Friday, July 3, 2009

Life of Cats and Dogs at Shelters

Melody Cassady holds onto the leg of "Coby" a mixed-breed dog that she just injected with Euthasol. Volunteer Liz Schaub, right, keeps a firm hold on him. Cassady, of Muskegon, is a volunteer for Bound Buddies Rescue, located inside of Vector Control, 1300 E. Keating, where she frequently has to euthanize animals that are unadoptable. Read more here: Difficult Job is a Labor of Love

A Letter from a Shelter Manager

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 breeders/sellers 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 change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know.

That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 30% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into my shelter are purebred dogs with AKC papers (not that they're any measure of quality in a dog).

The most common excuses I hear are; "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really? Where are you moving to 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 (which hasn't been the case in the past 3 years, thanks to the economy) 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 to 100 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 shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

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 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will 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.

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? 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 that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

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.


You say you turned your dog over to a "no-kill" shelter. There is no across-the-board definition of "no-kill." Ask for the shelter's euthanasia policy before surrendering your dog. Or better yet, do EVERYTHING possible to KEEP the pet you made lifelong commitment to, and use the shelter as a last resort.

Adopt shelter/rescue pets, don't declaw your cats, get your pets fixed and research first.

Photo source along with its own article: Check here

The letter from shelter manager shown above was crossposted via email. It is what shelter managers across the nation along with their co workers and volunteers have to deal with on a daily basis.

Video from Animalitarian:


  1. This is quoted from the article with the link that you provided....

    "These are photos of the dead cats and dogs euthanized in one day at a county dog pound. They were all gassed simultaneously and then packed up in 50 gallon drums. The drums were then sealed and sent to rendering plants where they were used to make dog food."

    That's totally unacceptable. What if we euthanize homeless people, would they become food for humans?? That is totally deplorable.

    We do need to stop the breeding practices to save more cats and dogs from being put to sleep. That is something I would consider before the Congress.

  2. valid points but dont brand all breeders the same please. some of us take back (or buy back!) every single pup we have bred even when an old age adult if for some reason their new ownes cant keep them. some breeders care enough to keep in touch with every single puppy sold.

  3. Anthony, I hurt for these animals and we must do more. Euthansia, including gassing, by whatever mean is horrible. More on how they reacted when going in the room. It reminds me of the Jews and the "impure" at concentration camps. No justifiable reasons for their death.

    As for their meat being sold as cat/dog food, it is against nature that cats/dogs eat cats/dogs and you would never see that happen among starving cats/dogs. To avoid those kind of cat/dog food, go for organic food. My worst fear is their next step is skinning them for their fur and sell them overseas if America objected to it here. This is what greed does to people at animals expense.

    Farlap, I personally do not see a reason for any breeding until overpopulation and euthansia of adoptable animals are no longer of an issue. While I don't get people who breed, breeding, to me, is about preserving one from going into extinction. Obviously, it's not the case. And mutts are wonderful animals.

    I owe it to my pets to speak out on behalf of all voiceless animals. Unlike deaf people, animals do not have the luxury to find alternatives to communicate with the world about exploitation, injustice and oppression against them. They never will and rely on us, humans.

  4. This sickeness me to my stomache I cant understand anyone getting rid of there animals for so silly and pathetic excuses why have an animal as a pet in the first place all animals need the love and attention from there owners this is only normal behavour which the owners should have and take all responsibility for there pets and being gassed to death is just what hitler done to the jews which was seen as barbaric and is in this day and age people should know better and show all the love and attention for there animals there life is just as important as us humans

  5. My husband and I have seven dogs, all rescues from high kill shelters, all spayed and neutered, all healthy and adored. I only wish we could take care of more. This breaks my heart. Wake up people! Spay your pets! Adopt, don't buy! Be careful, committed and realistic when choosing a pet! Spend time training them, would you send your child away because they had a few accidents?

  6. farlap, if you breed puppies, you aid in this horrible reality. It doesn't matter what you do with YOUR puppies. What matters is your bred puppies are entering homes and these animals are dying because there aren't enough homes to go around. Make all the excuses you like -- but you aid in this problem.

  7. Reading this story made me cry. I love animals so much. I try to avoid this harsh reality because it depresses me. Don't take me wrong, i do know it exits and i don't do that to my own pets. I keep them all and i love them all. I am grateful that i grew up with animals and learned my responsiblity for them.
    I often wonder when will this stop.

  8. Bravo. Well said. How do we get this article out to the public?

  9. This is why the world sucks sometimes. It's bad enough we have hungry homeless men, women and children, millionaire jerks who care more about what size mansion to buy rather than give to charity or help the needy...and to top it off, we have innocent dogs and cats that are treated like garbage tossed aside in the murky waters of this planet that suffers just as greatly. I weep for all those poor souls, humans and animals alike and I pray to God that breeders stop and realize that they are killing their own humanity while hurting others around them.

  10. I rescued a young dog who'd been dumped near my home. He's part Australian Cattle Dog...those of you familiar with this breed know how difficult they can be! He's high-energy, gets into everything, and wants to live in my lap. I'm unemployed and broke and can barely afford to feed my own two dogs...but he is not going to a shelter.

