Stray dogs are not an uncommon sight in the streets of Houston, but Yvette Holzbach is doing her best to change that. She spends days exploring the historical political district called the Fifth Ward, feeding dogs and trying to help them in any way she can.
A stray dog lying on the sidewalk, snuggling a teddy bear, caught her attention. She snapped a photo of it and posted it on Facebook. The image went viral, which prompted Holzbach to try to find out as much as she could about the animal.
“When I first saw this dog lying on this tattered and torn soft toy my first reaction was ‘Oh how cute is that. But then reality really sunk in once I started taking the picture. Here is a stray dog taking comfort in a worn out, discarded toy. How many of the dogs that we see are also thrown out on the street once they have served their purpose?”
Holzbach works for the Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward rescue organization. An article in Petcha describes how she went back to the place where she found the dog to try to find more information about it.
— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) March 24, 2016
During her search, Holzbach came across an 89-year-old man named Calvin, raking leaves. He admitted to her that the dog was one of his rescues. He was making efforts to rescue as many dogs as possible, having as many as 20 at once in his backyard. Calvin’s neighbors confirmed this, telling Holzbach that the man was often seen lugging 50-pound bags of dog food home from the store.
The “teddy bear dog” in the picture had been one of Calvin’s rescues. Despite his efforts to contain it, the dog frequently escaped from his yard.
Holzbach said she could tell by the painful reaction of the man that he missed the dog, and he loved it.
But the dog had disappeared.
Since the dog was not neutered, Holzbach thought it may have gone looking for a mate. Her return visits to the area did not produce the dog. Holzbach offered to take Calvin’s other three dogs and have them spayed and neutered, which he gratefully accepted.
Meanwhile, the photo was circulating the internet and stirring up a flaring controversy. Holzbach was blasted with criticism, according to Fox 2 Detroit. People wanted to know why she didn’t rescue the dog the first time she saw it.
“We can feed up to 50 stray dogs [daily]. Of those 50 dogs we are lucky if we are able to save one because…there are not enough foster homes. [To] understand what we are faced with we welcome you to do a ride along with us. You will be astounded at how many homeless dogs there are.”
Despite the efforts of the rescue group, the “Teddy Bear Dog” has not been found.
Holzbach said that Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward has a multitude of dogs available similar to the one in the photo with the teddy bear. This philosophy, by an anonymous writer, is posted on their web page:
“Rescuers, rescue supporters, and volunteers do not walk on water. We don’t wear capes and tights or leap tall buildings. We aren’t better than anyone else, but we do pursue a cause that we believe makes us better than before we started. We make mistakes; we feel we can’t do enough at home; we rant out in frustration; we lose our tempers and get snappy; we have to reject people sometimes for the good of a dog. We are not always likeable. What we do is draining, emotionally, financially and physically. Please bear with us and forgive us our flaws, because we are doing work that’s bigger than we are.”
[Image via David Robert Perez/Shutterstock]