“Do people really just take animals out in the middle of nowhere and leave them?” Sara asked.

"Do people really just take animals out in the middle of nowhere and leave them?" Sara asked.

I was a little surprised at her question, but then remembered that Sara and her fiancé live in Massachusetts. They saw Merlin's smile and story on Petfinder and were smitten. As I visited with Sara, she wanted to know how Merlin came to be part of Faithful Friends, so I explained that we thought he was an abandoned stray that was picked up by authorities after committing the crime of "herding" children. That prompted her question. I told her that we receive calls almost every day reporting abandoned dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. She was astonished.

We really do live in a unique area. When I moved to Neosho six years ago I quickly became aware that "animal abandonment" is a common occurrence in our area and that most people are not even surprised, but view it as commonplace or normal.

Why is it so common here? The only reason I can come up with is the fact that we have such a concentrated "supply." People do not value something that is easily attained, disposed of and replaced. There are areas of our country where low-cost spay and neuter programs have been implemented and laws enforced to such a degree that people are standing in line or have placed their names on waiting lists to adopt dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. With a decrease in availability comes an increase in their value.

Every week rescued animals are placed on transports here in Missouri and taken to other parts of the country where there are more homes waiting than animals to fill them. Most of us are as equally astonished to hear that fact, as Sara was to discover that people here actually just leave them on the side of the road.
Sara and her fiancé have an Australian Shepherd and would like to have another. They were not a bit deterred by the fact that they are in Massachusetts and Merlin is in southern Missouri. In fact, Sara's sister had adopted a dog that came to the northeast on a transport from just south of us in Arkansas. We agreed that Merlin wouldn't be a good candidate for a truck transport but we will explore other options if we decide Merlin is a perfect "match" for them.

I sometimes allow myself to imagine the day when Faithful Friends have a "waiting list." It is possible! With our new adoption center facility, we will offer even more animal care education to all ages, as well as a low-cost spay and neuter to this community.

Today we rescued an abandoned emaciated little Chihuahua who had been frantically running around an area in north Neosho for several days, starving, freezing and being chased by larger dogs. He had no identification and no one has been looking for him. The people who took pity on him and called us felt sure he'd been abandoned. They said it was a regular occurrence in their neighborhood. We just deposited little Rico into the safe and warm arms of some wonderful foster caregivers, where he will get the care he needs and a forever home where he'll be treasured. I promised the trembling little guy that far, far better days are ahead.

A couple of weeks ago a landlord called us to say that two Border Collies, a mama and her puppy, had been abandoned at his rural rental property. Brooklyn is a traditional black and white Border and Jasmine is a gorgeous red and white. Jasmine, being the resilient puppy that she is, has recovered quickly. Brooklyn on the other hand, being older and much more bonded, is broken hearted at the loss of her family. She is still feeling lost and depressed after watching her beloved pack up the truck and drive away without her.

Each and every time we do a rescue, I ask the "abandonment" question. How do people do such a cruel thing to such loyal, loving, selfless creatures? Answer: they obviously don't allow themselves to take a last look in their rear view mirror as they drive away — or their hearts are made of stone.

Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends.