A note of gratitude to Herb and Karen Baum of Jupiter, Fl., and Furry Friends.
It’s not every day a girl like myself (an independent rescuer, with a limited budget, working to help Miami’s sick and abandoned stray dogs and cats) gets a call that changes the fate of the voiceless!
Last week I had three emergency placements I needed to find immediate homes for. A 13 year old cat named Constantine, whose father’s home was foreclosed on, and as a result he had no choice but to leave the country. A sweet black dog named Emma, who was rescued by a Good Samaritan off the streets deep within the slums of Miami. Emma’s foster mom meant well. However, her landlord threatened to throw out not only Emma and her foster mom, but also the other dogs residing in the home.
As if finding a home for a senior cat, and a black mutt is not challenging to begin with, I then received a call about a bull/pit mix. Her mother makes it a habit to change up dogs every couple of years. This time the reason she was giving Maya away is because her new boyfriend did not care for, and had never really felt any affection for her. The only problem, Maya was due to be given away to a home that would present a danger to her (on many levels).
What was I to do? I didn’t have many options. So I sent out an email blast about all three of these angels. One day passed, nothing. The second day passed, nada! I only had 72 hours to work with, or these dogs would end up tied to a tree in someone’s yard or worse. 72 hours passed and I received the most incredible phone call. I answer my phone, and Karen Baum of Jupiter, Florida, is on the other line. Karen introduced herself, and tells me that her husband, Herb Baum, intimated that they would not only help me with Constantine the senior cat, and the not so pretty black little mutt, Emma— but that a possible solution (made possible by a very generous offer) would be found for Maya. Ugggh!! I was jumping up from joy (though Karen I’m sure had no idea, as I was trying to remain composed throughout our conversation).
As the conversation continues, Karen explains to me that her husband, Herb, is affiliated with Furry Friends in Jupiter, Fl. I had no idea that Furry Friends was the former Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary. Let me preface by writing this— I AM NOT a fan of most no-kill shelters. I don’t believe that keeping an animal locked inside of a cage (barring the 3 times a day of bathroom walks) is a life for any being. There’s no quality there. Not physical. Not mental, and not emotional. In fact, I think it breaks their spirit. I have a pretty pragmatic view on euthanasia that many of my fellow rescuers don’t agree with, or absolutely detest! Anyhoo.. I digress!
About 9 years ago I had my first encounter with Safe Harbor. I was involved in rescue work (deep within the trenches) in New Orleans, right after Katrina obliterated most of the city. Collectively, myself, and several other volunteers rescued close to 1,000 dogs and cats. We had dozens of dogs with us each day, and no where to take them. A group of gals contacted my mother after seeing me on the news, and offered to drive up from Jupiter to pick up some of these dogs. I had never heard of Safe Harbor prior to this. I had no idea where the dogs were being shipped off to, but once I met the girls I was more at east. There was one gal I met, and my instincts told me that if she was involved I should trust them and allow the dogs to be released to their care. After all, beggars can’t be choosers. I was in the middle of Armageddon with more dogs and cats (and horses) that I knew what do with.
To cut a long story short– I was grateful to Safe Harbor. They not only bailed me out with my rescue efforts in New Orleans, but once again, a year later. Before I go on, it’s important to note that I have tremendous trepidation with sending off dogs and cats to rescue organizations which I have not visited or checked out first. I have made a lot of mistakes in my 18 years of rescuing pets, and only experience has taught me that things are not what they always appear to be.
A year after the Katrina rescues, I got stuck with a situation which left me mortified. A local rescuer was actually a hoarder, and had over 100 dogs that were in extremely poor condition. I called upon as many shelters as I could, and one of the gals at Safe Harbor had me bring several dogs up from Miami. When I arrived at Safe Harbor (my first time there) I felt conflicted. On the one hand I received a helping hand (by one of the employees, whom I later found out was fired because she tried to help us with the dogs in Miami), but on the other hand I felt abashed! Dogs were piled up in cages (though they were super clean), not kennels– cages! It felt very crowded. I still have a picture of the dense room piled with cages and dogs begging to get out. It was between leaving the dogs in an abusive situation in Miami, or appreciating the offer I had extended to me (regardless of the cage situation). Of course I left the dogs there. I had no choice. I have to emphasize, Safe Harbor was good to me– and extended some lifelines to my rescues. However, I never went back. I was convinced that if I take some of these dogs to a local shelter which I am a big fan of (and no, it’s not a no-kill shelter, and yes, they do humanely put dogs to sleep if they are sick or have behavioral issues), they were better off than being locked up for days on end (maybe for the duration of their lives) in cages big enough for them to stand up in, but not big enough for them to freely turn around or stretch their bodies!
So when Karen and Herb Baum extended their generous and NO STRINGS attached offer, I had a feeling things would be different this time. The tone of voice on the other line was one of kindness. A fine lady (in every sense of the word) who offered empathetic words, and supportive resources by Mr. Baum. Two days later I drove up with Constantine the cat, and Emma the not so attractive black mutt.
Upon my arrival at Furry Friends, I was greeted by a distinguished and warm lady– Karen Baum. Karen took me and my friend Susan on a tour of the Furry Friends facility. All I could think of was– these dogs and cats have reached doggie heaven on earth! The most incredible facility I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen quite a lot. I have volunteered throughout the country and abroad. Gone were the piled up cages (yes, they were always clean, but they should not have been long-term homes for many of the pets housed there)! Instead, large super clean kennels replaced them. The cat sanctuary (that’s what I call it) was amazing in its design, layout and space for the cats. The staff was friendly and greeted us with polite and appreciative gestures! I mean they were doing us a favor, yet made us feel completely at ease about it. Usually, organizations that take in animals from rescuers like myself are not very warm. In fact, there’s often something expected back in return.
Not this time!!!!!!!
Herb Baum, from the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank you for your generous heart. Your altruism. And for being a true angel to the voiceless. Karen (and forgive me for addressing you so informally), your benevolence transcends generosity! It translates into kindness and warmth that a complete stranger to you from Miami needed more than anything at the time you called!
Thank you both for being the guardian angels to the voiceless and powerless!
With deep appreciation,