Our shelter evaluators sometimes find German Shepherds in shelters that are in danger of immediate euthanasia, their only sin being that they are very old or terminally ill, with a projected life expectancy of only months to perhaps a year.  These dogs are basically unadoptable through the shelters, and most Rescues will not take them either.

The reasons that they are in the shelters are varied, ranging from perhaps understandable to completely incomprehensible.  We have dealt with a few cases that are truly tragic, with the families falling into financial difficulties so severe that they could not keep the dogs.  And occasionally the dogs outlive their owners, or witness the owners moving into permanent care facilities that do not permit dogs.

But the majority of cases just make our blood boil.  Some have been dumped by the side of the road and left to fend for themselves, and some picked up as strays and not claimed.  Some have been surrendered to the shelter with a request to euthanize, and others have been dumped in the night-boxes.

We brought one into the program that had been thrown into a drainage ditch, too weak to climb out, and had to be brought into the shelter on a stretcher.

We took in another that was 13 years old and had begun to dribble slightly.  The grandmother and the mother, both well off financially, decided that she was just too much trouble, and were taking her to the vet to be put down.  It was only the teenage daughter that simply would not let this happen, and she eventually contacted us.

These special German Shepherds include both young and old.  And their ‘sins’ include cancer, heart disease, severe degenerative myelopathy, severe hip displasia, near blindness, and simple old age.  All are tragic, but the seniors are the ones that really get to us–these dogs have been someone’s loyal companion for years, and are now just tossed out.

Whatever the reasons for the Thulani Dogs being in the shelters, the result is the same.  These dogs are at extremely high risk for immediate euthanasia, even though many have some quality life left to them.  A year might not seem very long, but it is nearly 10% of the average German Shepherd’s natural life.  And for many of these dogs, any quality life for however long will likely be among the best periods they have ever experienced.  If you don’t think that these dogs appreciate our care, just look at the comments by some of our fosterers (foster).