Sunday, July 18, 2010

Public Service Announcement: A Letter From A Shelter Manager

I can't take credit for the following- I found it on Facebook, and when I read it, I was extremely moved. I thought it really deserved sharing. I believe the author's name is Samantha- but that would be all I know about her.

I am not one to criticize someone for adopting from a breeder- Lucy was adopted from a breeder. I have nothing against shelters & rescues or the dogs that they place in homes. I have a lot of respect for the work that they do and the very important service that they provide in our communities.

The important messages that I got from this post:

1. Know what you're getting into when you do adopt a dog. All puppies are cute. All puppies grow into big dogs, unfortunately they don't stay little forever! Dogs need love, stability, shelter, food & water, affection and they need training. If you are not willing to commit to this for the rest of the dogs natural life- then don't adopt a dog.

Before we adopted Lucy, I spent hours online reading about boxers, talked to other boxer owners and read every book I could find about boxers. While I'm not willing to declare myself a boxer expert- I'll certainly say that I definitely had a very realistic view of what to expect of Lucy's temperament, personality, energy level, and her needs before we ever adopted her. Each individual breed has it's own personality and temperament and not every breed is right for every home and every living situation.

2. Unfortunately, people adopting animals without knowing what they're getting into never stop to think what's going to happen to that poor animal if they wake up one morning and decide "This just isn't for me." Animals are living breathing things- some may same I'm crazy- but animals have feelings and emotions- and it's extremely devastating for an animal to all of a sudden be uprooted from their families. No one would ever walk into a shelter with a child and say " This kid's gotten a little bigger than we thought it would" or " This child is so bad- he gets into everything- we don't want him anymore"- but they'll do it with a pet. AAGH!

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.


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

For those of you that care --- please repost this to at least one other person. Let's see if we can get this all around the World and have an impact.


  1. So sad and so true.

    I'll have to think about this but can I really 'repost' if I get up to it?

  2. You absolutely can repost... This letter is making it's way across the Facebook airwaves as I type!

  3. I hope it strikes a chord with a lot of people! I have four purebred dogs here who were all adopted. They are the very lucky minority. It is so difficult for me to read some of the blogs I've found where people are going on about breeding their dogs. I just want to ask them if they are blind to all the animals out there being dumped at shelters every day. I hope this powerful message touches many.

  4. That letter made me want to cry. I got one of my dogs from a shelter. They told me that she'd been there for awhile. Which means if I hadn't taken her, she would have been destroyed soon. She was a wonderful dog who added so much to my life. I hate to think of her life prior to me.

    The two dogs I have now are both from puppy mills. I got Shiver from a pet store. Yes, I know -- not good! It's just helping support the puppy mills! Chico's first year of life was spent in a puppy mill. He was locked up in a small cage and only let out to go potty and to get bizzy with a lady friend to make more babies. He received little to no human affection. The next owners kept him outside or in the garage most of the time. I hope that his life is considerably happier now that he's with me. He loves to be outside but I don't make him stay out there.

    I didn't do any research at all on chihuahuas before I got them but I would strongly recommend that others do some before they get any breed they're interested in. Just so you know what you're in for.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Obviously, we are Siberian Husky fans, but almost all are rescues (Natasha is the exception). I cringe when people tell me that they always wanted a Sibe because it is cute. Trust me, when you come home to discover a couch eaten (Frankencouch - google it - it is mine), cute is the last thing through your mind. Unless, of course, you are deranged like me and grab your camera as you laugh.

    Or my favorite - do they shed? Just twice a year - January through June and July through December is my standard answer as I reach down and pull a handful of hair from the closest dog.

    But the reality is that EVERY breed has some quirk or quirks that the potential owner had better truly understand.

    I am sure that it is true for every breed, but I am always stunned at the sheer number of pure bred Sibes in shelters.

  6. You know, research is so important when picking a dog! I didn't research Dachshunds. I didn't know a lot of the issues they face... of course, I am not one to give up on my animals so it doesn't matter to me, however, they are very difficult to train and housebreak and a lot of them end up in shelters for this reason. It's sad. So many good dogs end up in shelters because of the reasons listed above. I just do not understand it at all! It makes me angry. Sometimes I want to stand at the door and tell people horrible things like "you know your dog is going to die when you leave it here. at least have the decency to find it a home!" Thanks for sharing. Tough to read but so important that people understand the truth.

  7. I'm late getting around to all the blogs on Be the Change but I"m glad I got to yours. This is so heartbreaking and important. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Very true and very sad. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Hi, we popped over to say Hello - Lucy is beautiful! What a very powerful post.
    We are both from rescues, Martha was fostered before her adoption but her original owners kept her in private kennels!
    No different from rescue in that she was deprived of human company for too long and everyday household noises for six months of her young life.
    We dogs need homes, families and love ... not simply food and water.
    If humans researched bassets they would know we were 'stubborn' and not have to put us in rescue cos we 'don't do as we are told' or we 'smell'!

    In the UK most rescues have a 'no kill' policy.
    Not all but most but again it is hard to fund so many animals in rescues - nearly all dependent on donations.

    Thanks for the post - we are currently having a home and away kind of summer but look forward to catching up with you again.

    Martha and Bailey xxx

  10. Reading this letter was really painful, but it's also great that you have shared it. Everyone likes to pretend this kind of thing doesn't go on, but the fact is it does on a daily basis. I don't know how this woman does the work that she does and stays sane. Every person who has a pet or is thinking about getting one, needs to read this. I want to go out and adopt every pet from every shelter in town after reading this!