Yvette Holzbach regularly visits the streets of Houston, Texas to leave out food for stray dogs through her rescue Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project. That’s where she came across a street dog curled up with an old toy and took a picture.
Photo credit: Yvette Holzbach / Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project
“When I first saw this dog lying on this tattered and torn soft toy my first reaction was ‘oh how cute is that’,” she says on Facebook. “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?”
“I took this picture a few months back. To be honest, today is the first time I have gone back to look at the picture. It was truly one of the saddest sights I have seen in the 5th Ward.”
Holzbach explains that she didn’t rescue the dog that day because they didn’t have the space or the fosters. Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project is a small rescue organization made up of volunteers and rely on foster homes to take in the dogs they find. “As one of the feeders we are always faced with the dilemma of deciding which dog to send out a plea of help for,” she writes. “This dog absolutely broke my heart but it a dog that was in relatively good shape and unfortunately, the sad truth is, a dog in this condition would be much harder to find a foster for than any others we find in worse shape. We can feed up to 50 dogs in one day. Out of those, we are lucky if we rescue just one because fosters are so hard to come by.”
After seeing the dog’s picture again, she knew she wanted to go back and look for him, even though he’s just one of thousands of dogs that she sees every year. Forgotten Dogs of the 5th Ward Project has been rescuing dogs for the last 4 years and has saved close to 1000 dogs off the streets. They go out every week to feed the strays and rescue as many as they can. “Some of the dogs we rescue are in such bad shape that we have no other option but to put them to sleep,” says Holzbach. “Our only comfort at times like that is the fact that the dog did not die alone on the street. Some days we can feed as many as 50 dogs.”
As for the dog in the heartbreaking photo, she hasn’t found him yet. But Holzbach and others from Forgotten Dogs are out looking for him. In the meantime, the rescue group asks that if you are interested in fostering this dog or others like him, please visit their website and apply to join them.
“It is the hardest thing in the world for us to leave dogs like his behind so please don’t judge us. We are a small group of volunteers who are just trying to do the very best we can with what we have,” Holzbach writes.
“This dog, without a doubt, depicts the plight of the dogs in our city,” says Holzbach on Forgotten Dogs Facebook page. “A solution needs to be found and the best way that any of you can begin to help is by fostering. We are in desperate need of dedicated fosters so we can get dogs like this off the street. No dog should have to live like this. If there is anyone that does not quite 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.”
She adds that as dire as the situation is for stray dogs in Houston, fostering, without a doubt, saves lives!
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