May Spotlight and Letter from a Shelter Manager

This evening we have posted the May Spotlight Story: Lady was saved from a life of excruciating pain when she was rescued from the yard where she had been tied to a tree by chains that were two short to allow her to walk and by a collar that had become embedded in her neck. Lady survived her ordeal because the shelter that came to her aid decided to pay for her life saving surgery. Please read her story and make a donation to help defray her shelter’s surgical and medical expenses. She got at rough start in life, but has a chance now!

Also this week we would like to share with you a letter from a shelter manager that vividly describes what happens to far too many animals. It is difficult to read, but it is the truth. For animals that end up in shelters, chances for adoption or — even survival — are slim. City animal facilities have neither space nor funding to care for these animals indefinitely. No-kill shelters are few and far between and are more often than not filled to the brim.

Still breeders continue to breed and people continue to go to breeders more frequently than I would have supposed.

I recently adopted a puppy from a shelter. Her name is Phoebe. On a cold January night and at barely five weeks of age, she was tossed over the fence of a local no-kill shelter. I am thankful she was not abandoned on the streets to fend for herself and I am also thankful she was left at a no-kill shelter. Otherwise, as this letter makes clear, we might never have found her!

After we adopted her, we began puppy education at a local pet store. It was one of the largest classes the trainer had seen with ten puppies under six months old. While there were many shapes and sizes, only Phoebe and one other puppy had been adopted from a shelter. All the rest were purchased from breeders. I am glad these dogs have homes, but I cannot help but think of all the homeless dogs waiting for adoption that were likely euthanized over the eight weeks our class ran.
While I know that the owners in our class were taking a critical first step in making sure their dogs did not develop intolerable behavioral habits — a reason many dogs are surrendered to shelters – I wondered if we were all committed to the long term. If we met again in three years, would all of the dogs still be with these families? I hope so. I want to believe it.

Phoebe has now graduated and received both a certificate and edible diploma. Although she is likely made up of many breeds, she was top dog in her class. She is not always perfectly behaved and we will continue her education – and ours – through her lifetime. She is worth all the effort we can put forth for the joy and laughter she brings us every day. I know many of you have a “Phoebe” in your lives and know just what I mean.

The following is the Letter from a Shelter Manager. The author of the letter is unknown, but it was sent by email from Nancy Underwood along with a link to her photo album of dogs rescued in the last six months.

Nancy said, “Because I believe that pictures can communicate a lot more words than words alone, I have included something special on this otherwise somber email: a photo album containing 100 photos of dogs that I know have been rescued in the past 6 months.”

Letter from a Shelter Manager

I think our society needs a huge ” Wake-up” call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all. ..a view from the inside if you will. First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know. That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays” that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses I hear are:

  • “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving to that doesn’t allow pets and why did you choose that place instead of a pet friendly home?
  • Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would.” How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?
  • “We don’t have time for her.” Really? I work a 10- 12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!
  • “She’ s tearing up our yard.” How about making her a part of your family?
  • They always tell me: “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know he’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog.”

Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. Â If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted. It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are. If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long. Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed be cause shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.. .. First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk – happy, wagging their tails. Until, they get to “The Room”, every one of them freak out and put the brakes on when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much further than the pets you dump at a shelter…. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.

My point to all of this: DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE! Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt.” THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT! Please don’t breed or buy while shelter animals DIE. Please spay/neuter to SAVE LIVES and ADOPT from a Rescue or Animal Shelter – THANK YOU! Let’s pray that 2009 spares more lives than the 11 million killed this year…

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