can be deceiving. Thankfully, the Texas rescuer had microchipped Outlaw, and insisted on keeping her contact information on the chip. Was she shocked and surprised when she got a call from the Jasper County shelter in the fall of 2015 - that's Jasper County IOWA - about a year after Outlaw's adoption, reporting that they had Outlaw. She immediately contacted his adopter, and this was no small feat - because ALL of his phone numbers which he had give the Texas rescue had been disconnected. Her original information on him was that he lived more than 50 miles from Jasper County Iowa so it was a mystery how Outlaw ended up at that Shelter. The Texas rescue tracked Outlaw's adopter down by extensive sleuthing through Google, locating his ex mother-in-law ultimately, who had nothing nice to say about the man, but who did give her his daughter's phone number. Leaving a message with the daughter of Outlaw's adopter, finally got the man to contact the rescue.

Outlaw today at Home for Life
He claimed that he had asked a friend to care for the dog, and apparently Outlaw had gotten away, and turned up at the shelter. But wait - there was a young man who had come to the shelter - NOT the trucker - claiming that Outlaw belonged to him, and with him he had Outlaw's vet records in hand, from yet another owner. (3 owners in play at this point) What?! 'The rescuer got busy making calls and asking questions - starting with Outlaw's adopter - and after the shelter talked with the young man who lived at home with his mom and was all of 21 years old (with 2 kids and a girlfriend) - the true story emerged: the trucker had sold Outlaw for $50 to a woman he knew, who in turn sold Outlaw, again for $50 to the young man. Outlaw escaped or wandered away from the young man's home. The Texas rescue director called and confronted Outlaw's adopter - the 50 year old trucker - with this information - and when faced with his "sale" of Outlaw and his lies, he hung up on her.

The Texas rescue, K911, was now out of business but nonetheless, Mary told the shelter she would take Outlaw back into her home and even offered to come to Iowa to get him. But the shelter had no recourse but to return the dog - the young guy's "property" - to him since he could prove the dog belonged to him.

Outlaw when received by Home for Life
When Mary of the Texas Rescue sent us the photos of Outlaw taken when she accepted him into her rescue from the Mesquite Texas shelter, it hurt the heart to see what he once looked like and compare it to the condition he was in when Home for Life received him - 9 placements and just over two years later.  (See the YouTube video from  the Texas shelter when Outlaw was admitted below:

Texas shelter youtube video of Outlaw below:

and More photos: )

It also hurts that he was abandoned to the fates with nothing but a bucket, and it was so hard to see the comments from Mary and the Mesquite, Texas shelter staff at the time of his surrender and their hope that he would be such a great adoption prospect and even excel in agility - and then to know what he went through and suffered - and through no fault of his own, given away again and again like a secondhand pair of shoes, or an old car.

Within a few months, in May of 2016, Outlaw was back at the shelter - this time because the young man's own mother turned him in - because the guy simply could not or would not take care of Outlaw. But now the dog was in terrible condition, emaciated, bony with a pot belly, It was
assumed sheer neglect was the reason, but veterinary work up revealed that Outlaw was an uncontrolled diabetic.

Unfortunately, the shelter's veterinarian was unsuccessful in getting Outlaw's blood sugars under control, and he became blind as a result of the uncontrolled diabetes. The rescuer, Mary of K911, now retired and not in business still faithfully sent contributions to Jasper County Animal Rescue to help with his care.

With the number of failed adoptions this dog has been through, passed around from Texas to Arkansas, back to Texas and to Iowa, sold (twice!) for what dinner for 2 at Perkins would cost, and now in frail health, the shelter in Jasper, Iowa asked Home for Life to help him. We spoke to Mary from the rescue in Texas shortly after Outlaw came to Home for Life to update her on his condition, and she is the source of his story up to the time he landed in the Jasper County Animal Rescue. She and everyone at Jasper County couldn't say enough about what a great dog Outlaw is - everyone is heartbroken about how this good dog has somehow fallen through the cracks again and again in his short life, and happy that he will now have a chance to have the home for life he has always deserved.

UPDATE:  Outlaw's diabetes is now well on its way to being controlled: he is on the correct insulin - Humelin N - and dose - 16 units twice a day.  We had a setback a few weeks into his rehabilitation at Home for Life, when it was discovered that he not only had hook worms, but also EPI and SIBO - Exocrine Pancreatic Deficiency and Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. No wonder he could not gain weight! We got to work with treatments for the worms and for the EPI and SIBO - both the diabetes and the EPI are chronic conditions for which Outlaw can be treated but never cured. But the hook worms and SIBO - can be addressed through worming and antibiotics and resolved. Just a month after arriving at Home for Life, Outlaw has gained over 8 pounds, and looks and feels like a new dog. He is on his insulin twice a day, and his blood sugar levels have stabilized. This care, along with enzymes and special food for the pancreatic insufficiency has restored his energy and happiness! Although Outlaw is still blind as a result of his diabetes, we hope to be able to obtain cataract surgery for him with a veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital.

Above Outlaw playing with his bucket -- taken October 5, 2016,
30 days after coming to Home for Life

The before and after photos tell the tale - about how Outlaw was failed again and again by an animal welfare system which relies exclusively on adoption for all animals entering shelters and rescues. Nine placements and little more than two years after Outlaw was surrendered to a shelter by his elderly, dying owner, this young dog with personality and energy was left sick, blind and near death. Not every dog or cat will find a safe landing offered for sale - adoption - through the conventional animal rescue model, as Outlaw's story illustrates. Home for Life, a care for life sanctuary, operates outside of the marketplace paradigm, where animals are treated like standard consumer goods to be bought and sold. For our special dogs and cats, Home for Life offers a true home, where their health and faith in life are restored, where they are valued for the individuals they are, instead of the sale price they can garner, and where they will never be marketed, sold or given away again.