Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Buddy's journey from death row to rehabilitation...

Friday, July 24, 2009

I received a phone call from a member of The Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation. Of course I was excited to talk with her about our second annual fundraiser, and the opportunity to present the check in person at their offices. I have to admit, I became even more excited when she began to explain a situation regarding a dog in my area that needed help. A life needed saving.

She informed me that they had recently been contacted by Claudia Swing regarding a dog that was brought into the Devore Animal Shelter and was in desperate need of some serious help, and fast. They graciously referred me to Claudia and explained that I was located in the Inland Empire as well, and could possibly help her out.

I’d like to take a moment to thank them for having faith in me, and allowing me this wonderful opportunity. I am deeply honored, and look forward to working with this rehabilitation case.

Shortly after the phone conversation ended I received the call from Claudia Swing. She explained a little bit more about our rescue dog known as “Buddy.”

It seems that Buddy has spent many days, to many weeks on his own, and possibly months. Claudia found him in an open field, with no food or water as she witnessed young kids throwing things at him, and tormenting him. Scared, alone, hungry and thirsty she begins to start bringing him food and water to try and ease many of his discomforts. At first look, it is obvious that Buddy is not in good shape, and that is putting it lightly she explains.

As the days go by Claudia enlists the help of good friend Lori Gembella. Their hopes are to build trust through feeding and caring for Buddy so that they can bring him back to Claudia’s home, give him the much needed medical treatment, and perhaps locate his family, that is if he has a family. Regardless, it’s clear to them that Buddy is in really bad shape physically and emotionally, and help is needed desperately.

After a few days go by Claudia and Lori make a phone call to The Humane Society with hopes that they can assist getting Buddy to Claudia’s home. This is where the saga of Buddy begins. Sadly, it is not possible for the Officer to bring Buddy to Claudia’s home, and must instead transport Buddy to Animal Control. This is not a good thing for Buddy who is already extremely fearful, and was not able to even trust two woman with soft voices, and a warm heart, much less a stranger in a uniform with snare pole.

As I understand it, the Officer with the Humane Society deemed Buddy aggressive, and unfit for adoption. Ok, fair enough. This Officer has seen Buddy in an extremely unbalanced state of mind. They are to give an initial assessment, and this was it. Now, as we all know, given the correct circumstances, we can all become fearful and aggressive; so let’s see what’s in store for Buddy.

Buddy is fearful, he is scared, and he is defensive, he has been “captured” – in his mind of course, and he is being transported to a place that is less than pleasant on any level. Let’s also add that he has injuries, and is in pain. Enough to make any of us aggressive; let’s give Buddy a little bit of credit here, he’s doing what an animal would do.

This is not to point blame, or fingers to anyone at all. We are all in the animal care industry for that reason, because we care, and we are trying to make a difference. I think I can safely say, all directors of animal shelters, or humane societies, or the pound, whichever division you would like to refer to; I’m sure they are all in this to make life better for these animals, and to do the very best they can. I think we would all like to see “the pound” become a more pleasant place to visit, for the animals and us. I would just like to interject a bit here, and say realistically, we know this cannot happen overnight and takes a long time to see any progress, and they truly need our support. I would like to take this moment to thank everyone in this particular field for all of the good work that they do. We all know this is not the most pleasant, or glamorous side to helping animals, but those that work in shelters, sanctuaries, rescues, and the like work tirelessly, and usually do not get the credit they deserve. Please take a moment to thank someone the next time you are at the shelter, or working with a rescue. You will most certainly make their day, and they will truly appreciate it.

Now back to Buddy. So, he is brought to the Devore Animal Shelter, he’s fearful, he’s unhappy, he’s sick, and he’s aggressive. He is allowed to stay his allotted time, and he is also deemed unfit for adoption. Now, let me just paint a very small picture here, with Buddy, the shelter staff has apparently said he is not just a little bit unadoptable, but VERY MUCH unadoptable. At the time he is brought in he does have wounds that need to be addressed right away by a vet, but apparently this doggy is having nothing to do with being touched in the least, so you can imagine the difficulty the vet, or staff had when trying to examine him. This was not going to happen. Buddy was adamant about not even having a leash around his neck, and he was willing to stand his ground until the staff backed off. Just to be clear, I was not there during any of this, and I am simply recounting what has been told to me.

During this time Claudia and Lori believe whole-heartedly that Buddy is just fearful, and deserves a fighting chance. They begin to visit Buddy in the shelter daily, sometimes twice daily in order to feed him. It takes Buddy some time, but he begins to trust them and begins to eat from their hands. A loving bond begins. As the days continue there is something that tells these two women that they have to save Buddy. There is just a gut feeling that pulls at them, begging them to go back and do what ever it takes to release Buddy and bring him home. They begin their quest to adopt this lost rescue dog.

Now, as seen from the other side of the fence, the Devore Shelter is not so sure about Buddy’s ability to be released safely into the hands of the general public. Understanding it from their point of view, they have a dog that has been deemed extremely aggressive by several professionals, and most certainly not adoptable. It is their duty to keep the public safe from harms way.

So the question at this point becomes, “Is Buddy safe? Is he fit to be adopted to the general public? Is he a danger? Can the Shelter be held liable if they release him?” All very valid questions indeed, and thank goodness they are taking these things into consideration.

