Recuse Corner: How to save a life

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Their stories are the ones that don’t usually get told…
In rescue we see more tragedy than any soul should have to bear. My news feed on Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest alone will make even the most hardened soul weep, urgent death row dogs whose only crime was that they were born into an already overcrowded world were responsible is merely a word and humanity ignores the very real crisis that is literally happening in their own back yards…
I broke into the world of shelter rescue in 2012 ready to change the world….three and a half years later and many lessons learned the most important one I have learned is this…
Sometimes to SAVE that battered soul you have to break your own heart….
I have always been honest about the outcome of the lives of the dogs that we rescue. To paint a pretty picture is nice but reality is that sometimes they are broken, defeated, ill, and the only way to save them is to love them and help them leave this world behind.
The scars I bear on my heart and soul from the ones that have come through our care only to show me how that this will be their only salvation, are mine to bear and for giving them the peace they so desperately needed, I will live with those scars.

Jennifer Buck-Aikman
Jennifer Buck-Aikman

Let me give you a few numbers here and I am going to stay on the LOW side for you.

More than 5,000 healthy adoptable animals die every single day in US shelters.

(Remember this is bottom line numbers national average is actually higher!)

Of those more than half fit in the “pit bull type” category. So let’s say 3,000. Every single day…

Shelter typing groups the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier into the “pit bull type” category.

In the US there are approximately 5,000,000 registered “pit bull type” dogs followed by approximately 2,500,000 registered Chihuahuas. The numbers drop drastically from there. No coincidence that these two breeds are also the top two euthanized in shelters. The pit bull isn’t number one because they are some vile, vicious, demon dog as some would have you believe, they are the number one euthanized because they out number the nearest breed double in population. And that is ONLY registered dogs.

So let’s look at the numbers 1,825,000 healthy adoptable dogs are killed for space every year in US Shelters. (Remember this is the LOW estimate)
1,095,000 of them are “pit bull type” dogs.

I am asked to save roughly 50-100 dogs a day within a 100 mile radius of Erath County. When a spot is available we pull dogs from high kill city shelters and our local rural shelters that do euthanize as well but the urgency isn’t as great as it is usually in the more populated areas. There is always a dog that needs help getting to the next phase in their life.
I thought that coming to terms with the FACT, that until we as Humans start being responsible for our selfishness and greed and laws are put in place Nationwide that regulate breeding and spaying and neutering every single day healthy adoptable dogs will die, was the hardest REALITY I would have to grasp in the rescue world.

Then I met Chevy..February 2014…he came across my news feed just like they all do…the shelter dogs…the pit bulls because that’s what I do…I save them. The fear was in there in his eyes his life had not been what it should have been…
His story is one that still makes me cry…it can be read in its entirety as can all of the dogs in this column on our Angels & Outlaws Second Chance Bully Ranch Facebook page. To put the whole story of each one in here would be too much. But I will give you a brief bit.
He passed all of the temperament test Heather have him at the shelter and from what we had been told we were surprised. She took him home and when he met her husband his entire demeanour shifted. As time went on and his story began to unfold he felt an inherent need to protect her and children from what he viewed as the threat…the man. We don’t know what happened to him in life or where he came from but from what he showed us a man broke his soul. Given the chance he would attack and seriously injure or kill a man…there was no doubt in our minds. Human aggression should not be tolerated in any breed but since this is the most sensationalized breed in the world it is one I will not waiver on at all. To try to rehab a soul that is that broken lets one that is whole die in the shelter there is a trust placed in us to adopt out dogs that are true ambassadors for this breed and to truly change the fate of this breed by being transparent. It does no good to tout the good and sweep the bad under the rug. With the help of our amazing vet Dr. Cannon we loved Chevy until his last breath in Heathers arms.
Marilyn….March 2014…
Her story was almost the end of my rescue…when I buried four dogs and was nursing two back to health mentally and physically that day I wanted to walk away from my Destiny. She was a stray in every sense of the word. Two weeks prior to her rampage I knew I needed to euthanize her and I let my heart convince my brain that I was wrong…I will regret that choice for the rest of my life. That day ended with me crying and holding her as she was euthanized after killing three dogs and injuring two at my house…she gave up on me…
Ranger whom we kept in care for nine months….Bambi was with me for a year almost.
Coco…she is the reason for this column and also the reason I didn’t submit one last week. She was here in the Erath County Humane Society…her eyes haunted me. I sent out a plea and it was seen by 20,000 people in two hours. She was 9-10 years old and showed me a stop on a dime aggression with a boxer puppy that got me bit for the first time since I started this rescue and left me asking the question once again…
What does it mean to TRULY SAVE them?
Living in a kennel with a couple of hours out each day and minimal human interaction? Well they are alive right? Right??
The “pit bull type” dogs have a lot more than their blocky heads, stout physique, goofy personalities, and terrier tenacity in common. They thrive on human interaction and contact. It is a huge part of what makes this breed who they are the almost human like qualities that they posses. With out you…they aren’t whole. So I made another choice that marked my soul….
Just like those before her I shared her story. I had one comment on one story out of all of those that brought me to tears on top of the the tears I was already crying…

That comment:

“They’re murderers in plain English”

She called me a murderer…
So I ask you
“How would you SAVE a life?”

Jennifer Buck-Aikman is the Founder and President of Angels & Outlaws Second Chance Bully Ranch here in Erath County. She is a member of the SHS Class of 1996 and a lifelong member of the community. She believes that to truly Rescue means to work together no boundaries, no drama, just saving lives! To further discuss Rescue Corner, email her at

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