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They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy... Until they get to "The Room"

 
 
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:07 pm
Quote:
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


http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/aus/960931196.html
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Type: Discussion • Score: 11 • Views: 5,213 • Replies: 110

 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:25 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks, RG.

Though, I've got to say, it sounds like their euthanasia protocol is 20 years out of date. We do it much more smoothly than she describes.

(I assume she because the vast majority of shelter staff are female...)
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:29 pm
@patiodog,
I still remember the day I got Pacco vividly.. not to go on about it. Another thanks, RG, and also to the Sequoia Humane Society at the time. They had kept him a month. Later I heard they weren't taking dogs anymore, but I haven't double checked that.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:30 pm
@patiodog,
Still sad though. :-(

I've long been wrestling with whether or not it's a self-serving thing we do, to put the pets down.

I hear people argue that it's better than letting them be strays, and I know a stray's life isn't great and they can be sick, hungry and be hit by cars, but some part of me feels that it's better, more natural and at least they go on their own terms. Sometimes I think we do it because we don't want to share our cities with stray dogs more than out of genuine concern for their welfare.

I realize that inbred purbreeds aren't that natural, and have limited ability to fend for themselves, but in third world countries where strays are largely left to fend for themselves I see them live lives I consider to be better than killing them.

It's a tough call for me and I've been wanting to get your input on that for a long time.

This story has had me a bit depressed today, because I know that as Harry gets old I may have to see the day he is euthanized (depending on his health).

:-(
patiodog
 
  3  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:52 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I think cats are better suited to stray/feral life than dogs are, in general. In fact, as a species, they are so well suited to it that they are one of the most devastating predatory invasive species around. Nonetheless, much of their success stems from prolific reproduction -- even here in the frozen north it's not uncommon for a queen to have three litters in a year. There's been a big push in our area to get barn cats and feral cats sterilized to try and reduce numbers. I see what happens to housecats who end up stray, though, and it can be pretty damned ugly.

Where I live, stray dogs really don't stand much of a chance. It was 30 below zero (Fahrenheit) here a few nights ago, and we had a run of cats with frostbitten ears the next day. And dogs are nowhere near as good at finding shelter as cats are. Also, of course, there are public health risks associated with feral dog populations, from rabies to predation to acting as reservoirs for diseases affecting both humans and pet populations...

I tend to see domestic animals as the responsibility of humans, from start to finish. It's ecologically irresponsible, aside from anything else, to let their populations grow out of control because we can't be bothered to take care of them ourselves.

That's my (somewhat incoherent) take, at any rate...
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:59 pm
@patiodog,
Well it did make me consider weather, I haven't lived in cold weather for years now, and the examples I see don't have to take that into account.

It's a good point, dogs exist in such climates largely due to human responsibility and many of them have been bred to not withstand it.

It's a tough one, but I just don't think our responsibility is being fulfilled by killing them. I think breeders should subsidize their permanent care in the form of taxes on their activity or something.

I've thought that pet owners should be made responsible, but that would probably lead to more abandonment of the animals and it would be tough to police....

I think ultimately making them taxed highly and increasing their value might be the only thing that would tip the scales towards more responsible ownership and more shelter adoption.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 09:59 pm
It's sad indeed.
All our dogs stayed with us until they were too old and sick to continue and needed to be put down. Nonetheless, it is one of the hardest thing I've ever done and will be doing. Our Max is already 13 years old, still going strong
but one of these days......

Perhaps it would be more humane to let them fend for themselves on the
streets. At least they have a as good of a chance to be adopted by some people
or at least get fed by someone.

hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:08 pm
@CalamityJane,
Quote:
Perhaps it would be more humane to let them fend for themselves on the
streets. At least they have a as good of a chance to be adopted by some people
or at least get fed by someone.


How about we try to be humane to humans first, can we do that? It is not in our interest to have unwanted dogs either rooming the streets or institutionalized. we should continue to dispatch them to doggy heaven with haste, and should start to work to limit their ability to reproduce except in the hands of reputable breeders.

I do have a rescue, so i don't exactly practice what i preach...
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:20 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Um, we do rather more than kill them. Sometimes we even try to find them homes...


