Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Overwhelmed, But Still Motivated

I am feeling overwhelmed today at just the sheer numbers of pets that are facing euthanasia. We are in the middle of kitten and puppy season, and I am reading emails almost hourly of mamas with puppies/kittens who will all die together. This is one of those family. Unless someone steps in before tomorrow morning, they will all leave us. We become a crueler, sadder world with every euthanasia, but I am particularly haunted by the killing of these very new lives and their devoted mothers who just want to take care of their new babies.

On most days, I can keep an eye on the long-term goals, and manage the heartbreak of knowing that we, as a community, allow the killing at least 219 animals a day because we, as a community, can't come up with a better solution. Every day, I look at every email and read about every pet that the shelters are trying to get out alive. It reminds me that even when I am tired, and frustrated, and angry, and broke, I need to just keep moving. It makes me continue to have some hope that eventually, we won't accept mass euthanasia as a viable animal control method.

But today, it's just overwhelming and sad and heartbreaking. Today, I feel the pain on a level that I don't often allow myself to feel. My challenge today becomes what to do with this pain. I can sit and just be sad. Or I can stay motivated. I can continue to work for these and other pets who face immediate death. I can continue to write grant proposals for more money to support our spay and neuter program.

And I can continue to ask you for help. Maybe you get tired of my asking. I understand. I am often tired, too. Maybe you think someone else will help this time. Sometimes, I think that, too. Then I get an email from a shelter rescue coordinator about pets that are still waiting after three or four pleas have been sent out. Maybe you are angry at me for asking again. That's ok -- I am often angry, too, at the people who refuse to make a lifelong commitment to the pets that rely on them.

I am asking for your help today. I am asking you to stay motivated and to stay engaged. I am asking you to take one action today that can help save the life of a pet who is danger of dying because we, as a community, are allowing it to happen. I am asking you to help keep me motivated.

These are the dogs and cats that are depending on you. Below are pictures of about 25% of the pets that I have been emailed about in the last hour before writing this post. Multiply this by 4 and then by 24, and you'll roughly imagine how many pets a day that I know are dying.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pets Can't Read Maps, and Don't Know Their Phone Numbers

We received two emails this week that just made me frustrated and sad. These weren't about cases of animal cruelty, or people trying to dispose of their pets because they had a baby or moving. While those reasons are common and infuriating, these two cases just make me realize how far we still have to go with educating pet owners.

The first was this email:

Dear AARF, We found the dogs standing in the middle of traffic in Tucker, GA. We took the dogs to a vet (DeKalb Animal Hospital) who scanned them for microchips. They had none, nor other identification. The vet guessed they were around three years old, and probably from the same litter. They are wearing collars with electric shock mechanisms. When fed a meal at the vets, they acted as if they hadn't eaten in a long time. They know the command SIT and took treats well. We will have to take them to the pound in the morning, as we cannot keep them.

Now, let's talk about the frustrating things in this email. First, these dogs had NO identification. No proper collar with a tag, no microchip, nothing. The only thing they were wearing was an electronic collar. I HATE electronic collars for so many reasons. (Click here to find out all of the reasons why I absolutely despise the use of shock collars as a method of containment, or for any reason, really.) My guess is that these dogs were left outside, in an unfenced area, when no one was home. Something peaked their interest and they ran through the boundary and tolerated the shock. Once they left their yard, why in the world would they cross the boundary and get shocked again to come back? So, off they went.

Because their owners relied on an ineffective containment method and neglected to put any kind of identification on them, these two dogs will now likely die at DeKalb County Animal Services.

The second email:

This is Oakley. He is a sweet, older male and was found with a pink Old Navy collar on, but no tags. His owner is listed as XXX, but the numbers are all wrong.

How did the rescuer know his name? Because he has a microchip! He was chipped at one of AARF's microchip clinics. We make the owners fill out the registration paperwork at the event, because about 70% of implanted microchips are never registered. But Oakley's owner moved at some point, and didn't bother to update her contact information. So, now sweet Oakley is in danger of ending up at animal control, because once again, his owner couldn't be bothered to put an ID tag on his collar and update his microchip information.

These are three dogs who should never be in the rescue system. They have families, somewhere. Because of their owners' negligence, they are now considers strays. And all three are at risk of dying in a shelter, because someone couldn't be bothered to put on a collar with an ID tag.

Don't let another 24 hours go by without outfitting your pets with proper identification. If your pet isn't microchipped, go to your vet for a chip or watch for our next microchip clinic. If your dog or cat is euthanized because he or she gets lost and has no ID, that's on you.

Remember, your pet doesn't know your phone number.