My friend posted an anonymous letter from an animal shelter manager (I’ve copied and pasted it below for you to read), and as I read it, I was filled with sadness because of the cruelty we, as humans, are able to inflict.
I don’t often think of the cruel and mean things that we are capable of because I have had a sheltered and all too precious existence. Perhaps, it is also my own ignorance and willful disregard for the uglier truths around me, but I am always taken aback when I contemplate how great our reach is and what we are capable of. As I have matured, I think a lot about the uglier side to being human.
Humans are capable of great things. Great in ways that are astounding, but also in ways that are terrifying. We feel a grand array of emotion that exceeds even the vocabulary we have devised to express it. We are capable of inflicting the same emotion we feel. We understand loss, and we know how to inflict that same sense of loss onto another human, another being. We are capable of taking advantage of innocence.
I’d like to believe that life is simply filled with all of the beautiful things that we like, but I know that life is not. I know that there is a time and place for all that is not kind or nice. There are parts of life where we must struggle, fight, and do hurtful things to maintain the niceness that we strive and aim for. It’s a sensitive balance of maintaining a certain level of not-pretty behavior to be able to continue to hold on to all that is pretty and precious to us. Unfortunately, often times in the struggle for what we think is “better” we lose sight of the amount of cruelty that we dole out to get there.
The point I want to make, is that sometimes in trying to make our lives cleaner, prettier, and more desirably, we inflict such terrible fate on other lives around us. The letter pasted below is about dogs. Animals that we treat as disposable things and possessions that are only valuable until they no longer amuse us. These animals are disposed in unspeakably cruel manner, especially after we brought their existence about for sheer amusement. It’s a sickening truth of the cruelty we can express onto something we find less meaningful than ourselves.
However, my point is not simply about these poor shelter dogs, instead I want to point out the parallels between the disposal of these innocent animal lives with the same careless and unspeakable cruelty that we dispose of the “unwanted” human lives. Disposal, death, condemnation, abuse… these are all ugly things to subject to any life, let alone innocent lives.
I have a theory that all life is innocent, it is only an action that can be guilty. No life should be taken lightly, whether animal or human or inanimate. All life is innocent and should be treated with the same respect that we would want for our own.
Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts because I was so disturbed by this article, and even more disturbed because I know this amount of cruelty that happens in animal shelters happens in life to human lives… and no one and nothing deserves and existence that is so miserable, painful, and cruel.
The shelter manager’s letter:
“I am posting this (and it is long) because 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.
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.
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.
No shortage of excuses
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?
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 bringing her inside, 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, and how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?
Well, let me tell you. Dead pet walking!
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 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, rottweiler, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted.
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, though not for long. Most pets 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.
The grim reaper
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. That is, until they get to “The Room”.
Every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks 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 their size and how freaked out they are). A euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They 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 it’s leg. 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?
Liberty, freedom and justice for all
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 do everyday 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 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 is 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 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 thing on craigslist and it made me want to adopt”.
That would make it all worth it.”