Choices Matter Our choices matter Abandonment: 2. cease to support or look after (someone); desert. ‘It’s a dog…or a cat – they are fully equipped to fend for themselves in the wild. I’ll just set it free because I can’t be responsible for it anymore.’ No, they are not able to fend for themselves. Whether abandoned to the street or out in the wild, our pets are absolutely incapable of feeding themselves or staying safe. Add to this fact that our pets see us as their family – not only as part of their pack, but in the pack leader’s position. Perspective is invaluable in our efforts to be more human. The following video is very well done and is a fantastic aid in upgrading our own perspective. Euthanasia: 1. the act of putting to death painlessly … an animal suffering from incurable disease. Also called mercy killing. This definition does not accurately describe the daily killing of companion animals in the U.S. – about one every 11 seconds! These animals are usually healthy. Many suffer. One of the more conservative estimates available says that 2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year. A large factor in this heart-breaking number are family pets that are not neutered, whelping litter after litter of puppies or kittens that are surrendered. While multitudes of well behaved, beautiful, loving, healthy – and purebred animals are being gassed and otherwise put down, pet farms (aka pet mills) continue to inundate the typical pet market with more puppies, kittens, and ferrets (often bred and raised in cruel conditions). Some of the reasons heard by shelters for surrender: We’re moving We’re having a baby; no time for the pet My new partner doesn’t like pets He’s getting old and I can’t bear to see him become frail She’s old (or sick) and I don’t want the kids to experience the heartache I didn’t know he’d be so much trouble It almost seems that many ‘furrents’ feel their baby will do well after surrender. After all, the people dedicating their lives to shelters, whether county or state run or non-profit, no-kill shelters, all want do do everything possible for the animals in their charge. However, most official shelters can only give your baby about 72 hours to find a new home. They are constantly over-filled and under-staffed as well as under-provisioned. Volunteer no-kill shelters very often have no choice but to close their doors to surrenders; they are simply being overrun. When the loving soul that shared your life, often for years, meets his or her end – at best, they are frightened. Confused. And alone. Paws 4 a Cause Paducah has graciously given permission to share here that last experience. Best case scenario – still bleak. 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? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would.” How big did you think a Great Dane 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 the 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 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 that I deal with every day 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 every day than there are homes. My point to all of this DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE! Hate me if you want. 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. ~ Author unknown This isn’t a guilt trip. These are facts that others must manage to deal with every day. These are facts that we can change! Every day, our choices matter! How can you help?