An incomplete story


A Letter from a Shelter Manager - anonymous in North Carolina

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 too 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? They always tell me "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 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. 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 because 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 freaks out and puts on the brakes 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 pets 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 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 farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 4 and 5 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.



Tina Clark said...

Oh, great, more “blame the public” drivel. I am SO DAMNED TIRED of reading this kind of emotional blackmail and shifting the blame from either non-caring or clueless directors of kill pounds.

“There's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter.” So...a 10 per cent live release rate??? Even for a kill pound, this is outrageous.

“If it sniffles, it dies.” and “Chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.” The fact that animals are being killed for easily treatable conditions like kennel cough is a needless tragedy. You cannot afford money for some antibiotics to make these animals better, but you can afford the fatal plus to kill them? If the pound doesn’t have the money for medication, what are you doing ro raise that money? Because I’ll bet you if you told that horrible non-caring public you needed money to save lives, and asked for donations, they would come through. But then, that would upset your world view, and we can’t have that.

“It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps” and have the “waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.” No, this doesn’t have to happen. You are in control of this. (And please stop calling these living beings “it.”)

“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.” Breed discrimination rears its ugly head once again. Ever thought about doing some creative promotion of some of these dogs?” No, I thought not. You’re too busy whining about the evil public.

And the description of putting the animal to death (and please, can we all stop using the word “euthanasia” for this killing?) betrays a level of incompetence that is appalling. The fact that these animals don’t need to die aside, what kind of vet or vet tech would allow an animal to suffer like this during this procedure? It isn’t the fault of the public that this “shelter” hires hacks instead of competent techs.

“I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes.” No, Mr. or Ms. Shelter Manager, it is YOU who needs to make the changes. Have you ever heard of the No-Kill Equation? If not, check it out, take it to heart, and put it into practice. If so, why are you still killing 90 per cent of your animals when you know there’s a better way???

“Between 4 and 5 MILLION animals die every year in shelters.” True. And approximately 17 million people a year are looking to bring a new animal into their homes, and are undecided where to obtain that animal. So let’s drop this counterproductive “irresponsible public” and “pet overpopulation” bunk and start doing what it takes to find these homes that we now know are out there.

He/she says his/her point is “don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die.” Catchy. And it rhymes. Great. But it is the wrong point. It is a total red herring. The only thing that is going to stop pets dying in pounds is for non-caring directors to be replaced with caring ones, and for caring ones to get a clue about a set of protocols that has been proven to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals wherever it is conscientiously followed.

Marc said...

The cats in this photograph (one of the most horrible images I have ever seen) remind me of so many cats that I have had or friends have had. The character that wrote this opinion piece blaming the public for his murderous actions is a modern day Heinrich Himmler.

Today (October 7th)is Himmler's birthday. Books and films about Hitler abound whilst guys like Himmler remain more anonymous. Himmler committed exterminations and blamed everything on other people.

How do we allow murderers to occupy positions of authority in places called Animal "Shelters"? How do creatures like him kill for money? How do we allow it to continue now that we know and have seen images like this photograph? Are we really couch potatoes? Can we change? Me think not. Sob....

Ed Muzika said...

I know, this shelter director is a piece of work. Poor me, I have to kill all these cats. There is nothing I can do. You damn people buy your pets from breeders or irresponsibly let them get pregnant and then turn them over to a shelter where I break my ass to get them adopted for a whole 25 minutes every day.

Charlie said...

I don't know how some of the people that comment on this plea can be so heartless. Shame on you.

Even if this letter is exaggerated, there still exists a problem and that problem is that breeders make thousands selling animals whilst too many end up being culled. If public/breeders habits can not be changed, then heavily tax the breeders, and use that money to pay for their mistakes.

Tina Clark said...

Charlie, how can you call people heartless because they know there is a way to end this killing and want to see it put into place, while you defend those who do the killing and don't even attempt these proven programs? No, it is not the breeders who are the cause of the killing, it is the killers. There is not an "overpopulation problem." If there were, how could these breeders you cite be making thousands selling animals?