The saying goes that dogs are man’s best friend. For many people, this couldn’t be more true, and most dog-owners would go to great lengths to ensure the safety and well-being of their furry family members.
One woman took this to extreme lengths, choosing to end her marriage of twenty-five years in favor of her rescue dogs.
Liz Haslam’s Story
Liz Haslam and her husband Mike were high school sweethearts. They married after graduation and moved to a house in the countryside in Barnham, Suffolk, United Kingdom. The couple had one child together and lived there for twenty-five years.
During that time Liz began rescuing dogs. Her mother had raised West Highland Terriers, and her father owned an animal feed company, so her love of dogs ran deep. Figuring there was enough space on their property, Liz opened a business called Beds for Bullies, which focused on providing shelter for bull terriers in need.
Mike began to feel that everything in their lives revolved around the dogs, many of whom had medical conditions that required constant care, and that made it more difficult to find them permanent homes.
He confronted Liz, saying “it’s either me or the dogs”, and with that their relationship ended.
“I thought that, after 25 years, he should’ve known that giving up dogs was not a part of my intentions, not at all. He knew from the moment we got married what I was all about. I don’t know what he expected,” said Liz .
Liz went into further detail, explaining how she and Mike had begun drifting apart. He was very busy with work, so Liz took refuge in her dogs, who gave her all of the love and attention she felt she was missing.
The Need For Animal Shelters
Animal shelters provide a crucial service, and perform many roles. They care for animals who need protection, try to find homes for animals without families, and attempt to reunite lost animals with their owners.
Some shelters go beyond the basic needs and provide animals with health services and training, perform behavioral evaluations, and offer humane education.
Shelters can be structured in three ways:
- Municipal animal control, which is run by the city or country government. These are typically open-access, so they will receive any animal that is brought to their door or seized by animal control agents. These shelters sometimes become over-filled, forcing some animals to be euthanized to make space.
- Non-profit agencies, which are overseen by a board of directors.
- Private, non-profit agencies, which have government contracts allowing them to provide animal control services. They rely on donations and grants to fund their programs, and sometimes have to turn animals away if they do not have the capacity to keep them.
To solve this problem, many shelters have set up foster care programs to increase the number of animals they can care for.
The US relies heavily on animal shelters. According to The Humane Society of the United States, between six and eight million pets get taken into shelters every year. Sadly, more than half of all abandoned dogs are euthanized in shelters.
For this reason, many open-access, sometimes called “kill” shelters, get a bad reputation for being over-crowded and for euthanizing so many of their animals, however any time an animal is killed in a shelter, it is not taken lightly. It occurs so often because most of these facilities are under-funded, and simply do not have the capacity to handle the number of animals they receive.
Beds for Bullies
Liz takes care of thirty dogs on her property, all of whom require varying levels of care, medication, and attention. The job sometimes keeps her busy for eighteen hours a day. She has invested thousands of dollars into medical care for her rescues, which at one point forced her into living in a tent because she couldn’t afford to pay the rent in her home.
Despite this, Liz wouldn’t change her situation for anything: “I’ve chosen to do this, and I love it,” she says .
As for her marriage, Liz is confident she made the right choice.
“My passion for dogs was too huge for Mike.”