By Michele C. Hollow, Pet News and Views
The photo of an undernourished Bichon almost jumped off the page of the Small Paws Rescue newsletter. Bev VanZant has a soft spot for Bichons. She lived with a Bichon named Bailey for several years and was deeply saddened when she passed. This photo of a Bichon, named Tyler, hit a nerve.
“It was his shelter intake photo and he looked terribly sick,” says Bev. “Tyler was found on the streets of Phoenix, and he had Parvo, which meant he was on death row at the shelter. (Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system. It causes dogs and puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids.) Someone at the shelter knew about Small Paws and called the regional Team Leader. He picked up the puppies and got them to a veterinarian.”
Bev, who lives in Ohio, was heading to California on a business trip. She thought she could stop in Phoenix on her way home to pick up Tyler. Tyler’s foster mom brought him to Bev at the airport hotel. “He was heartbreakingly underweight,” she says.
Tyler and Bev spent the afternoon and evening getting to know one another. “I didn’t sleep much that night,” she says. “I watched over him to make sure he was comfortable; plus we had to leave the hotel at 3 a.m. in order to check in for our flight. We flew from Phoenix to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Dayton. I learned on this trip that once you pass through security, you’re not permitted to take your dog out of its carrier, except if you can find a family restroom. Tyler and I spent nearly all of our Atlanta layover in a family restroom. I was able to let him out of his carrier, feed him, play with him and give him an opportunity to potty. We stayed in there until someone knocked on the door wanting to use the facilities!”
The Adoption Process
Everything went smoothly. Small Paws asked to interview Bev’s veterinarian. Bev had to sign a contract stating that if she could no longer take care of Tyler, he will be returned to Small Paws.
“I appreciate that Small Paws Rescue is caring enough to want to ensure a good life for every pooch that they rescue,” she says. “I also had to sign a statement that I would get Tyler neutered at 6 months of age. I’m a firm believer in spay/neuter. And they checked in with me when it was time for the neuter to happen. They required that my vet fax a statement to them confirming the neuter. I know some people might think that’s excessive, but I don’t. I understand the responsibility that the Small Paws organization feels for the dogs that they rescue.”
Bev loves the breed because she says they were created to be companions—not to hunt or guard or do any other kind of work. She also likes that they don’t shed. “I took one look at that beautiful Bichon face—with its dark eyes and black button nose,” she says. It was love at first sight.
Helping Small Paws Rescue
For the past three years, Bev organized online fundraisers on her blog to help Small Paws. She is hosting another fundraiser that ends March 31. This time she is giving away four flat pets. To see a flat pet, click here. Blogger Karen Nichols is also contributing one of her amazing pet portraits, which you can see here.
Each breed has a rescue organization for their breed. Small Paws Rescue has over 800 volunteers and more than 6,000 members in 26 countries. They have rescued more than 8,000 Bichons in the past 12 years from across the country. To help Bev, Small Paws, and these beautiful dogs, click here.
Author’s Note: You can still enter Pet News and Views contest to win a free CD of country music songs for dog lovers. Click here for details.
Michele C. Hollow writes the animal welfare blog Pet News and Views.