Saturday, February 7, 2009

A 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 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 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 farther 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 persons 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


Anonymous said...

This cannot be true---not the euth part. It just can't be, Honesty.

I've never been a shelter manager, so I don't know what the sam hill I'm talking about. But, euthanasia cannot be euthanasia unless it is done humanely and painlessly, otherwise, it's not euth, it's torture, plain and simple.

I know you didn't write this, you just couldn't have. Someone who hates the shelters, but loves animals, nevertheless, wrote this in order to bash the shelter system altogether and paint all shelters as torture chambers. The vets absolutely have to treat the animals kindly and compassionately. You just couldnt' do euth on an animal without having the utmost compassion for that animal. It's heartbreaking as hell as it is. It's just not like you to write a piece like this. I don't accept it for one minute. We want to keep the animals out of the shelter whenever possible, sure, but not as long as they are doomed to suffering whether it is on the street, at the hands of an abuser, and certainly not at the shelter.

A Whinonette wrote this piece. Not you.

Honesty Helps said...

Whoa, this is an extreme case and it happens. Euthanasia is never easy even when it is done in different conditions, the ideal conditions. I don't feel the letter was written to bash shelters, it was written to make people think. I have been in the room and have seen some like this description. It's not easy, they try to make it as easy as they can on the animal. I will not classify it as torture. I classify it as a waste of life. I hate it too. But what can they do? You know the alternative. I didn't write it but I identify with it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining it all, Honesty. Sure takes a lot out of you doesn't it?

I see.

Honesty Helps said...

The wrapping is the best way. I do that with my birds to clip their nails. And you stand less likely a chance of tearing veins. But most prefer to sedate before.

I didn't write it but I agree with it. I didn't feel it bashed the shelters at all, it made a point. STOP THE BIRTHS, BE RESPONSIBLE. There are good shelters and there are bad shelters. I have met many a good person who worked in a shelter, who started out wanting to help animals but had to come to the reality that euthanizing them is the way to help. They don't like it any more than we do, just like this Letter expresses.

It was written in the spirit of NOT letting people off the hook such as no kill does. It was written to make people feel guilty as they should. No Kill tells the people that they aren't responsible, this letter says they are. IT'S PEOPLE WHO KILL THE SHELTER ANIMALS, NOT ANIMAL CONTROL. What is so hard to understand about that? Feel lucky we have people who can do this duty for us. Imagine the consequences if it weren't for these strong people. I thank God everyday for them. They do something I am incapable of doing, I am not that strong. There's another message here, please look for it.

Anonymous said...

What can I say, Honesty, your'e a great teacher and your patience is out of this world.

Thank you for taking the time to critically evaluate the letter. my reaction to the letter, and make your arguments reasonably, kindly, and patiently.

What a teacher you are. One of the very best.

Sure takes energy to argue with those like me who just feel and don't reason or analyze critically. We just don't get it sometimes, and we need a little help.

I will search for the other message in the letter later tonite when I get back from the doctor.

I wasn't going to get on the computer this morning, but your words are always nurturing. Like vitamins enabling growth. Vitamins for thought, judgment, and mind.

Anonymous said...

Although, it's really scary to read the letter again. It's too close, too real...heartwrenching. I think that's the reality and what this letter is meant to accomplish. Break you down until you see the truth behind the scenes. The truth about what WE, as a people, keep doing to these animals, over and over again, day after day each and every time we allow an animal to conceive and look the other way when we trash him after all the precious love and loyalty he has given us. God, I'm crying now...I need to stop and won't be able to. I can't see what I'm writing now beyond the tears. I can't take it.