I don't remember the random trail of links that brought me to this site a couple of nights ago, as I surfed around idly checking out the vegan news. But I came across an article that shook me to the core. But first, a little background....
In Western Massachusetts, we recently heard the chilling news that the MSPCA is closing 3 of its 7 shelters across the state, one of them being in our area. As quoted in a recent issue of the Pet Gazette "'For the good of the entire organization we need to close down certain facilities," MSPCA spokesperson Brian Adams said recently, pointing to a loss in revenue as the reason for the closures." The economy is tough indeed.
And it seems like the volume of pet surrenders is rising as people face foreclosure or the downsizing of income. As the same article points out, "'Foreclosure’ is now a check box on our surrender sheets, when it had not been there in the past.'" Honestly, I cannot think of a worse thing than to lose your livelihood, your income, perhaps your relationship, your home...and then to lose your pet too. It must be the last straw for some people. It certainly would be for me.
There could be nothing worse. Unless, I suppose, you happened to be the animal in question, the one who is surrendered. The pet sacrificed to the 'economic downturn'. For the animals, it is a lot worse. I imagine that the owners let themselves believe that their animal will be adopted. Of course, s/he is a good dog, a great dog with kids, loyal, funny and loves to give kisses....s/he is bound to find a good home.....
And so off they go, leaving the animal in the 'care' of the shelter.
Which brings us back to the article I mentioned at the start of this post. I found it on Eye on the Sparrow, an all breeds/special needs dog rescue website and its raw honesty was painful to read. It is an open letter from a shelter manager in which she (?) lays out very clearly the situation of the surrendered 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.
The author then describes in clear terms the process that turns a surrendered animal into a
'corpse [that] 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.'
I don't have the heart to reproduce it in its entirety here, but it is something we should all know about.
Here's the link.
Please take a moment to read it.
The animals need us not to look away.
Not to retreat into the comparative comfort of ignorance.
Earlier this week, a coworker announced that a friend had just got a puppy, a gangly darling of a baby who hadn't yet even grown into its own feet. Puppies are magic, aren't they? All nose and feet and astonishment at their own tails. I would love to have a puppy, someone I could actually train to behave well - unlike my two rescue dogs, who do as they wish and have *me* expertly trained in the arts of cookie giving and pillow plumping.
But I will never buy one.
Because for every puppy purchased from a breeder, from a pet store, online, from an acquaintance whose dog 'has just had a litter', another dog in a shelter somewhere will take their final walk to 'The Room' where a 'euthanasia tech' will start the process that ends with the life draining out of yet another pair of 'sad, lost, confused eyes'.
Between nine and eleven million times per year.
All that waste. If that doesn't make you think twice about buying that cute puppy in the store window, I really don't know what will.
Stay vegan, Friends.