One of the toughest tasks facing animal shelter employees is when pets have to be put down. While it seems immeasurably cruel, particularly as the people who work at these facilities are among the most loyal supporters of animals, there are firm constraints on how many pets can be housed there.
Such was the case at the Ozark City Animal Shelter in Alabama, when a four-year old mixed-breed male dog was scheduled to be put down after failing to find a new family within the allocated time.
The case was all the more sad because he’d been brought to the center after being hit by a car, and had only just recovered from that incident.
However, the rules are the rules, and the veterinarian at the center carried out the task of injecting the dog – who was unnamed at that time – with the chemical designed to put him to sleep. The dog was quiet and unresponsive after the procedure, as expected, and was returned to his pen to die in peace.
The next day, after staff arrived at the center, they were shocked to find the dog was up and about, wandering around and apparently unaffected by the ‘lethal’ injection.
“It was as though he’d died and come back to life,” said one of the center staff who spoke to local journalists. “I truly believe it is a miracle. In my years of working here I have not once seen an animal survive an attempt to put them down.”
Staff of the shelter were stunned and gave the dog the name ‘Lazarus’, a biblical reference to the man that Jesus brought back to life. “After he’d survived one euthanasia attempt, we were hesistant to carry out another,” said the staff members. “However, the rules are the rules, and we could only offer Lazarus a temporary reprieve before trying again, miracle or not miracle.”
After already surviving being hit by a car, and one failed attempt to be put down, it looked like the luck of little Lazarus was about to run out. However, after the shelter posted his story on Facebook, a third miracle would come true. A family from Birmingham had read about the plight of the miracle dog, and decided to adopt him, despite living over 150 miles away.
Staff at the shelter were absolutely delighted with this turn of events, and were thrilled that Lazarus had cheated death for the third time. “He may not be the most handsome or cute dog, but there’s a certain sense of pride and loyalty in him” said a staff member. “We know that he’ll be a very good addition to the family.”
Meanwhile, animal experts have speculated about what could have helped Lazarus survive the lethal injection. Some veterinarians believe that needle that was used in the injection may have missed the intended vein, causing some ill effects but stopping short of fatal consequences. “Whatever the case, he is one lucky pup!” said one animal expert.
The family that have adopted Lazarus have reported that he’s been doing great since arriving at their home, where he’s made a new friend: another rescue dog, named Tucker. According to his new family, Lazarus enjoys playing tug-of-war with Tucker in the backyard, and has made a complete recovery from the wounds he sustained in the car accident that originally saw him sent to the shelter.
“The case of Lazarus is one of those happy stories that we wish could happen to all the rescue pets that come into our center,” said the staff member. “Unfortunately, for every case like Lazarus, there are hundreds of others that don’t end so happily. With Christmas approaching, it’s a timely reminder to anyone considering buying a cat or dog that these animals come with great responsibilities. If you aren’t capable of giving them a loving home and caring for them for their entire life – up to 20 years in some cases – then we strongly urge the public to reconsider.”