  11. I have many times thought that people who are well off and have property are selfish for not giving cast-off animals a home.
    I am re-thinking that now. Some people just should not have pets, animals or children for that matter. They can better their Karma by donating money tho': )

  12. Heart touching comments above! It is astounding that this is happening to cats and dogs in our civilized society. Don't forget the rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and others being dumped at shelters as well. It's not always easy getting by the day, knowing thousands are euthanized that are very preventable.

    As we work towards zero euthansia of adoptable and healthy pets across nation, foster homes are crucial to saving more and rescues are having trouble getting volunteers. Their rescue efforts depend on the willingness of foster parents. That alone won't be enough without people adopting from either rescues or shelters.

  13. Very true, as a young vet tech, I experienced this -- every euthanasia is absolute torture for the humans involved as well as the animals. In truth, there is no "humane" euthanasia. We shouldn't even use the word. It's murder, really.

  14. How do we get this out to the public? Tell everyone you know, share it on social networks, encourage those interested in a pet to adopt, educate them that pets in shelters make GREAT pets, get involved in your local animal rescue, encourage local media to get the word out, write your congressman to focus on tougher penalties for these questionable breeders. I wouldn't buy a dog from even a reputable breeder. There are so many breed specific rescues. You can even adopt a puppy.

  15. This just made me really cry.
    I have adopted 2 cats in the last 18 months, both from shelters, and the newest cat (well, kitten - he is about 9 months old) is deaf, and is the sweetest, most affectionate animal I have ever owned.
    I would adopt more if I could, but I am from the UK and will have to go back there in a year or so when my contract here is up. It will cost thousands of dollars to fly home my 3 cats (one of which I brought with me from the UKK when I moved here) and I just don't have the money to fly home any more cats. It's heartbreaking, but I know when I get back to the UK with my menagerie that one of the first things I do will be to go to the nearest animal rescue and get another cat. My husband wants a dog too so I might get one of those too when I get my new cat :o) People here have expressed huge surprise when I tell them I am taking all my cats back to the UK with me (some were surprised I brought out my first cat to the US!)but for me it's simple; I haven't adopted and bonded with these cats, who love me and trust me to take care of them, to just dump them back at the shelter when it's time for me to fly home.
    People who dump animals make me so, so mad. Furious, in fact. I feel for all the compassionate people who work in these shelters and try their best to rehome an animal who has been abandoned through no fault of its own.

  16. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  17. My husband & I were going to get a second dog from the county shelter - we wanted to wait a few days to make up our minds about which of the really cute dogs we saw that day to adopt when we went back a few days later out of the 50 dogs that were just there we could only recognize 4 -I have a nerve damage disease & can't work, drive or walk properly without being in immense pain but I am not in enough pain to not get involved. Every six days I go to the shelters in my town and take pictures of the new "pets in prisons" and Post videos on YOUTUBE with popular music to get their faces out there & promote awareness about just what this shelter manager wrote about. I go there every week & it breaks my heart every time I see an owner bringing in yet another animal for the same reasons. I cry often when I go and struggle to get through taking each picture & try to show some love to these victims sentenced for a crime their humans committed by allowing them to get to the "humane" shelters in the first place!!!




    MY ORG. is called ANIMALITARIANS like humanitarians but for animals - I visit the shelters EVERY week and take pictures & videos of the current animals available for adoption by making YOUTUVE videos to promote adoption/donation/spay/nuetor/no kill shelters/controlled breeding - find my videos on YOUTUBE by typing in the key word ANIMALITARIANS

  19. Thanks, Linda! I hope it is ok with you for me to add the youtube link on the page.

  20. if you dont mind im going to copy and paste this into a local craigslist ad on the pets forum


  22. I really hate some shelter would do killed of them because they dont have money for feeds them HUH?
    I remember I did save puppy find new home without send to shelter because I am never trust any shelter possibly kill him. My mother plan send puppy to shelter and I forbid her. The lady adopt him and keep for his live.
    You know Vet and Shelter always want money are kill us.

  23. I have been waiting to volunteer at my local shelter for years, and will soon be finally old enough. If only other kids my age thought of such places to volunteer.

    -volunteer in waiting

  24. Thank you for passing A Letter From A Shelter Manager on to others. I originally saw this posted on FB and asked and received permission to post on my blog ( I hope that it causes people to stop and think before buying a pet. Thank you for being a part of the change we want to be!

  25. funny they just did a study and proved the euthenasia solution is still toxic after 2 years in the ground (after some dogs dug up and eat a dead horse) how is it they are using these animlas for pet food? dont get me wrong I agree with the whole pet over population thing and all my pets are with me for life but that information is simply not true....

  26. This just broke my heart. My husband brought home a sopping wet, skin and bones, terrified kitten last night. The mother had been run over a few days ago and the kitten was living in the dumpster at his shop. Less than 24 hours later, she is a beautiful member of our family. Even our Sheltie (rescued from abusive couple) has fallen in love. They slept together last night. We have a vet appt soon to determine age, breed, sex and, most importantly, to be spayed or neutered. Please don't leave animals at shelters, they won't survive. Better yet, empty out those shelters and refuse to buy from these puppy mills that are cropping up all over the place. The worst ones are the farms advertising animals in hand painted signs. You are not getting a companion animal, you are getting something treated as livestock. Do not investigate how most livestock are treated, it will leave you far more upset than this article.