View Full Version : Letter to the editor of my newspaper.

06-19-2007, 10:08 AM
I'm considering sending the following in as a guest editorial in my local newspaper. I've been working on it for a few days now and think I'm about finished up. It was supposed to be a simple letter to the editor but those have to be less than 300 words and this one exceeds 1000. So she's considering a guest editorial but the newspaper "top dog" says it's too graphic and not age-appropriate.

Anyway....tell me what you think?


As a foster home for **** Animal Control, I see my share of pregnant animals each year and hear more (pathetic) stories about how or why a dog ends up at the shelter than I care to hear. Though I have tried to keep track of each and every dog that comes through my door, by mid-year the numbers get lost and animals coming and going become routine. My best guess, for a total of dogs and puppies I alone fostered in 2006, would have to be well over 150, but probably closer to 200. I have never had less than six animals at one time; and, so far, my record high (at one given time) stands at 39.

The fact is, there are far too few foster homes available to care for YOUR animals. Many foster parents have two or three litters born each month and our homes quickly become over-run by animals in desperate need of attention and care. Despite our willingness to take in two, three and sometimes even four pregnant dogs at a time, sadly, there are always animals out there who need us. But it’s not uncommon for foster homes get to the point where we just can’t house anymore, even if it is only temporarily. And at that point it doesn’t matter how many more pregnant dogs came in to the Shelter or how many puppies need fostering; when we’re full, we’re full and we simply can’t take any more, no matter how bad we may want to. That mother and those puppies will stay at the shelter.

Of course, that’s probably of no concern to the majority of you irresponsible pet owners. But, unfortunately, most of you have never been behind the closed doors of a shelter.

So here’s a little Animal Control 101 for you. I didn’t write the following, but its message is strong and with permission from the author I’m going to share it.

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.

Your pet will be confined to a small kennel in a room with about 50 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, there will be enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If there isn’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.

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 (not for long though). Most 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.

Define “destroyed” you ask? Here’s how it works 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 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.

The City of **** still uses the “chamber”. Your dog or cat will be left alone in the room, which will quickly fill with gas. He will choke as the controlled substance slowly fills and burns in his lungs. He’ll spasm and most likely vomit all over himself, while trying with all he’s got left to find any escape to fresh air. He won’t succeed though. He will die; either by slowly suffocating from the gas or from having choked to death on his own vomit.

Other areas destroy in what many consider a much less traumatic way. A euthanasia tech 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 have been covered with the squirts of blood and deafened by the yelps and screams.

Even with the “pink stuff”, they all don’t just “go to sleep” either. More often than not the animal will spasm for a while, gasp for air and even defecate on himself.

But it does all end sooner or later. And when it does, your once beloved pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed.

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 these thoughts and pictures every Saturday on my way home from Petsmart with my foster puppies that weren’t adopted that day. I can only keep them so long and it’s only a matter of time now before I’ll be asked to return them to the shelter; where they’ll be given the normal 72 hours to be adopted before being taken to “the room”.

I hate my job, I hate that it exists and I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes. You must learn to 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 and foster homes are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes for them to be adopted out to.

I have devoted my heart and soul to caring for your animals that were neglected and tossed out like yesterday’s garbage; but I am only human and emotions drain quickly. I hope what you have just read will convince at least one of you to reconsider taking your dog to the shelter, breeding your dog or buying one. I pray that all of you will walk into the City of *** Animal Shelter tomorrow and say “hey, I saw this letter to the editor in the paper and it made me want to adopt”.

You can hate me if you want to. Toss my words out as quickly as you tossed out the once beloved pet that interfered with your life by allowing the neighborhood mutt to breed her. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. Be a responsible pet owner--DON’T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER ANIMALS DIE! Do whatever it takes to have your pet spayed or neutered. It is the ONLY way to stop this animal shelter madness.

06-19-2007, 10:13 AM
I didn't write the stuff in italics. I got that in an email from someone. It's really long and goes into a lot more detail so I can post the entire thing another time if you guys want to read all of it.

06-19-2007, 12:24 PM
Its got the shock factor it needs, but the part about euthing, not the vein tearing, but the gasping I think goes too far, and not because its not the truth, but because those who have loved their pet and had to make the god awful decision to euth have lived this. I'm included in this list, I held my beloved Shilo to her last moments, and as she convolsed and as it was put defecated on herself I begged her forgivness for what I had done, despite the stroke and the brain leasion, I felt I had been wrong doing what I was doing to speed her passing, that I was hurting her more. Now mind you she was heavily sedated, but I was told by my vet in soft hushed tones, that she was already gone at this point, that she was feeling no pain, and that the convoulstions were simply muscle spasms of dieing, like the human body exhaling.

So to hear that my vet may have been lieing to me only makes the whole experiance the much worse to handle, and I would never wish that on anyone who loved their animal enough to ease their journey from this world. Dose that make sense? And it wasen't the artical that made me cry, but writing this reaspons to it as old memories of that horrible day came flooding back. Other then that I think it was well written.

06-19-2007, 12:42 PM
I understand where you're coming from and I didn't mean to upset you. I've had to put one dog to sleep for medical reasons too so I know how difficult it is to watch. You're vet was correct in a sense. The way I understand it, the brain is the first thing to "die". But it takes several seconds for the rest of the body to "catch up" and "die" too. Your dog did not feel any pain.

But knowing how you felt having to do this once, imagine having to do it 6, 7, 8 times a day EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if you don't have some kind of life-long attachment to an animal, you own them or work with them because you enjoy them and you want to give them the best. But when it comes down to it, you can't give a home to every single animal and your job requires you to euthenize. Your best friend or not, having to do it half a dozen times every single day takes it's toll on you.

So you're right, it is a blow to the gut to people who have had to do it for the right reasons. But it's an even deeper blow to those who haven't and those who don't know there are those of us who have to do it several times a day every single day.