A Shelter Manager's Letter

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    Jan 21, 2014 6:18 PM GMT
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    The shelter manager's letter:

    "I am posting this (and it is long) because 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. 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. 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. No shortage of excuses. The most common excuses I hear are: We're moving and we can't take our dog (or cat). Really? Where are you moving to that doesn't allow pets? 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 bringing her inside, 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, and how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you. Dead pet walking! 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 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, rottweiler, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don't get adopted. 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, though not for long. Most pets 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.

    The Grim Reaper - 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....that is, until they get to "The Room". Every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks 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 their size and how freaked out they are). A euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They 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 it's leg. 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? Liberty, freedom and justice for all 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 do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists and I hate that it will always be there unless 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 is 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 thing on craigslist and it made me want to adopt". That would make it all worth it."


    Not all shelters use lethal injection.
  • jeremylk7

    Posts: 91

    Jan 22, 2014 1:51 AM GMT
    This was absolutely eye opening and extremely disturbing.
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    Jan 22, 2014 1:56 AM GMT
    So many people do NOT deserve to own a pet. It takes work and dedication and love, just like kids. It not your god given right to have a pet!! icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:07 AM GMT
    jeremylk7 saidThis was absolutely eye opening and extremely disturbing.


    Yeah, it really is. When I volunteered at the SPCA, there wasn't a single day I didn't break down crying on my way home. Not a single day. I'm not sure how many they euthanize now, but when I was there, they had to kill around 1000 dogs a month. But still people will get a dog from a breeder, rather than rescuing one of these dogs from death row. I just don't understand how someone can do that. But they always have plenty of excuses.
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:07 AM GMT
    shelters are so sad to see, but i do appreciate the no-kill shelters like Save-A-Pet, the Humane Society, and some shelters of the ASPCA.

    and yeah so many people, much like children, should never be pet owners.

    I love my dog <3
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:09 AM GMT
    Scruffypup said
    jeremylk7 saidThis was absolutely eye opening and extremely disturbing.


    Yeah, it really is. When I volunteered at the SPCA, there wasn't a single day I didn't break down crying on my way home. Not a single day. I'm not sure how many they euthanize now, but when I was there, they had to kill around 1000 dogs a month. But still people will get a dog from a breeder, rather than rescuing one of these dogs from death row. I just don't understand how someone can do that. But they always have plenty of excuses.


    growing up we adopted two dogs from a no-kill shelter. one had been there for 8 years when we picked him up. his name was Toby and was an awesome dog...in fact, the people there cried when we took him because they had raised him for so long.
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:10 AM GMT
    I support a shelter in my city that does not put anything down that comes though it's doors, unless to be kind to a sick animal.

    Sadly it's us humans who are the real animals in this world.

    If a man has a dog, he then has everything.
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:16 AM GMT
    That's why all of my cats have been rescues.
    As for the stray, feral, or abandoned ones who find their way into my neighborhood and stay awhile? Whenever I can I give them TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return.) My vet clinic does the "fixing" at a lower rate. It still sets me back a few bucks and the cat still has to subsist outdoors. But being spayed/neutered means they're less apt to get into fights. And they're not perpetuating the cycle of more homeless animals.
    Other people living nearby also keep their eye out for such dogs and cats. We keep each other posted whenever there's a "new kid in town" and take turns footing the TNR bill. Less involved neighbors pitch in as well, by leaving fresh water and some food in bowls outside. Although there's no room at my inn I have a large plastic "house" on my back porch, with its entrance facing the wall, for an animal in need to take shelter in. On cold nights like tonight it's the least I can do.
    We live in an area heavy with students and other transients, who are known to bring a puppy (or more often kitten) into their home and then ditch it when they move away. icon_cry.gif So a day when no animal will be left to fend for itself is never gonna happen. But we do what we can.
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:19 AM GMT
    willular said
    Scruffypup said
    jeremylk7 saidThis was absolutely eye opening and extremely disturbing.


    Yeah, it really is. When I volunteered at the SPCA, there wasn't a single day I didn't break down crying on my way home. Not a single day. I'm not sure how many they euthanize now, but when I was there, they had to kill around 1000 dogs a month. But still people will get a dog from a breeder, rather than rescuing one of these dogs from death row. I just don't understand how someone can do that. But they always have plenty of excuses.


    growing up we adopted two dogs from a no-kill shelter. one had been there for 8 years when we picked him up. his name was Toby and was an awesome dog...in fact, the people there cried when we took him because they had raised him for so long.


    Good for you. Glad you got a good friend and was able to give him a home.

    It's always a dilemma if we should support kill shelters or no-kill shelters. The no-kill shelters certainly must be supported because of the obvious reason that they're trying desperately to keep the animals alive. But they can do this because they get to be selective about when and if they take in more dogs. The kill shelters are normally the city shelters. They're required by law to take in any and all homeless dogs and cats, regardless of overcrowding. They don't kill because they enjoy it or because they're mean people; they kill because they run out of options and space. Most cities give these shelters as little money as possible. Here in my city, we have fundraisers all year long for the SPCA because the city doesn't consider them a priority. So we can't ignore the kill shelters either. The answer is, we must support them both.
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    Jan 22, 2014 2:28 AM GMT
    The job of gassing dogs as shown in that video must be one of the most hellish on earth, even if those employees are temperamentally suited to it.

    Scruffypup saidBut still people will get a dog from a breeder, rather than rescuing one of these dogs from death row. I just don't understand how someone can do that. But they always have plenty of excuses.