Just for a moment, try to see it from their position. Say they do let this dog go, he is released to these women who may have rescued many dogs, but they are not trainers nor behaviorists, and what if something does happen? What if the dog bites someone? Or attacks a child? Or another dog? And the Shelter knew he was aggressive? Can you just imagine the liability that comes along with such a decision? Most definitely a delicate situation to be in; I think we can all agree.

The pursuit of Buddy’s release begins. On one side you have two women who are bound and determined to save Buddy’s life. Without them he will surely be euthanized. On the other side, you have Animal Control unwilling to allow an aggressive dog to be released in to the general public. Both sides have great testimony and argument to back up their views. Buddy’s life hangs in the balance. I suppose “balance” will be a key theme throughout this blog. Pay attention, there just may be a quiz at the end!

Now this is where I come in, or at least in just a moment I come in to play. If I can recall correctly, Claudia, Lori, and Vikki (Loving Pet Rescue) begin a crusade to save Buddy. I’m told there are 100’s, yes HUNDREDS of emails, and phone calls made from around the county, to every major official you can think of (perhaps with the exception of President Obama? I will have to ask about that one just to be sure.), demanding that Buddy be set free. I have to hold back a little bit here as there is a part of this story that gets very political, lots of “he said, she said,” accusations, etc. I in fact was not a witness to any of the “behind the scenes” political debate, if that is what you want to call it, only privy to each person’s point of view and perspective at different points in time.

As we know, our reality is based on our individual perspective, and our perspective is based on our reality. Our reality as we know it, and our perspective as we know it is shaped by past and present experiences, current emotions, and so on. So, for more on that you can read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle ( along with his other works, as well as a book by Louise L. Hay ( entitled “You Can Heal Your Life.” Actually, anything you pick up by either one of them is going to become a life-changing event. Since I’m on the subject, let me also recommend anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer ( and “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne (

Ah yes, back to saving Buddy; back to my conversation with Claudia on Friday July 24th. To sum it up, it was a plea for help. Buddy is not aggressive and he deserves to live she says. She had contacted Last Chance for Animals, they had referred her to The Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, they made a few phone calls from what I gather, and bottom line, the Devore Animal Shelter taking counsel from their legal advisors can only release Buddy “through” a rescue organization “to” a qualified Trainer/Behaviorist. Claudia said I came highly recommended, and with her plea, here I am. This is where I come in to play.

There are times when you listen to all sides of a story, mull it over for a while, and then decide if you can play a part in that journey, or not. And there are times when it seems a dozen other things are running through your head and out pops, “Sure, I can help, when do you need me there?” Dare I say The Universe spoke through me?

Everything works out the way it should. As it happens, Friday July 24th was not only my Father’s birthday, but also my Grandfather who had just turned 90 years old less than 4 weeks earlier had a heart attack on this day. So, why all of this on one day? The same day? I don’t know, but I explained to Claudia that Saturday was a busy workday, and Sunday we would be spending the day with my Grandfather at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. As far as I knew Monday would be the first day I could begin my involvement. Perfect. This was the day Buddy was to be released. She would make the necessary calls, and all I had to do was show up Monday morning at 8:00 am, Buddy is released, and all is right with the world once again. Well, that’s what it seemed, and rarely is anything what it seems.


  1. Claudia found my blog and emailed me when she was feeding Buddy on the streets. When I suggested a trap, it was already too late because Animal Control had Buddy at Devore. I spoke with Claudia and Lori several times by phone and I immediately connected with them because of my own experience trapping and rehabilitating a street dog. Their experience could have been my own had things turned out differently for me. My friend (Sandra) found Vikki’s website and made the first contact July 23, my sons birthday. I went to dinner and when I returned I found Sandra’s email with a link to a website that spotlighted Devore. I wrote Vikki (Loving Pet Rescue) twice that night and learned the next day that Sandra reached out to Vikki as well. I also sent the link to Claudia who was distraught at the time thinking Buddy would be euthanized the next day. By the time I woke the next morning Vikki had asked for Buddy’s release to her through the Hayden Act. We now had a legal leg to stand on and began calling and emailing officials. I must add a Thank you to Vikki because she told us who we needed to contact locally. Obama was not contacted, but Ellen Degeneres, reporters, local and nationwide news were, however we received no response. I also posted to rescues and Pet forums. Those of us that initiated contact with officials (Claudia’s father included) will never know how many people called on Buddy’s behalf. Our hearts were in it because we were emotionally driven to help two women that desperately needed our support. We only knew what we were told and our only insight into Devore stemmed from what we read online. In addition, we were under the impression, just as Lori and Claudia were, that Buddy’s aggressive behavior was due to his capture and the methods used by animal control. I can relate to the LOA in Buddy’s case because what I thought about I intended to bring about. With the help of friends Buddy is free today, but it took diligent effort on everyone’s part. I must add because I study the stars; As above, so below. The stars were aligned perfectly for his release on Monday. There is a reason for everything and a lesson in every experience. On to more posts, I’m anxious to read more about Buddy today and in the weeks ahead. He is after all my fur friend that lives over two thousand miles away.

  2. Wow! Thank you so very much for sharing this with all of us. I'm not exactly sure why, but tears flowed when reading this. You are absolutely correct, "What you think about, you bring about." It truly is the power of intention.

    Here is yet one more "Thank You" to Vickki and everyone that helped Buddy continue his journey here on our planet.

    "As above, So below." For those of you who do not feel that resonate within you yet, it will. Here is another place you can start:

    Thank you Canine Crusader for sharing your true positive power of intention with all of us. You were my Thursday morning gift! :)

    Jen Freilich


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