Last week while listening to a local radio broadcast of the news the announcer very casually mentioned that our local animal shelter euthanizes 20-30 dogs every day!! EVERY DAY!! I turned off the radio to let my mind absorb what I had just heard. I reached for a calulator and multiplied 52 weeks in a year, 5 work days per week, and an average of 25 dogs per day, and the number made me cry. 6500 dogs this year will lose their lives in Ector County, Texas. We have a population of just over 100,000 people that is growing every day as the oil field booms. That’s one dog for every 15 people.
I read comments every day from people who say every shelter should be No Kill. What do we as a society expect these shelters to do with 25 dogs over their capacity each and every day? One of our local shelters has just received the go ahead to built a new larger facility. How long will it take to fill up that new facility with 25 dogs a day coming in. Maybe a week if we are lucky. I was in this shelter last week picking up a 9 year old that had been turned in by her lifelong owner for having diarrhea. It took about 30 minutes to fill out all the paperwork for me to rescue this little doll. While I was there 4 dogs came thru the front door to MEET THEIR FATE.
A discussion about what can be done to curb this horrific situation almost always leads back to more government regulation. I’m all for laws governing the breeding of dogs. I’m all for laws to try to force people to spay and neuter their pets. But from my experience those laws are almost futile. In Texas, commercial breeders are required to get a license. They are also required to open their doors to quarterly inspections. Those inspections don’t happen. Many back yard breeders say, “Well we are only having one or two litters a year, so it is more of a hobby than a business.” Our government cannot go house to house to insure that all dogs are altered. They cannot keep up with the demands on their time as it is. No way they can enforce more laws to prevent the over population of dogs.
Ok maybe we need more rescuers. We have four layers of rescue in our society. The top layer is made up of organized rescues that vet their applications with strict standards. The next layer is also comprised of organized rescues that set up at Petsmart and other facilities and events for adoption days. Then we have the shelters and Humane Societies that adopt dogs from their facilities. And last we have the dogs that are lucky enough to get pulled off the street by a caring individual. All of these people are doing EVERYTHING in their power to save as many dogs as possible, and they all suffer through one horrible situation after another. Shelter workers often take a beating in the public view. Would you do their job? I certainly wouldn’t. Most of these people are there because of their love for the animals, but turnover in these jobs is tremendous, and I can certainly understand why.
As many of you are aware we are currently caring for 58 dogs. In the last week we have had three adopted and four new ones came in. We are 18 dogs over our capacity and each day we struggle to get to the end of the chores. We are desperately trying to raise the funds needed to build a separate facility on our land that will be able to handle 100 dogs. During the month of May I have turned down 14 dogs that needed a soft spot to land. At that rate and considering the increase in our local population how long will it take us to fill up our new facility? Not long, not very long at all. Last night Rick and I had a long conversation about the tiny, little dent we make in the problem. We are well aware that we cannot save them all, we can’t even save a small percentage. Our only saving grace is that as we look around at all the babies curled up beside us and in numerous dog beds all over the floor, we know that our efforts made a huge difference to those babies. And that knowledge is enough to make us get back up each morning and do the very best we can for the ones that depend on us.
So where does that leave us? There is only one solution that I can see. We must have an army that is huge, that is resolute, that is self-sacrificing, that is relentless. THAT ARMY IS YOU! You are the only way this problem ever gets reduced. You must rescue one more than you think you can handle. You must encourage everyone you know to care for their babies for the entire life of that baby. You must encourage anyone you know that breeds their dogs even one time, to STOP! You must push the AKC to change their standards for show dogs that must be intact. You must volunteer at your local shelter or humane society. You must pass on a kind word to the workers in your local shelter. You must make your social media posts about the positive things we can do and not about the horrible things that we all see everyday. You must not spend one ounce of your energy trashing the people who give up their dogs, because you will not change who they are. You must stop giving animal abusers the spotlight as we all know they are there. You must raise your children to know that a pet is for life. You must show your neighbors that there are people who will help them if they are struggling to care for their pets. You must encourage the seniors among us to plan for the care of their babies if they become incapable of doing it for themselves. You must stop valuing puppies over adult dogs, You must protest your local pet stores that sell puppies from puppy mills. You must transport for your local rescues. You must foster for your local rescues. You must offer to pay for spay/neuter for young couples that are struggling to make ends meet. You must walk thru your local shelter often enough to remember that those sad faces behind those fences have no options. You are their only option. You are their only advocate. You are their only chance to know the love of a human like they deserve.
Ok so now my rant is over. I realize that no one can do everything on that list. Rick and I don’t do everything on that list. But we must all do something more than what we are currently doing. Because from my point of view that is the only hope for the millions of babies that will lose their lives this year to the tragedy that we as humans have created.