It can be frustrating and hurtful some days scrolling down Facebook and reading banners with odes to animals, poetry to animals like”I will keep you forever, I will never leave you at an animal shelter. My commitment to you will never perish.” There’s another banner showing a picture of a dog driving the car, and his owner operating behind the car and it says something to the effect.” That’s what you get for dumping me in the animal shelter.”
Once in a while, I will read comments from people when they see a post of a”pitiful looking dog staring at a shelter wall”. The article calling out for someone on FB to rescue this poor dog. The comments from individuals, many are in judgement of the men and women who dropped the dog off will say”how do they do this”,”how can someone be so cruel.”
And I ask myself what do they believe an animal shelter is for? If we’re going to have animals as pets, there will remain animal shelters. I worked for the Marin Humane Society for a little over five years. It was exhausting at times receiving animals over the counter. Initially, I did get frustrated with people, because I was still young. I did not have much life experience. I was quick to judge.
One day, two men walked to the shelter and placed a small lap dog on top of the counter. I set my incoming form on the counter, grabbed a pen, did not look up and started asking them the list of questions on the form when pushing to them the”owner surrender questionnaire”. I started reciting our policy making sure to repeat the euthanasia policy over at least three times to be certain they got it. Again, never looking up.
Finally, after a few minutes, one of the men asked me”he will not get put to sleep, right. He is very adoptable. People want small dogs.” Again, I didn’t look the dog owner in the eye, I just recited the euthanasia policy. And than he said”where’s Carol. We talked to Carol and she said everything would be okay, our dog wouldn’t be murdered.”
I will stop here and say that the puppy was quite cute and it was 99.9% sure, this dog would be adopted in Marin in a snap.
At this point, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want Carol to step in. I realized I had screwed up and I was not really taking a look at the reality of the situation. I had been in judgement over both of these good looking, affluent looking guys and wasn’t seeing their heart.
I finally looked into their eyes. “I’m so sorry. Give me another chance to help you. Yes, your dog is cute and his odds of being put to sleep are next to nothing unless he got really really sick and we could not treat him.”
One of the men, let out a huge sigh and smiled at me. “I’m so happy Janet. Thank you. This is so hard for me. I have AIDS and I am going into hospice. I wish to make sure my little dog gets a great home.”
And I don’t need to tell you what kind of lesson that taught me twenty six years old. After I filled out the paperwork, I found Carol and handed her sweet little dog.
When I was losing my farm, I had to rehome animals. They were bonded. When I was living on the ranch in Lake County, I needed to return my pony back to the rescue I adopted him from. I was so broke I knew I wouldn’t be able to provide him proper trimming and the sort of feed he needed to prevent founder. I loved him. I cried when I walked him to the trailer that picked him up from me. Years later, I contacted the woman who adopted him to ask for a picture since I wanted to write a story about him. I wanted a picture to remember him by. All my pictures have been lost and destroyed from the past. She didn’t respond to my message. I think she read the note, since it reveals”seen” on messenger on Facebook. . I won’t write her again. I really don’t want to make someone feel uncomfortable. I’ll miss having a picture of”Little Eddie” to remind me of who he was and who he is and my love for him.
Lately, I had been sharing a cup of coffee with a friend of mine and she was telling me how she needed to spend a year on a plan to put her horses and her other creatures because she had to leave a relationship that was unhealthy for her. She cried on the way to work back and forth on her commute everyday for a year knowing she’d have to perform it. So much pain, so much sorrow people carry in silence.
People’s lives change. They suffer losses. They lose rentals that allowed animals and cannot find new ones which do. Folks get sick. Folks die. Folks realize they really can not look after a dog, a horse, a cat. People lose their jobs and can not afford feed, vet care, or training.
People give up animals for many reasons.