When shelter staff and volunteers say a pet was “dumped” or otherwise smear the surrendering party, they are delivering a double blow to the animals:
- Adopters perceive shelter pets as damaged goods (you dump trash, right?).
- People don’t want to face the judgement of shelter staff and so may not bring the next pet in need of rehoming, or an injured or loose pet they find, to the shelter.
People who bring pets to a place called ANIMAL SHELTER are doing the right thing. They may need a hand up via education or assistance but since they’ve already arrived at the shelter, they’re in the right place for that. Taking pets in need to the shelter is what we want people to do. And it’s why we spend our tax money to keep shelters open.
If we discourage people from bringing pets to the shelter by unloading our judgement on them, they will seek alternatives, many of which we won’t like. And if we continually refer to shelter pets in the same way we refer to trash, people are going to find other sources when looking for a new pet, many of which we won’t like.
The truth is, we don’t know why many pets are brought to shelters, what their backgrounds are or whether their previous owners loved them dearly, not at all or anywhere in between. So why not start with a clean slate and just consider that the shelter is where the pet is now, and a loving home is where she needs to be as soon as possible. Dogs and cats seem to be very good at living in the moment and not dwelling on the past. Maybe we can follow their example.
This issue is a pet peeve of mine, which I’ve written about before, but it won’t seem to go away. Many of the people who are truly dumping pets in our society work in pet killing facilities, sometimes adjacent to the city landfill for convenience.