(Editor's Note: Written by an animal shelter manager in Trenton, Ga., this "Letter to the Editor" is graphic. However, it is being published with the hope of encouraging animal lovers to consider …
(Editor's Note: Written by an animal shelter manager in Trenton, Ga., this "Letter to the Editor" is graphic. However, it is being published with the hope of encouraging animal lovers to consider adopting, or rescuing, from animal shelters. With the writer's permission, the letter has been forwarded to the Cleveland Daily Banner by Roger Groot, a Cleveland resident who has provided rescue homes to dogs and cats for 78 years.)
To The Editor:
I think our society needs a wake-up call. As an animal shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all ... a view from inside, if you will.
First, all you breeders and sellers should be made to work for just one day [in a shelter]. 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 a shelter when it is not a cute puppy anymore.
How would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of that shelter where it's being dumped ... pure bred or not. About 50% of all dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays" that come into my shelter are pure-bred dogs.
One of the most common excuses I hear is, "We are moving and we can't take our dog or cat." Really? Where are you moving 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?
Or, "We don't have time for her." Really? I work 10 to 12 hours per day and still have time for my six dogs. Or, "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 stress about finding a place for her. We know she will 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. Your pet has 72 hours from the minute you drop it off. Sometimes it's a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.
Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other dogs barking or crying. 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, there will be enough volunteers that day to take your dog for a walk. If not, your pet would get no attention except for 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 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. These 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 might 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.
If your pet makes it over these hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or a respiratory infection, and it will be destroyed ... because shelters just don't have the funds for even a $100 treatment.
Here's a little Euthanasia 101 for those of you that 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 and wagging their tails, until they get to "the room." Everyone 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 everyone of them. Your dog, or your cat, will be restrained, held down by one or two vet techs, depending on the size and how freaked out they are.
Then, a euthanasia tech or 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 the other animals that were killed.
What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You'll never know and it probably will not cross your mind.
It was just an animal, and you can always buy another one, right?
I hope those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out, and can't get the picture out of your head. I deal with this every day 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 they are affecting go much further than the pets that are dumped at the shelter. Between nine 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 to. The truth hurts, but reality is what it is.
I just hope I maybe changed one person's mind about breeding their 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.
— Lisa Edwards
Dade County Animal Shelter
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