SNAP-X: Van’s Story


After becoming actively involved in animal welfare as an adult, I started adopting “death-row dogs” and fostering them in my home until I could find responsible, loving homes. I had arranged to transport a dog from Lincolnton, N.C., to foster. At that point, I already had three of my own dogs (all rescues), so one more dog was all that I could handle.

On’s message board, I came across a thread labeled “Savannah Animal Control Urgents” — these were the faces of all the animals that had less than 48 hours to live. None of them had names, just numbers. Each animal’s photo was heart-wrenching; all I wanted to do was to get them to safety.

I came upon a photo of a medium-sized 5-year-old black dog. I already had one foster coming and had NO room in my New York City apartment for a second … UNTIL I saw this dog. I knew that black dogs are the last to get adopted, especially if they are older, and, with tears streaming from my eyes, I said to myself, “No matter what happens, I will not let this dog die.”

van-giving-paw2-300x283I started my odyssey with a call to Animal Control in Savannah, which made it very clear that unless I was going to pick him up in person, or I was a registered out-of-state rescue organization, I was not going to be able to save that dog. Neither option was available to me in the short time he had left.

After consulting many animal-rescue forums and putting out pleas on the Internet without results, I felt completely defeated. While I was down, Kacy, an animal-rescue friend of mine, suggested I call the Humane Society for Greater Savannah. To my delight, they said they would go pick Van up for me, and take care of him until I could get him to New York City.

When they arrived, they were told he had already been put down. The Animal Control worker had promised me she would hold him a little longer!

In a panic, I called the woman at Animal Control in tears. She said, “Honey, I did hold him. The girl at the front desk just didn’t know.” Afraid it wasn’t him, I was reassured by his picture since one of his back paws is white and it matched.

The real work began when he started his new life at the Humane Society. The dog, now named Savannah (“Van” for short), was very skinny, had intestinal worms, Giardia and heartworm, wasn’t neutered and, to top it all off, had a very bad jaw injury from a gunshot wound. Mary Peabody and the kind people of the Humane Society for Greater Savannah neutered him and cleaned him up enough to get him to NYC, where he began a year of healing.

Van and Lincoln (the foster from North Carolina) arrived and they were HANDFULS, to say the least! But I am proud to say Lincoln (now named Pushkin) has a wonderful home in Brooklyn with a very loving family.


Fabiola and Van today

Van, on the other hand, needed significant care before I could send him to a family. He had to have multiple surgeries on his jaw, as well as lengthy treatment for a spectrum of other medical issues. As time and treatment went on, Van became part of our family. He is the kindest, gentlest, most loving dog I have ever had the pleasure of taking care of. Most of all, he has solidified in my heart the knowledge that EVERY animal sitting in animal control waiting to be euthanized can be the pet of someone’s dreams; I know because Van is my dream dog.

I look into his adoring and lively eyes and I feel the pain of all the animals like him, filled with love, but being left to their deaths daily. Sure, sometimes I want to stop looking at all those faces I can’t save; the pain is very real and it leaves me raw. But I know if I don’t remind myself of how bad this epidemic is, I could not help with such passion. I would not be able to raise awareness in others, and I’ve learned the only way to end this problem is together.

Please join Van and me in this new adventure of raising money to help other pets like Van across North America with SNAP-X.–Fabiola Beracasa