Details are sketchy but it sounds as if a family may have surrendered a dog to the Surry Co pound in NC, found out the staff killed the dog, and expressed their outrage during a heated phone call to the pound. A 15 year old boy got on the line at some point and threatened the staff with violence.
Shelter staff immediately went into lockdown as a precautionary measure and were pulled from the building for nearly three hours, according to Thomas Williams, spokesman for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees county shelter operations.
While many of us can surely sympathize with the feelings of despair and horror that must accompany a family learning that the place responsible for sheltering pets is killing them instead, it’s important to refrain from violence – and a threat of violence is itself violent – even in the most trying circumstances.
I don’t expect every teenage boy to be able to control himself when he’s terribly upset and obviously this one didn’t. But I do expect all adult animal advocates to conduct themselves professionally. This is why I always ask people to keep all their comments to shelter staff, elected officials and others respectful and polite.
We undermine our own cause when we lose our cool. It is far more effective to send a thoughtful paragraph than it is to spew pages of curse words and all caps. Bear in mind that we are protesting the violence that shelters do in the form of neglect, abuse and killing. We must remain non-violent in our words and deeds.
It is perfectly understandable to feel outraged and angry over shelter pet abuse. If you need to write an awful letter in order to vent your frustrations, make yourself the recipient and then trash it when finished. Hit a punching bag, scream into a pillow, weed your yard by hand – do whatever helps. But when you sit down to call or write those who need to be held accountable for the abuse and killing of shelter pets, do it thoughtfully and respectfully. We can condemn the violence at shelters in the strongest possible terms without resorting to violence ourselves.