Last week the nation watched on pins and needles as a stranded dog was saved from drowning in the overflowing Los Angles River. Nature doesn't discriminate among those she affects, and thankfully, neither did the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The dog rescued in that brave effort has become known in the many follow-up stories in the media as Vernon, after the area where he was found. Over 1,000 people have inquired about adopting Vernon, who still remains unclaimed.
While I am truly heartened by the public outpouring of support for Vernon, my mind naturally drifts to the millions of "Vernons" whose lives are equally endangered on any given day in city shelters. Each has a story of his or her own, and each hopes to survive long enough to end up safe and happy. But without the kind of drama and attention like that surrounding Vernon’s plight, they don't have hundreds of potential adopters lining up to take action.
As I continued to catch clips of the rescues coverage, I was pleasantly surprised- and again proud- that in the reporting of this lucky guys rescue, the officials involved were also mindful of the many other shelter animals in need. They did not neglect to mention these other “Vernons” awaiting adoption and directed viewers to consider opening their hearts to one of them. I feel deeply grateful that these ‘public servants’ do in fact view L.A.’s 4-legged residents as among those they serve.
Vernon's story reminds me that there are many kindhearted people out there willing to help -- if only they could remain motivated to do so. How remarkable it would be if each of those 1,000 newly identified potential adopters would "airlift" just one of these worthy, needy souls into a loving new home. They are each desperately awaiting their own version of a 'river rescue.'
Dr. Pia Salk
P.S. Sadly, the follow-up stories also forced the fire fighters to defend their actions, as some people complained that city resources were "wasted" on a dog. I find this so very bizarre and tragic. Not only were no additional resources called in (beyond those already being funded), and no resources diverted from human protection, but the people complaining were watching the exact same story unfold as everyone else: a living, breathing, feeling creature in grave danger and visibly in fear for his life.
This response angered me initially, but that anger has quickly been replaced by sadness and pity for those who have likely never come to know the love of a furry friend.
The narrow focus and irrelevant arbitrary assessment of which lives are worth protection and which are not, only serves to divide. The connection we feel for our companion animals is one I know my readers understand well. If you feel moved, please vote in support of the firefighters' heroic efforts!
These beautiful dogs are all available for adoption!
"A1086713," Los Angeles (Enter A1086713 in search box)