I've certainly thought about the potential of legislation to curb breeding and encourage more responsible ownership, but I haven't really come up with anything I thought would be particularly effective. The majority of dogs who come through our doors as unclaimed strays or as abandoned animals are either mixed-breed dogs (which is to say, accidents) or pit bulls. I don't think there's any realistic way to tax pups that come from accidental matings, and pit bull breeders (at least in our area) are not operating in societal circles that are going to be subject to effective regulation.

You see, one of our shelter's biggest focuses is providing low-cost spay and neuter services to low-income individuals. (Officially, in fact, I am not a "shelter veterinarian," I am a "spay/neuter veterinarian" who is employed by the shelter.) Because of the number of abused and abandoned pit bull pups who come through our doors, we are not scheduling any non-pit bull dogs into this program in the foreseeable future.

As part of the program, we offer low-cost vaccination at the time of surgery. Owners can have their animal vaccinated for "distemper" or not, it's up to them. But they have to either provide proof of current rabies vaccination or pay the nominal fee (I think it's around five bucks) to have us vaccinate the dog. The pit bulls are almost never vaccinated against rabies, whether they're 12 weeks old or 8 years old. Which means that they're not registered, because proof of rabies vaccination is required to register a dog in this state. And if they're not registered, how could you even know about their reproductive status, let alone tax it?

Or something. Just thinking "out loud," really.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:30 pm
@patiodog,
patiodog wrote:
Um, we do rather more than kill them. Sometimes we even try to find them homes...


I don't mean shelter staff, I know they do what they can with the funds available to them. I mean societies on the whole, who dump money into their creation but not enough into keeping them alive.


Quote:
I've certainly thought about the potential of legislation to curb breeding and encourage more responsible ownership, but I haven't really come up with anything I thought would be particularly effective. The majority of dogs who come through our doors as unclaimed strays or as abandoned animals are either mixed-breed dogs (which is to say, accidents) or pit bulls. I don't think there's any realistic way to tax pups that come from accidental matings, and pit bull breeders (at least in our area) are not operating in societal circles that are going to be subject to effective regulation.


Hmm, that sounds like there might be a lot of variety from case to case, the craigslist post speaks of there being a lot of purebreds as well. I do see how there's not much in way of effective solutions for types you see though.

Do you think DNA tracking and tagging would help? For example, require all breeders to submit DNA samples to a database, and require microchip implants on all pets sold, and then try to place the responsibility on the pet buyers who abandon them?

I guess it sounds outlandish even as I type it.

Quote:
You see, one of our shelter's biggest focuses is providing low-cost spay and neuter services to low-income individuals. (Officially, in fact, I am not a "shelter veterinarian," I am a "spay/neuter veterinarian" who is employed by the shelter.) Because of the number of abused and abandoned pit bull pups who come through our doors, we are not scheduling any non-pit bull dogs into this program in the foreseeable future.


Would a requirement to only sell spayed/neutered dogs help? Or a tax on intact animals? Maybe a license would be needed to have an intact animal and the proceeds can go to additional care?

I know you must have put a lot of thought into all of this, but it's a frustratingly hard to solve problem that I've been thinking a lot about recently and I am wondering if there have been any good ideas put forward to deal with this problem.

Quote:
And if they're not registered, how could you even know about their reproductive status, let alone tax it?


Yeah, at some level it'd be pretty hard to regulate. And if breeders here are any indication I suspect there are a lot of backyard breeders out there who would not be easy to regulate.

But I wonder if some kind of regulation would have enough impact with the more reputable breeders, and maybe tip the balance a bit, and give the animals a bit more of a chance to make it.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 10:50 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Breeders here...at least of the cats I look at...are demanding long discussions with prospective owners about cat-care. They want to know about your living circumstances, what other cats you have had etc.

Of course , you can lie...but at least they are attempting to get a sense of where the critters are going.

