Can You “Dump” a Pet at a Safe Haven?

From Orange Co CA comes this feel-good story about a German
Shepherd Dog called Roxy who was surrendered to a shelter and, thanks to internet fundraising efforts, will now get surgery to correct a genetic defect.  But what ruined the otherwise uplifting post for me was this bit:

Roxy was dumped at the Pasadena Humane Society on Nov. 8 because her former owners did not want to or couldn’t pay for surgery to correct a genetic bone disorder in the dog’s front legs. She was scheduled to be euthanized Thursday.

Who is being painted as the bad guy here?  To me, it’s the owners.  They “dumped” Roxy possibly because they didn’t want to or couldn’t pay for her surgery.  No aspersions whatsoever cast upon a so-called humane society that was planning to kill a dog who needed surgery on her forelegs.  It doesn’t say the “humane society” had tried to find a vet to donate the surgery or tried to raise the funds in the community or anything – just that they were going to kill her.

Let’s be clear here – we do not know why the owners surrendered Roxy to the shelter.  We don’t know if their kid is chronically ill and they are trading shifts in round the clock care.  We don’t know if they’ve been laid off in this rough economy and haven’t been able to find new employment.  Maybe they would have happily paid for Roxy’s surgery if they could afford to do it.  We just don’t know.

The only thing we do know about the owners is that they cared enough about Roxy to take her to a place called a “humane society”.  Our American animal shelters are supposed to be safe havens for pets in need – not dumps.  Bringing an animal to a shelter should never be considered “dumping”.  Roxy’s owners were not bad people – at some level, perhaps different from how you or I might act with our pets – they cared.  You know what actual bad people do with dogs who need expensive surgery?  They take them out to the back forty and let their kids use the dog for target practice.  They drive them out to rural areas, put them out the car and drive away.  They most certainly don’t take them to the animal shelter.

So, while we don’t know why Roxy’s owners surrendered her, we know for certain what the shelter was going to do:  kill her.  And yet this story, like so many others, puts the owners in a negative light when there really is no basis for doing so.  Further, the post fails to condemn or even mention the hypocrisy in a place called “humane society” planning to kill a treatable dog.

14 thoughts on “Can You “Dump” a Pet at a Safe Haven?

  1. Very good points, I feel sad that so many people have the attitude that poverty is a character flaw. I do know that sometimes people take dogs to ‘shelters’ for frivolous reasons but sometimes there is little choice. I wish we could work together to help people keep their pets through hard times rather than pillory them for doing what most were brought up to think is the ‘responsible’ thing to do when they can’t properly care for an animal.
    This attitude also drives a wedge between people of different classes who care about animals and makes it seem as though animal welfare is a rich peoples concern. Pulling us together might just make us more effective.

    1. I think it also sets an absurd standard for human-pet relationships. Marriages fall apart, siblings become estranged, friends fall out, parents and children stop speaking to one another for all kinds of reasons. Yet we build a “shelter” system around the expectation that human-pet relationships can never fail? Makes no sense.

  2. I agree that ‘dumping’ is not when one takes their animal to a shelter. Yes, it happens for really stupid reasons. But if the people are that shallow, then don’t we want those pets somewhere safer anyway? And for the ones who really truly cannot deal with the animals for whatever reason, then why condemn them for trying to make it better for the animal?

    I mean, in this case, it was well over $5K for the surgery… how many people really have that kind of money socked away, especially in this economy? If we vilify the people who are trying to do the best they can, then aren’t they going to stop trying their best? I know that when people get upset with me for transporting dogs (claiming that I’m ‘stealing homes from other dogs’), it can get me down. Luckily, our volunteer support network is really great, and most people tell us we’re doing a really good thing.

  3. When will these short-sighted shelter directors get that vilifying the public never works. All it makes the public do is hate the shelter. When the public hates the shelter they are less likely to volunteer, donate, or adopt an animal.

  4. Good points Yesbiscuit. We also don’t know if the former owners tried to call any rescues and ask for help. I’ve tried to get help for shelter dogs and let me tell you some of the rescues can get downright nasty. And I’m just a volunteer. I can only imagine how they treat people that are trying to find a new home for their pet.

    1. Thanks Alyssa, I too have felt the double-edged sword of anger/frustration when dealing with rescues. It tires my soul that we can’t all play well together and that those with the most compassion for non-human creatures often have the least compassion for humans. We are all animals, but dogs seem to forgive and forget way better/faster than humans!
      Nobody is perfect. Other-than-humans seem to cope with this reality a LOT better than we do. We tend to foist blame or force legislation…hey everybody, how’s that working for us?!

  5. Good point.

    I can’t imagine a circumstance in which I would ever give up a pet myself. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone who does is evil. The real problem is that, as you said, the shelter was doing to kill a treatable dog.

  6. Interesting POV, and insightful. However, you have to remember that most humane and rescue organizations are based solely on donations, and perhaps they were falling on hard times, too. Why use up all resources to treat a dog with a costly health issue, instead of use those same resources to save 20 other healthy animals, who otherwise may be out of luck? It’s nice that there were people out there who cared to make the extra effort to help this unfortunate dog– as many others never get that chance.

  7. Oh, I just saw this, and need to thank you for saying it.

    We just adopted a senior dog from our local shelter who I’m sure many people would assume was ‘dumped.’ But those would be people who didn’t see his intake papers.

    In addition to the standard intake interview documentation, his previous owner had written a three-page story about his dog and the circumstances that led him to surrender him to the shelter.

    It would break your heart. He’d adopted the dog eight years prior, when the dog was already five years old, and for those eight years, he loved and cared for and put that dog on a pedestal. But then, he lost his job, his home, and his family, and had no other option than to bring his beloved companion back to the shelter he’d adopted him from.

    I’m not gonna lie. We adopted that dog because we wanted to give that little old guy a safe, happy, comfortable life in his final years. But particularly after we learned about his previous family’s situation, we also want to do it to honor them and to maybe give them a little bit of peace, knowing that their beloved friend is in a home, being loved. (And the guy did manage to sneak his email address into his essay, so I emailed him just to let him know.)

    So what I’m trying to say is that yes, we absolutely would have brought him home to save him from a life of cruelty if he’d had bad and neglectful owners or something, but there seems to be a perception that vilifying others is the only motivation for people to help, and I don’t think that’s true. We feel better knowing that his previous family aren’t our enemies, and knowing that not only can we help this funny little dog (and he is awesome!), but that in doing so, maybe we can give his previous family a little peace of mind too.

  8. I, too, hate the use of the word “dump.” However, a word that disturbs me every but as much (and probably more) in the post you quote is the word “euthanize.”

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