BOOKS: Miracle Dog

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2005:

Miracle Dog
by Randy Grim
Alpine Publications
(P.O. Box 7027, Loveland, CO 80537), 2005. 120 pages, paperback. $19.95.

Quentin, a shelter dog, in August 2003 survived the St.
Louis Animal Regulation gas chamber, was adopted by Stray Rescue
founder Randy Grim, and became an icon of the no-kill movement.
Grim himself became a icon of the no-kill movement about a
year earlier, through the publication of a biography, The man who
talks to dogs, by Melinda Roth.
In Miracle Dog, Grim tells his own story. Like our
colleague Cicely Blumberg, here in Cape Town, South Africa, Grim
devotes his life to helping orphaned, injured, and lost dogs in the
bad parts of town.
Among the most telling parts of Miracle Dog are Grim’s observations
of how people reacted to Quentin’s sudden celebrity status. Grim
recounts that 700 people wrote to him offering to take Quentin for
adoption. When they were told, “Sorry, he is staying with
me, but won’t you please save another dog from the gas chamber,”
there were no takers.

Writing from their homes, the letter-writers could say “No”
more easily than the small army of people who lined up for hours at
the North Shore Animal League in 1996 to try to adopt Scarlet the cat
and her surviving kittens, after Scarlet rescued the kittens one by
one from a blazing building. Hundreds of other animals were adopted
by the people who came for Scarlet and her kittens, but were
persuaded, as much by the homeless animals as anyone else, to take
others in need.
When Randy and Quentin flew to New York City to appear on NBC
with host John Walsh, a stretch limo was waiting for them.
“We could sure use the money the limo cost to support more
dogs at the shelter,” Grim says–though the limo might have been the
least costly way to get him to the studio on time in a city where
many cabs do not carry animals.
“Two weeks ago,” Grim writes, “nobody on this earth gave a
damn about this beyond-lovable little guy. Now his arrival at the
airport merits Fox News coverage.”
Grim exposes other anomalies in shelter rescue: the
hostility of many animal control officers to the no-kill movement,
the often callous indifference at official levels toward animal
suffering, and how the Humane Society of Missouri, once among the
more progressive humane organizations in the U.S., under the present
administration refuses to cooperate with local no-kill humane
societies to apply for a Maddie’s Fund grant that would help the St.
Louis area transition to no-kill animal control.
On the appalling condition of typical animal shelters, he
quotes ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton: “If you keep dogs and
cats in a facility that looks like a jail and smells like a cesspool,
dogs and cats all over town will be treated like prisoners on a chain
gang, because the condition of your facility sends the message that
you think this is okay. If you treat dogs and cats as if they are
honored guests, the community standards will rise to your standard.
This has been proven time and again.”
Grim ends with a passionate plea for cities to adopt no-kill
policies. “No-kill promotes educational programs, spay and neuter
programs for the poor, progressive adoption events, and, most
importantly, community involvement and
hope. I am often asked what one person can do,” Grim summarizes.
“My answer is: a lot. A story like Quentin’s should compel all
animal lovers to unite and work toward one common goal–to stop the
Grim emphasizes that dogs are not just throwaway items: they
are all potential Quentins, who deserve love and loyalty.
–Chris Mercer & Bev Pervan

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