They are also very often now only selling animals which have already been desexed, which means that kittens ARE very expensive.

patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 11:00 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I'll tell you what the single biggest influence I've seen lately on people's attitudes regarding breeding of pets is, and I find it both reassuring and disheartening: Oprah Winfrey talking about it. She spoke out on puppy mills on a show (or something; I can't say I really follow the woman's actions), and there was a visible ripple among her audience of "Oh, I'm going make sure I don't get one of those animals." I heard people talk about it, a friend of mine who works at one of the more economonical clinics in town saw it -- when that woman talks, people listen.

And that's what it comes down to, I think -- getting people to change their attitudes without coercion. Dog licenses in our county are more expensive for unneutered animals than they are for neutered animals, but the difference is a small percentage of what it would cost to have the surgery done at a private clinic and, anyway, the people most likely to register their animals are the people who are least likely to be allowing their animals to be bred, whether or not they have them fixed. You could, I suppose, make the difference much greater, but that's just going to result in people not licensing their animals at all. You could, I suppose, impose stiff fines for not registering animals, but there's not really personnel available to step up enforcement and whatever local leaders put it in place would be sure to lose their seats at the next election...

What we do -- the low-income spay/neuter programs we run -- probably could have a sizeable impact if they were operated on a much larger scale, but we already encounter some understandable friction from small clinics who see us as cutting into their bottom line. It's actually the impression of a lot of people in this line of work (and I think has been supported in a handful of small studies, but don't quote me on it) that people who have their pet spayed or neutered, even reluctantly, are more likely to pay for veterinary care for their animal in the future, but that's bound to sound specious to the clinic owner who can barely stay afloat and who makes needed money from spay and neuter surgeries. And the last several months have been very hard on veterinary clinics. And the grant money that allows us to subsidize the surgery we are doing can only be spread so thin before we start to lose money ourselves...

At any rate, I really don't think there is a top-down, government-mandated solution to the problem of pet overpopulation. I think it has to start with changes in attitudes at every level of society that it is shameful to have your intact pet wandering the neighborhood, or to be breeding in your backyard because puppies or cute or pit bulls are badass or whatever, or to buy an animal at a store (which, thanks in part to Ms. Winfrey, is more and more unfashionable already), or to drive across two states to get a Labrador retriever from a particular breeder when there are bunch of them sitting in runs at the shelter across town.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 11:05 pm
@dlowan,
we generally have Newfoundlands, which go for about $1200, we are made to promise that we will never abandon or turn over to inferior care our new charges. we must promise to bring the animal back to the breeder if we can no longer care for them, or if that is impossible because we have moved too far away then call first and let the breeder tell us who to take the dog to.

Two days ago at costco I was trying to remember which food I switched to last time, as I did not used to buy from Costco. A lady next to me loading up multiple 50lb bags noticed and asked if she could help me. She explained all about the different dog foods, and asked about my dog. She explained that the food she was buying was the highest quality and was the one that was right for me. she is a breeder, it turns out. I was impressed.

I am all for more regulation and for letting breeders manage Dog reproduction.

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 11:10 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:
How about we try to be humane to humans first, can we do that?


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 11:11 pm
@patiodog,
I guess I've been hearing about it every since I could hear about it, and haven't seen much in way of change myself, but maybe I haven't been paying enough attention.
0 Replies
 
patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jan, 2009 11:16 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
But I wonder if some kind of regulation would have enough impact with the more reputable breeders, and maybe tip the balance a bit, and give the animals a bit more of a chance to make it.


Quote:
Breeders here...at least of the cats I look at...are demanding long discussions with prospective owners about cat-care. They want to know about your living circumstances, what other cats you have had etc.


We frequently talk about the class that is the "reputable breeder," and certainly they do exist. Which is all well and good, and I think people are increasingly aware that there is a difference between a "reputable breeder" and a "puppy mill." What I don't think most people who engage in this sort of discussion appreciate -- and people in this discussion, of course, are people who would only get an animal from a shelter or somebody they believe, rightly or wrongly, to be a responsible breeder -- is that many and perhaps most breeders exist somewhere in between, breeding animals more or less on purpose but not exactly for profit, providing some but not necessarily complete veterinary care, and maybe going to the length of having the buyer sign a completely non-binding contract agreeing to have the animal spayed or neutered when it is old enough...

