Saturday, May 8, 2010

No good deed goes unpunished

The story I'm going to tell I got from someone in the group I'll designate 1st Rescue. It's important for context, I think, to understand that 1st Rescue is funded entirely out of the pockets of its active members, no outside source of funds. I should also note that this is not a tale from this or any other New England state.

A man with a very senior position in a large company has no dog because he travels too much on business and can't provide a stable long-term home. However, a young male dog wanders up to his house, clearly in need of help, and he takes the dog in, with the intention of finding a new home for it. He consults a person from 1st Rescue for advice, but after a month no new home has been found, and he really can't keep this dog long-term, because of his business travel.

So 1st Rescue takes the dog, has him vetted (shots and neuter), and subsequently transfers him to 2nd Rescue, which for various reasons is better equipped to place this particular dog. (Rescues tend to have specialties.) 2nd Rescue reimburses 1st Rescue for half the vet bill.

1st Rescue then approaches the man, the original rescuer, and asks him to pay the other half of the bill. 1st Rescue is astonished when the original rescuer is offended by the request.

Person from 1st Rescue then posts the story on a pet forum that shall remain nameless. 1st Rescue person also includes, for contrast, the case of a woman in a much more junior position in the same company, who found a dog and had a yard sale to help pay that' dog's "largish" vet bill.

Person from 1st Rescue proceeds to speculate about whether this is a "guy thing" or a result of the fact that people who are better off have no idea what it's like to struggle with bills and make ends meet, while people who are more precarious economically do understand this and are naturally more generous. In the subsequent discussion, essentially all of the comments discuss which of these is more likely the cause, with the weight of opinion running in favor of the man's "problem" being that he's too well off to understand about paying bills.

Plus, of course, the added observation that he clearly has no idea how rescues work and thought his "problem" was solved when he "dumped" the dog.

Excuse me? "Dumped" ? This was not his dog, and he did not "dump" it; he rescued it, and after he was not able to find an adopting family himself, he got the dog into a rescue.

He's one of the good guys, going out of his way to help a dog even though he's not in a position to adopt a dog himself. Yet he's the subject of hand-wringing over how he could be so shallow as to be offended when asked to reimburse 1st Rescue for the other half of the dog's vet expenses. Certainly it would have been good of him to do so. Certainly it seems likely that it would be no financial hardship for him to do so. But he's one of the rescuers, the first rescuer in this case, the one that made it possible for this dog to have a chance--and he's being talked about as having "dumped" the dog, and tsk-tsked over because he didn't pay the vet bills incurred after the dog left his care, on top of having cared for the dog for a month prior to1st Rescue taking him.

Shouldn't we be celebrating his generosity and willingness to take action?