All who have been involved with the Ozzy saga — the story of a black Lab whose family gave him up to an animal shelter — can agree on one thing: The important outcome is that Ozzy will be placed with someone who is eager and able to care for him.
But the story leading up to that conclusion isn’t so happy. And some of the lessons to take away from a very public, very unpleasant dispute, are tough ones.
Julia Hildreth, her husband and four children didn’t want to get rid of Ozzy. But the eight-year-old Lab wasn’t getting the attention he needed, and the family finally decided to surrender him to a shelter.
Shortly before dropping him at the Charleston Animal Society shelter, Mrs. Hildreth sent a message alerting Lowcountry Lab Rescue to what the family was doing in hopes they could help find him a new home.
The response she got was a stinging rebuke. Volunteer Amy Fabri contended that the Hildreths were being cavalier about their responsibilities as dog owners and their plans for Ozzy. She said, “The sad fact is that your dog will probably be euthanized and in the dumpster before you are out of the parking lot.”
Nobody was happy. The Hildreths were sad about giving up Ozzy and distressed by Ms. Fabri’s message.
Ms. Fabri, a fervent dog lover, couldn’t contain her anger at the idea of another Lab facing possible euthanasia when there were other options she thought were more appropriate.
San LeBoeuf, executive director of the Lowcountry Lab Rescue program, was frustrated because the public dialogue focused on Ms. Fabri’s email instead of on responsible treatment of pets.
And the animal-loving staff and volunteers at the Charleston Animal Society were hurt and stunned by Ms. Fabri’s misleading statements. The CAS finds homes for 63 percent of the thousands of animals they receive. Those that are euthanized, because there are no other choices, are treated with tender respect. And their remains would never be tossed in a dumpster.
Unlike Lowcountry Lab Rescue, which is limited in the animals it accepts, the CAS takes all that come their way.
The staff is proud of CAS’ reputation as a leading animal shelter in the state. They were dismayed that it might be unfairly and inaccurately sullied.
They were concerned that people who can no longer keep their pets might just drop them in the woods instead of at a shelter or with a rescue organization. Donors to the Charleston Animal Shelter might withhold support.
In a perfect world, every pet would have an owner for life — a loving one who provides good care.
But in reality, that doesn’t always happen, just as many marriages and friendships don’t last forever.
No one should adopt a pet without intending to keep and care for it for life.
But people in the business of saving animals also deal with humans whose circumstances change. Those people need kindness just the way the pets do that come into the care of a rescue organization.