No Roses at the Animal Shelter

Tis the season and the antics at the shelter are in full swing – and not by the animals!

Photo by Samantha Hurley from Burst

One of the things this shelter does regularly is hold free adoption days where it’s just that – you can get a dog or cat for free. Sounds good? It is not. Granted, there are some honest, caring people who come committed to adopt an animal and give it the love and care it needs. But there are also those who lie and present a false picture of a huge, fenced-in yard, no other pets in the house, and so on.

One of these events was held a month ago, and a shelter favorite dog, Carlotta, was adopted by an older man who said all these things about the wonderful life Carlotta would have with him. Initial conversations after the adoption rang glaringly false About a week after he took her home, Carlotta was back. Not only was she back, but so was another dog, adopted the same day by his brother, only they never bothered to inform us of that fact. In fact, they live together. The man was told that Carlotta was not to live with any other dogs. When she arrived back at the shelter, we were told she fought with the other dog. She was a mass of cuts and bite marks, and needed surgery to close her wounds.

Another free event is happening this Saturday and I plan to be on the other side of the county while it’s taking place.

I have recently taken on another volunteer job at the shelter, and that is to follow up with adopters to see how things are going with their new furbaby in the home. I recently exchanged texts with one gent who adopted one of my all-time favorite pups. He had taken the dog to his vet only to get a positive heartworm test. Heartbreak! This shelter has a “live-in” vet and I am appalled that the dogs are not heartworm tested before they are adopted out. I have also known of many dogs who have gone to homes with various degrees of intestinal and respiratory illnesses.

Dealing with dogs, adoptions, and the shelter environment is never going to be pretty. But by implementing some basic new strategies, and eliminating things that have proven to provide pain and heartbreak, the whole adoption process can be made significantly more successful.

Bessie

I fell in love when I first saw her. She was old and ugly in that way that is endearing. She looked at me through the bars of her kennel with rheumy eyes that spoke of things I didn’t want to know. One ear stuck up straight, the other flopped, giving her a lopsided look. Her old, gray face was tired. She had served her previous master well with untold numbers of litters now weighing down her tits so low they reached the ground. Her people got what they wanted from her. She got nothing. I opened her kennel door and I spoke to her – quietly – but I am sure she understood me.

Today I ran right to her kennel and she looked at me, wouldn’t stop looking at me even though others stood before her kennel. After 2 weeks of being confused, though well taken care of and loved by everyone in the shelter, she was going to a foster home where she would be warm, cozy, and loved by a family. Wonderful news for her. I started my shift whispering sweet somethings in her ear and when my shift was done, she was gone. Her kennel still held the blanket she cozied up on, and the toy some kind soul gave her, but her essence was gone, and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I had to wipe away a few tears of grief and loss. Please, family, give her the love she needs and deserves.

Walking Dogs in Winter

It’s cold. Today I walk the shelter dogs. My heart is warm.

Photo by Ryan Bruce from Burst