From microwaves to pets, I realize we are in a society where everything seems disposable these days including pets. Yes, I include pets when you think of 1.5 million healthy, lovable, family companionship pets: dogs, cats, puppies and kittens that end up in animal shelters euthanized because:
He’s no longer cute
He got too big
He’s too old
He doesn’t listen to me
He’s not potty trained
He leaves fur all over everything
I don’t have time for him
He requires too much time
I’m moving and can’t take him
I’m renovating my house
I’m having personal problems
I can’t afford him
He snapped at or bit my child
He barks too much
He chews on my stuff
He’s too hyper
I already have too many pets
My landlord won’t let me keep him
He doesn’t get along with my other pets
I or family member has or developed allergies
I don’t have the time to find him a home
The owner passed away and I can’t take him
He’s just a stray I found
The shelter will find him a good home…
The Cold Hard Truth…
Yes, I have a tendency to anthropomorphize, and the cold hard truth is your loving pet may never walk out of that shelter. Fact: Too many pets, too few homes.
He’s a good Dog, he’ll get adopted…
Seriously, this is how you treat your “fur-ever” pet? His years of companionship is rewarded with being taken to a strange place, separated from his toys & humans, left with strangers, caged with anywhere of up to 25 barking and crying dogs (all stressed & scared), and with over 220 million scent receptors his little brain is becoming overloaded with the smell of fear, death, dread, and betrayal that can’t be covered by any amount of antiseptic. He depended on you to feed and care for him and now is alone and afraid. He stood by your side and listened to you through the good and bad times, saw you through various jobs and relationships, loved you when you didn’t even love yourself, and yet YOU decide to end your relationship like this. You toss him away like he was nothing more than a disposable K-cup. He wakes up one morning and his whole world is destroyed. No more bed to call his own, no more toys, no more treats, no more brushing, no more belly rubs, no more human touch, no more play buddies, no more doggie day care, and most of all… no more family. He might have a cage to himself (which can be good or bad depending on breed & age), but if he’s in a large city intake shelter he could be sharing a community cage/pen where he’ll eat, sleep and defecate in the same cage with all the other scared & crying dogs. He’s still trying to process what he did wrong to land here, but his hope never fades as he waits patiently and obediently knowing you-will-come-back for him. Strangers approach and peer in through the bars, but he ignores them so they walk off. He is too scared to bark, too scared to acknowledge and be sociable. He is alone, he is depressed, and he is oh so very scared. He starts to tremble as he waits in his cold cage. Little does he know that each passing hour and day brings him closer to his disposal date. The smell of fear and death is heavy in the air.
He’s already been assigned a number and a date. His only contact with humans is when fed and his waste cleaned out. His final days of life are now spent among strangers in a strange place, stressed and terrified which makes this the worse “solution” imaginable for your loving companion who still holds out hope for your return. It isn’t until someone comes for him that he thinks he’s going for a walk or going home. Everyone is so friendly until it hits him… the smell. That smell he’s almost become accustomed is not fading, but getting stronger. It’s so strong now that he knows where he is being led and as much as he wants to be a ‘good boy’ he can’t help soil himself because he knows something bad is coming and it’s not ‘that good home’ he was promised when dropped off.
Approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized annually of which 25% are pure breeds.
Not all shelters are alike, but I guarantee no shelter likes to euthanize or be known as “puppy or kitten killers”. Shelter staff do care very much about the animals they take in, but the volume entering outnumbers families looking to adopt. Euthanasia protects the unwanted ones from the pain of a life without companionship while clearing much needed space for another surrendered pet. I strongly believe that failure to spay and neuter, adopting/buying without educating yourself on the responsibilities that come with pet ownership, and not learning about the breed you adopt contributes to the growing problem of overpopulation and “revolving door adoption returns”. For those of you who have adopted from a shelter, Congratulations! Please please be patient and understanding while your new dog or cat adjusts. A shelter experience is a traumatic one which for most pets is similar to PTSD. It will take a lot of time and patience. They say ‘time heals’ and it truly does as your pet becomes more comfortable with his surroundings, so don’t give up!
Since Rusty, my dachshund of 14 years passed away, I have found myself living in a Dachshund-less home for almost a year now. It-is-time. My morning routine now includes searching rescues, shelters, and ads for a dachshund/dachshund mix to fill the void left behind by him. It is that search that has led me to write the above as my heart breaks daily looking at so many healthy, loving, dogs & cats that have been surrendered, abandoned, and abused. I also know that many of the ones I am seeing are on borrowed time. A pet, whether it be dog, cat, horse, bird etc. should be a lifetime commitment by you. It sucks!