As a large, quasi-public shelter, we don't often deal with these people directly,* but many of the small ad hoc rescues we do surgery for are very familiar with them, and sometimes in their attempts to rescue their animals provide them with a reliable source of income and an outlet for their more sickly or deformed products. These folks operate outside the tax structure, they advertise by word of mouth and through cheap or free classified ads, and they tend to be willfully or blissfully unaware of how hard some people are working to mitigate the effects of the damage they are doing. One woman I was talking to in a small town last week was exasperated to have found out that the woman she had spent years convincing to give up her colony of breeding cats had happily told a friend that morning that she was going to start breeding Chihuahuas.


*We do, however, frequently receive transfers of a couple to a few dozen animals at a time from rescues that collect animals from these breeders, then find that they don't have the resources to care for them. One of these rescues I strongly suspect is working both ends of the spectrum -- breeding and rescuing, and selling at significant profit -- and is coughing up some of the most parasite-ridden critters we've ever seen. An investigation has been pending for some time...
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 12:53 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down".


I got this far, Robert, & I couldn't read any more.

I know. I know already.

I know from visiting these places to adopt my next cat, when it's time again.

I can't stand the atmosphere of these places. It's so distressing.
I can't understand how the people who work there can stand doing what they have to do .. nor the volunteers who work in these "animal shelters" ... These people love animals & are put in this terrible situation "managing" the end results of the irresponsibility & stupidity of humans.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 09:23 am
When I read your post, Robert, I grieved again for my Dolly and Madison. Many of you will recall my posts about losing my two dogs Dolly 1 (killed by a hound dog) and Madison 1(whose spine failed and euthanized by my vet). My second pair of Dolly 2 and Madison 2 I got in 2008 are the sweetest dogs I've ever known. You will recall that I rescued (bought) Dolly 2 from a puppy mill that I tried to put out of business. Cost me a lot to get her healthy, but she is a wonderful dog. Maddy 2 had been in the breeder's kennel until he was 3 months old with no socialization. Maddy is the most loving dog you can imagine. My dogs and I love each other. I'm giving them a good and loving life, what all dogs deserve. But I'm getting old and at 80, I'm determined that they will continued to be loved when I'm gone. My daughter is moving to ABQ in March, so I hope my concern will be gone when she's here to care for them.

BBB
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 09:44 am
@Robert Gentel,
Hard to read, important to read though.

Here's my question as someone who will maybe (still only maybe) be getting a dog in the future:

Shelter person on craigslist wrote:
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.


This doesn't sound very appealing in terms of getting a dog from a shelter. I know that some dogs are fostered, and that does sound like the more appealing option. But there are often still issues with separation anxiety, etc.

In terms of a balance of doing what is better for society and trying to get the best dog possible for our family, is it much worse to get a dog directly from a family whose dog accidentally had puppies? I'm sure it's hard to know whether this was truly an "accident" or whether it's actually a puppy mill. I've seen several local ads since I've been looking that seem convincing, though. (Unglamorous mixed breeds, low prices, pictures of household kids holding puppies in a home environment, etc.)

It seems like if that's the case, it's just skipping a problematic step. As in, instead of accidental puppy --> shelter --> exposure to shelter diseases, separation anxiety, etc. --> adopt puppy from the shelter, it's accidental puppy --> adopt (puppy goes directly from mom + siblings to a permanent home, and never ends up at the shelter which it would otherwise).

Am I deluding myself here? And if so, in what ways?
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 10:14 am
I think the writer of the essay tried to make it sound as horrid as possible. They can be horrid places but as patiodog pointed out, most are not that awful. There are some amazing shelters where they work hard to make sure animals are socialized and healthy.

I think part of the problem some people have with shelter dogs is that the person nurtures the dog's anxienty "poor little dog, afraid of this and that, <petpetpet>" so the dog learns the anxiety is expected and that it is okay behavior -- even that it is good behavior.

I think part of the problem with stray dogs is that they often form packs and dog packs can be dangerous.

Our city has a great feral cat program run mostly by volunteers. They go to specific neighborhoods, trap the feral cats, spay or neuter them, notch their ear for easy identification, then release the cats back into the neighborhood where they were found. The program has been amazingly successful.
 

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