Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Letter from a Shelter Manager

written by matthew on o1 august 2o1o
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. First off, all of you people who have ever surrendered a pet to a shelter or humane society should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. Just so you know there's a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it’s dumped at? Purebred or not! About 25% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses: "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets? Or they say "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 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 & 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 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. 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, but not for long . Most dogs 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 the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

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. Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes 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 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) 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 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. You see shelters are trying to make money to pay employee pay checks and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too, so we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug, we just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had to have a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated or tranquilized and then euthanized, but to do this procedure correctly would cost more money so we do not follow what is right for the animal, we just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Shelters do not have to have a vet perform their euthanasia’s so even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not loosing money.

When it all ends, your pets 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? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? 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 who still have a beating heart and have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head, I deal with this everyday. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and start educating the public. Do research, do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet. These shelters and humane societies exist because people just do not care about animals anymore. Animals were not intended to be disposable but somehow that is what they are these days. Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog (or cat), and breeders are the ones blamed for this. Animal shelters and rescue organizations are making a hefty profit by keeping this misconception going.

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 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 persons 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 and it made me want to adopt”. THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT.
In most states the meat is processed and used in dog food for can and dry kibble. It's labelled 100% meat! However the chemicals to kill the dogs is still in the meat... so now your dog is getting slowly poisoined!


  1. Wow, I don't know about anyone else, but this made me look at the shelter in a whole new light. I will never ever take my dogs there. I had a dog, that recently passed away from cancer, and I never gave him up. We were homeless together, but it was better than being without him! To those that get a pet just to have one, and then take them to the shelter, Shame on YOU!! There is no good excuse, EVER!

  2. Thank you for sharing this... EVERYONE needs to read it... animal lover or not... It may spark the humanity and compassion back into those who have lost their souls. Thank you again for the eye opener... Shelters become an out of sight out of mind place to dump "unwanted" family pets... My animals are my babies and the thought of someone not taking care of them the same way I would breaks my heart... We have a "back up plan" (close friends have already committed to stepping in and welcoming them in their home...) just in case god forbid something happened to my husband or I... The thought of them ending up in a shelter or with out a home,it's not something I want to think of because even that saddens me.

    Thank you again for posting this.

  3. Yes this is the terrible reality of most shelters. and as heartbreaking as it is, its even more heartbreaking to see people judge a shelter based on what other shelters are like. its not the shelter that hurts its the animals. Luckily our local shelter (griffin pond) does have people trained to handle the situation above, they would never put a dog, cat,etc... through this unless absolutely necessary. And when it is necessary they ALWAYS tranquilize them so they do not have to suffer the way the animals above do. Yes it is always tragic when an animal has to be put to sleep, and I truly wish there wasn’t a need to shelters, rescues, etc…. but the only way animals will not be put to sleep is if people actually adopt! Griffin pond is also one of the “rare” shelters that doesn’t put time limits on an animal. As long as it is still happy and not a danger to the public it stays regardless of breed, age, gender, etc…You walk down the rows of cages in the shelter and every other one is a pit (go figure, cause they’re such “demon dogs” right). People need to spread the world about how wonderful this breed is and how with proper training can be the prefect pet in almost any situation. Are they breed for everyone, no. But anyone willing to put in the time, energy and life long commitment can own one of these dogs and become an ambassador for the breed. You have the power to make every shelter a no kill! Which is they goal, but they are in serious risk of closing down due to they’re commitment to the animals. Please don’t categorize them with other shelters, come and see for yourself the wonderful work they are doing with the very very very small budget (all donations, no government or state funding) and help keep less dogs and cats from being euthanized.

  4. Thanks for sharing – I have adopted 5 animals, because I have volunteered and witnessed things people should never have to see if they love animals.We recently adopted a senior dog who is deaf and has really bad arthritis, we are giving him a year or 2 with love and peace. People need to also realize in many parts of our country animals are still being shot, killed with heart sticks and baked in the gas chambers – I think euthanasia is a light term for what goes on in most county shelters. People need to own up to being responsible, what kills me most is these low class humans dumping their pets off at the shelter with the lamest excuse while they have their kids in tow – if we do not teach our children about being a responsible pet owner.
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  5. I found a family of 5 feral cats a year ago. In that time , my. Friend and I have built them a shelter that they call home,had the 3 males trapped and neutered,and. Fed them twice a day. The females were very difficult to trap. But when we did, we couldn't have them Spayed because they were pregnant. Aftwr the kittens were born , we took care of them also. Many of which , we found homes for. When they were adopted, we had a verbal agreement that the new owners could return them if it didn't work out. Additionally, they had to agree to have them Spayed / neutered. If when it came time to have this done as long done , of they didn't have the means to do so , my friend and I would locate a mobile or low cost program and we would pay the cost so they can continue to keep their new pet. We finally did get the two females Spayed. Then two weeks ago. We were very upset to find that someone dropped off 5 more kittens. Then the following day, their mother. We have an appointment to have the mother Spayed next week As for the kittens, we will take care of them until we find them a home . If that's not possible , they will be Spayed /.neutered and we will take care of them for as long as they live . I'm Not telling you this because I want a pat on the back. I am trying to get our local government to adopt the TNR program . There is an overabundance of cats running our city streets. Our local shelter is The Griffin Pond Animal Shelter. They do the best that they can under the circumstances. I know that they ate overcrowdedwith cats also. If the City of Scranton adopted the TNR Program , they wouldn't be overcrowded. Stay and feral cats. The shelter would beable to focus its attention on the unwanted cats living indoors and focus on having them adopted. It ous very disturbing to me that so many beautiful and HEATHY cats are destroyed to make room for others to wait to be destroyed.

  6. WOW! I'm ashamed to admit that I once gave up on a loyal friend. I will never do it again. Thank you for putting this out there it gives people like me a true reality check. Never again! I have always regretted giving up on our dog for what ever reason, it was just an excuse! Just like the writer stated it is important to do the research before looking for a pet. Know the adult size, training habits, and full disclosure of the breed. Due to remorseful reason I volunteer at shelters and remind myself of my irresponsibility, I will never be able to take back what I did to my furry friend but I have learned and try to make a difference with other pets at the shelter.