ARF: Rescuing With Our Hearts, No Dog Left Behind

by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month. You can learn more about them on their website.

“You rescued me when I thought nobody would. When I thought I wasn't worth the effort. You gave me everything and asked for nothing.”
― Charles Martin, Thunder and Rain

animal rescue
Pixie, an ARF rescue mentioned later in this article
So it’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and you head out the door to Target for a quick shopping trip. With just a few items on your list, you plan on getting in and out within a half hour. After all, you have that 2:00 birthday party for Aunt Maude. You need toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, milk, and yogurt. But you make the one critical mistake that every Target shopper makes; you don’t stick to the list. Instead, you wander the aisles. Oh no. You find the Cottonelle and Crest Complete, but hey, is that Waterpik on sale? And look, that French Bulldog cookie jar would be a great gift for Aunt Maude, but what color? Hmmm, we’ll mull it over. You locate the Almond Breeze and Activia, but are distracted by the Klondike bars. You grab some Pantene, but the cosmetics are right around the corner, and you sure could use some new mascara. Dang, you forgot about laundry soap. Uh oh, you smell Cookie Dough candles, and spy some adorable poinsettia placemats. Before you know it, you’ve spent $273 in the pine-scented holiday section, and you still don’t have any Tide. Running out of time, you race home to wrap that birthday present and wait, oh no, you forgot the cookie jar! Oh well, I’m sure Aunt Maude will be thrilled with her new placemats…

➡ switch to for this week's issue ⬅

This is the same scenario that greets ARF volunteers when selecting dogs for adoption from local shelters. Armed with our list, we head out to pick up the lucky few. We are on a mission, and we have come for six dogs and six dogs only. One terrified Terrier…check. A large lonely Lab mix…check. One scared Shitzu…check. A Dachshund, a Min-pin, and one slobbery St. Bernard. Fortunately, for the multitude of remaining dogs, we rarely stick to our list. We’re almost home free, when suddenly, there he is, a cherry-eyed Chihuahua. And what’s down this aisle…a Maltese with a case of mange? A beagle with a broken leg? Well, so much for this list…guess we’re gonna need a bigger van. This is what happens when you throw all caution to the wind, and rescue with your heart instead of your wallet. It would be easy to turn a blind eye to dogs that are suffering. It would be easy to say we just don’t have the room or the finances to care for a dog in serious trouble. But it wouldn’t be easy to sleep at night, thinking of that one frightened face. That being said, we sometimes forget that we’re a rescue which is solely funded by the kindness of strangers and longtime supporters, and not by a steel safe stacked with hundred dollar bills. C’mon, everyone knows we use those for Vienna Sausages...

animal rescue
Recently, we have welcomed several dogs to ARF who are in need of some extra TLC. That includes major surgery, medications, and being quarantined in the office for several weeks or months. I can assure you, NONE of them like being cooped up in a kennel for that long, and they will definitely let you know it. You’d think they were in some sort of medieval torture chamber, where being treated like spoiled royalty is something that really sucks. Howl! Why am I stuck in this nice comfy crate with toys and cookies? Why am I getting special snacks and attention? Noooooo! What is this madness? I can’t take these extra hugs and kisses much longer! Wait, is that a piece of cheese? Insert eyeroll here. For a young dog like Achilles, a Shih Tzu with tons of energy, nothing could be worse than staring through what must seem like the bars of a jail cell. Achilles had a large mass removed from under his chin, and a drainage tube inserted for all the bad stuff to come out. Lots of bad stuff. But he made a complete recovery and after a few weeks, was back out in the yard chasing his favorite ball around. The cost for a procedure like Achilles had isn’t cheap, and the vet estimate was around $330. The one and only free thing? The vigilance of a couple volunteers who actually found the mass and reported their discovery. That, my friends, is worth all the gold in Fort Knox.

animal rescue
Another dog who came in with medical issues was Jasper, a chestnut Chihuahua mix with gigantic ears that stand at attention like two toy soldiers. Jasper came in with a couple of damaged hips, and eventually had to get one of his back legs removed. For Jasper’s surgery, the vet estimate was around $425. Ouch. He’s been doing great in the office, except that he constantly wants out of his kennel. So, we take Jasper out to potty, and he does, and twelve seconds later….he wants out again. Really? Do you need to pee again? I realize your bladder’s the size of a peanut, but c’mon. Oh, all right, but this is the last time. I guess you can’t blame them for being restless; I mean how exciting can it be to watch volunteers do laundry, wash dishes, and sweep the floors? Now that’s some exciting Cinderella stuff. Considering the fact that Jasper used to get squirrelly with me at bedtime, I take it as a compliment that he now lets me pick him up for a cuddle. Either that, or he’s secretly plotting his escape over my shoulder...

animal rescue
For your sugar fix we have Licorice, a midnight black cutie, with a calm disposition. Black as a brownie, sweet as fudge sauce, Licorice is now sporting some pink and purple leg wraps. Licorice underwent surgery to have both of her back legs repaired because of a luxating patella, more commonly known as a dislocated kneecap. Yeah, it’s definitely no walk in the park, and neither was the vet estimate we received at just over $800. But that is definitely money well spent, just to see Licorice recovering so nicely, and taking strolls around the office on a leash. And unlike Achilles and Jasper, she quietly sits in her kennel, propped on a fuzzy bed, surrounded by several squeaky toys. Licorice is one of those personable little dogs who just seems to love each and every person who snuggles with her. Especially if that person sneaks her a tiny chunk of scrambled egg when nobody’s looking…

animal rescue
I wish these were the only ARF dogs that require significant medical attention, but they aren’t. Take Clyde, for example, a delightful brindle puppy who was suffering from a prolapsed rectum. If you think it sounds horrible, it is, and I won’t go into great detail about it. After some delicate surgery, Clyde is doing much better now, and charming everyone around him. We also have Sweet Pea, a doe-eyed Terrier with a hernia, and Meiko and Juno, two salt and pepper Poodles in need of some major dental work. A third Poodle, Tinkerbelle, also underwent surgery to have several masses removed, to the tune of about $1,000. And let’s not forget Pixie, our tripod dog who was recently adopted to a wonderful family. Pixie came in with a severely damaged back leg, which eventually had to be removed. But after a triumphant recovery, she was all smiles and wagging tail, earning her the name of official ARF Mascot. And even though she had to undergo treatment for heartworm as well, Pixie remained as chipper and happy as ever.

animal rescue
If you’re wondering where we get the money to pay for so many medical issues, well, we’re still working on it. As a volunteer-only organization, we hold many fundraisers. On December 1, we’ll be holding our Holiday Open House, so come on by and check out the vendors, the goodies, and all the great raffle prizes. If you can, please bring a present for our doggies to leave under the tree. Even Santa will be there for some photobombing fun. If you can’t make the event, you can always visit our website to make a donation there, and even specify which dog you’d like to help Without your support, none of the aforementioned dogs would have a chance for a better life and a forever home. Now that’s something even the Grinch would agree with...

“It’s impossible, said pride. It’s risky, said experience. It’s pointless, said reason. Give it a try, whispered the heart.”
— Anonymous

Animal Rescue of Fresno is located at 4545 E Dakota in Fresno, CA

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. Learn more about ARF on their website.

Wendy Hunter has been volunteering with ARF for four years. She grew up in Fresno and recently became an Office Assistant with Fresno County. She has been writing all of her life, though never professionally, and currently writes personalized poetry for birthdays, weddings, pet remembrances, etc.