    Shelters, shelter employees and volunteers, and people who adopt from shelters are wonderful. Except when they hate on those that don't. Please stop continuing to denigrate people who buy from breeders, particularly since many donate money to animal shelters. People can be advocates for adoption without vilifying others who choose to have biological children, opt for in vitro surrogacy or choose to adopt infants or domestically only. When you make statements about people who don't go the dog rescue route you insult "parents" by implying that their "children" have less of a right to live.

    Plus I don't understand how people adopting from kill shelters can play God knowing that most dogs that they don't choose will be executed. I give them a lot of credit because I certainly couldn't, I'm so much of a softie I'd want to take them all home. I couldn't even choose from a litter of puppies; do you go for the one that comes right up to you and bonds or the timid one in the corner that seems to need your love and intervention more? And at shelters the sick or healthy, the old or young, the purebreed or mixed? I only wound up with the dogs I have because they were a gift, like babies in a basket on my doorstep. Because my doorstep was in a coop that initiated a dog policy, and the first was such a hit that I was actually allowed a second. (Not many Manhattan coops will allow two 50 lb dogs.)

    My cousin who grew up in a no pets apartment can't turn down or give up a rescue dog and because she has a rural 25 acre spread she has over a dozen, plus other rescue animals but at the detriment of her own health because it's her third job as she's also a nurse who runs a business and the pressure's killing her; her frustrated husband's about to retire and have her give all her animals up. My parents and a good friend, who all regularly adopt shelter dogs, each recently got a new one. My parents wound up with a dog several years older than the shelter represented and the friend, after she got mad at me and all of her friends for each questioning whether she could handle the additional responsibility when she told us she'd be adopting yet another, got stuck with a dog with undisclosed kennel cough, which she complains already cost her $1,000. Either might have gotten the dogs regardless but the fact remains that both shelters misrepresented the age and health of the animals. I'm not a shelter manager but I suspect an "excuse" may be that a shelter's resources are too limited and taxed to guarantee the health and age of every animal, or that they'll say or do anything to save an animal. Okay, fine. But don't be upset at people who pay reputable breeders because they want more of a guarantee. Not everyone has the wherewithal and resources to provide the attention an older sicker animal needs.

    Yes, my dogs came from a breeder. But I did two responsible things. First, I waited 30 years between dogs to ensure I could provide a good home for them, and be home for them, because as long as we're all feeling entitled to our opinions I think leaving a single dog alone all day is inhumane. Second, I had my showdogs, valuable breeding stock, spayed and neutered. My dogs will never see the inside of a shelter, nor will their progeny because there are none.

    When I was 15 I had to drive my mother to the vet to put down our doberman because she was too upset to drive. I was with him when he was put down because as he was led to the back room of his regular vet to be euthanized he knew, turning 'round and giving us a pitiable, fearful look so I insisted. I remember we then went to a china shop because while she hated shopping, my mother said that you couldn't get hysterical in a china shop. (Mom was right - too many breakables.) Eighteen months ago I left my mom at home and drove her latest shelter dog, a dying beagle, to the vet to be put down. And in between, more than once, I was at hospital bedsides as morphine drips were administered for the last time. I've spooned enough corpses to not be dictated to or manipulated by appeals to sentiment.
  • AMoonHawk

    Posts: 11406

    Jan 22, 2014 2:46 AM GMT
    That is so heart breaking ... got mine from a shelter ... I'd get another if I could but can't afford more than one ... fortunately in my area the shelter is a no kill shelter ... not sure if it holds true 100% of the time though, because I wanted to adopt one once but they told me I couldn't because he was mean and they would try to send him to training but if they couldn't tame it
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    Jan 22, 2014 5:58 PM GMT
    I volunteer in an animal shelter and i thank you so much for posting ...
    Owning a dog is not a show off competition icon_sad.gif
    Buying a dog isn't like buying an automobile to show off you your friends and neighbours , Animals are not objects , they are living creatures with needs and feeling .
    Puppy mills should be forbidden to exist , condition of life in those are deplorable icon_sad.gif
    Breeders of pure breed dogs and cats, should be monitored at all times !
    Before to buy , please visit an animal shelter !
    Murderer , rapist and animal abusers should be used as "lab-rats" for medical research , it would save time and money !
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    Jan 22, 2014 8:34 PM GMT
    ^^^ wags tail.. icon_wink.gif
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    Jan 29, 2014 11:20 PM GMT
  • Suetonius

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    Jan 30, 2014 12:01 AM GMT
    Puppy mills (and buying dogs/cats from pet stores) should be banned. Many of these pets are not health anyway, and definitely the puppies are not socialized. Ideally, there would be a tax on dog breeders, to pay for shelters.
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    Jan 30, 2014 12:08 AM GMT
    All my dogs have always been rescue dogs. I've had nothing but wonderful experiences with them. Most were mixes except for my beagle, who was rescued from some truly appalling circumstances. But all of them were crazy-affectionate, wonderful animals.
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    Jan 30, 2014 12:40 AM GMT
    Suetonius saidPuppy mills (and buying dogs/cats from pet stores) should be banned. Many of these pets are not health anyway, and definitely the puppies are not socialized. Ideally, there would be a tax on dog breeders, to pay for shelters.


    You know, that's not a bad idea. Except most of them are like drug dealers....it's all cash sales and they pay no taxes.
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    Jan 30, 2014 1:07 AM GMT
    in Canada i don't think you are able to buy animals from pet stores anymore. Usually those animals came from a puppy mill.