It may be frustrating and hurtful some days scrolling down Facebook and reading banners with odes to animals, poetry to animals like”I will always keep you forever, I will never leave you in an animal shelter. My commitment to you will never die.” There’s another banner showing a picture of a dog driving the car, along with his owner running 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’ll read comments from people when they see a post of a”pitiful looking dog staring at a shelter wall”. The post calling out for someone on FB to rescue this poor dog. The comments from individuals, many of them are in judgement of the men and women who dropped the dog off will say”how do they do that”,”how can someone be so cruel.”
And I ask myself what do they think 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 more than five years. It was tiring 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.
One day, two guys walked to the shelter and placed a small lap dog in addition to the counter. I put my incoming form on the counter, grabbed a pencil, didn’t 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 three or more times to make sure they got it. Never looking at them. Just kept on going with my paperwork.
Finally, after a few minutes, one of the men asked me”he will not get put to sleep, right. He’s very adoptable. People today 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 is Carol. We spoke 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 very cute and it was 99.9% sure, this dog could be adopted in Marin in a snap.
At this point, I was humiliated. I didn’t want Carol to measure in. I realized I had screwed up and I was not really taking a look at the reality of the circumstance. I had been in judgement over both of these good looking, affluent looking guys and wasn’t seeing their heart.
“I am so sorry. Give me another opportunity to help you. Yes, your dog is cute and his chances of being put to sleep are next to nothing unless he got really really sick and we could not treat him.”
One of the guys, let out a huge sigh and smiled at me. “I am so happy Janet. Thank you Janet. Thank you. This is so hard for me. I have AIDS and I am going into hospice. I wish to make sure my dog gets a good home.”
And I don’t need to tell you what kind of lesson that taught me twenty six years of age. 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. And I did the best I could do rehoming them. When I was living on the ranch in Lake County, I had to return my pony back to the rescue I adopted him from. I was so broke I knew I wouldn’t have the ability to provide him proper trimming and the sort of feed that 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 did not respond to my message. I think she read the note, because it reveals”seen” on messenger on Facebook. . I won’t write her again. I 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.
Recently, I was sharing a cup of coffee with a friend of mine and she was telling me how she had 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 do it.
People’s lives change. They suffer losses. They shed rentals that let animals and can’t find new ones which do. Folks get sick. Folks die. People realize they really can’t take care of a dog, a horse, a cat. People lose their jobs and can’t afford feed, vet care, or training.
Folks give up animals for a number of reasons.