Thursday, May 05, 2011

You can't keep your pet? Really?

~By a Shelter Director

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, any of you whom have surrendered a pet
to a shelter or humane society should be made to work
in the "back" of an animal shelter - for just ONE DAY.
Maybe if you saw the life drain from those sad,
lost, confused eyes, you'd stop flagging the ads on here
and help these animals find homes.
That puppy you just dropped off will most-likely end up
in my shelter when it's no longer a cute little puppy anymore.
Just so you know, there's a 90% chance that your dog will never
walk out back out, once entered in to the shelter system...
Purebred or not!
About 25% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays"
that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.
The most common excuses:
"We're moving and can't take our dog (or cat)."
Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets?
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?
"We just don't want to have to stress about finding
a place for her & we know she'll get adopted,
she's a good dog".
Odds are, your pet won't get adopted
& how stressful do you think it is for your pet?
Did you know...
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/cat manages to stay completely healthy.
If it sniffles, it is euthanized.
Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room
with other barking & crying animals.
It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps.
It will be depressed and will cry constantly for you.
If your pet is lucky, there will be enough volunteers in that day
to take him/her for a walk.
If not, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food
slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of it's 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.
If your cat is scared and doesn't act friendly enough,
or if it catches a cold (which most of them 'do'),
it will be put to sleep.
Those dogs & cats just don't get adopted.
In most cases, it doesn't matter how 'sweet' or 'well behaved' they are.
If your pet doesn't get adopted within it's 72 hours
and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.
If the shelter isn't full and your pet 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 because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and
making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.
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 freaks out and puts on the brakes when they 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 shelter workers,
depending on the size and how freaked out they are.
Then a shelter worker who we call a "euthanasia tech (not a vet)"
finds a vein in the front leg and injects a lethal dose of the "pink stuff".
Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerks.
I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood...
the yelps and screams are deafening.
They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes they spasm for a while,
gasp for air and defecate on themselves.
You see, shelters are trying to make money to pay employee pay checks
and then, there's the board of directors...
who need to be paid too!
Consequently, corners are cut, & we don't spend our funds to
tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug,
we just put the burning lethal drug in their vein and let them suffer until dead.
If it were not a business for profit, we'd do it humanely and hire a
licensed vet do this procedure.
That way, the animal would be sedated or tranquilized and THEN euthanized.
But to do this procedure correctly would only cost more money...
so we don't necessarily do what is right for the animal,
we do what's expedient so we can continue to make a buck!
Shelters do not have to have a vet perform their euthanasia procedures.
Oftentimes, they are untrained personnel administering lethal injections.
So... that employee may take 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get inside the vein.
In the end, your pet's corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer,
usually in the back of the building with all of the other animals that were killed.
There they will sit until being picked up like garbage. 
What happens next? Cremated?
Taken to the dump?
Rendered into pet food?
Or used for schools to dissect and experiment on?
You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind.
After all, it was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?!
I hope that those of you who still have a beating heart and have read this
are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head.
I deal with this everyday.
I hate my job, I hate that it exists &
I hate that it will always be there unless you people make changes
and start educating yourselves, your children, the public.
Do the research, do your homework, and know exactly
what you are getting into before getting a pet.
These shelters and humane societies exist because people just do not care about animals anymore.
And PLEASE stop breeding!
Animals were not intended to be disposable but somehow that is what they've become.

For those of you that care---
please repost this to at least one other Craigslist in another City/State.


Sandra said...

I am bawling my eyes out even after I finished reading this. I hope you don't mind if I re-post this. If one person reads this on my blog (and I don't know how many will have the guts to finish reading) it will be worth it. Thank you for sharing this. I had a pen pal years ago - I chose her beceause of the facts that she claimed to love the dogs that she owned. Until she said she is moving and the new place doesn't allow dogs so she will take them into a shelter. I never wrote back. I don't need people like that in my life. Thankfull, ours is a no-kill shelter.... sorry, I know this is your blog ...

Tina said...

Don't apologize Sandra, it's great to see passionate people, too many aren't, and treat animal as items and not living things with a brain and a soul. I wish all shelters were no kill shelters.

Denise said...

I'm so happy I adopted Bridget and didn't get her from a breeder.

I hope you will not mind if I repost this too. Every one needs to know what happens after they drop off their pet.

My son is doing a service project this summer for 2 shelters. Collecting food and other supplies. Hopefully, it helps in some small way.

Thank you for the insight.

Pumpkin said...

I saw this on Denise's Blog but thought I would leave my comment here.

While I agree with 'most' of what this Shelter Director said, there were parts that really upset me. I have adopted a rabbit from a shelter twice. My first bunny lived with me until he was 11 years old. I loved him dearly and I feel honored to have had him in my life. He was part of our family.

The story behind my second adoption was not as happy. I worked with this bunny for almost a year but for some reason, it was not a good connection and I returned her to the shelter (no kill). Since taking her back, I have emailed the shelter many times to check up on her. It's not that I didn't care about her, it's that a bond did not form.

Now don't get me wrong, I am completely against puppy mills and people not having their animals spayed or neutered. There ARE many animals in the world looking for homes and if I could, I would take as many as I could home with me. But if either member of the relationship is unhappy, then you're not helping yourself or the animal.

I admit, I could not read the whole letter because it does bother me that there are kill shelters out there. Would I have taken my second bunny back to the shelter if it was a kill one? Definitely not!

Okay, there are a lot of other issues to consider like stress and human contact but when I brought my bunny back, she acted more at home there than she ever did in my house! I've been to shelters many times and yes, I have seen those sad eyes and broken confidences.

Unfortunately this is our world. Animals AND humans are out there looking for homes and come with sad background stories. There are many things we can do to help this but on the other hand, we can only do so much. Spreading the word and helping your local shelter definitely contributes to the cause and I urge people to do it.

You know me Tina and I'm not sure if I'm getting out what I really want to say. It might be more babble than anything.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

We can all rant and scream and post this message on all of our blogs and on every CL across the country, but unfortunately the people you are trying to get this message across to won't bother reading it because they don't want to be reminded of what they have done or that they didn't care in the first place.

One situation that I think most of us tend to sweep under the rug or not discuss, because it involves our much respected military families, is the number of animals that are abandoned, dumped and given away every time a military family transfers to a new base station.

Why can't they take their animals with them?

We live near a military base and not a week goes by that we don't see these families trying to give away their pets on CL, Freecycle, in the newspaper, and at the animal shelters. They are usually 'desperate to find the best home for their loved and adored babies' because they don't have much time before the move.

These families who move to an area only temporarily should do everyone a favor not adopt any pets. Maybe they can be encouraged to do foster care instead?

Or maybe the shelters could start doing a rent-a-pet?


Sage said...

I have two rescue dogs, both youngsters. One was a year old and we were his fourth home because they couldn't cope with him, the second one was 18 months old and his owner was disabled and as a result he was bored and running away all the time. It is a sad, sad thing when dogs have to be surrendered for such pitiful reasons but they are and I support Dog's Trust which unlike the RSPCA don't put a healhy dog down... such a sad post xx

Shari said...

thanks so much for sharing is really eye opening.....

Betsey said...

We have lots of "rejects". The 10 year old dog who made it through his owner's first bad marriage but didn't work in marriage number 2. Thankfully, his "aunt" had enough sense to take him before he was gassed.

We are on broodmom #2 from the puppy mills. (I hate the term b*tch)

None of them are perfect but hey, neither are we and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

I bought the book - Don't Dump the Dog and shook my head at the crazy excuses.

All of this breaks my heart.