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Here for a Reason

One dog’s story should remind us to rally around all homeless animals, not just the ones with dramatic backgrounds

In Sulphur, Okla., last February, a puppy seemingly came back from the dead.

In doing so, he joined the ranks of the many animals who’ve briefly captured the public’s hearts after a dramatic rescue or a harrowing case of abuse. You know these stories: A cat, thrown out a window by a vindictive boyfriend. A dog dragged behind a truck, nursed back to health by caring clinic workers.

And every now and then—as in Sulphur—the drama starts at a shelter, when an animal survives a botched euthanasia.

These particular stories make shelter directors cringe, primarily at the thought of the animal’s suffering. They cringe, too, because the event typically means someone screwed up. Somewhere, a procedure wasn’t followed, and an animal had a traumatic and possibly painful experience. Then, of course, there’s the publicity, which can be a mixed blessing.

With a little publicity, an animal who’s lived through a dramatic ordeal will almost certainly find a home. In this age of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, these animals—the cat found yowling in a malfunctioning gas chamber, the dog who survives having been set on fire—often hit the Internet and media with the force of myth. They become celebrated icons of an indomitable will to survive, generating the kind of passion to adopt that shelter staff can usually only dream of gleaning for their animals.

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