Stop Condemning Those Who Bring Pets to Shelters

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:

  1. Adopters perceive shelter pets as damaged goods (you dump trash, right?).
  2. 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.

Dog #106356 at the Cumberland Co pound in NC, as posted on PetHarbor.

76 thoughts on “Stop Condemning Those Who Bring Pets to Shelters

  1. Shirley, I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!!! For this posting. This has long been a HUGE thorn in my side with shelters & those who work/volunteer or support the shelter by talking about “dumping” animals and then treating them like the “trash” they act like they are. There are MANY reasons why an animal ends up there – but it shouldn’t be the end of the line!!!! Irks me to NO end to hear people act like there is a problem with people actually using the sheltering system for what it was meant for…..and regardless of how the animals lived before their time in the shelter – it IS a new beginning for those animals. They are waiting for someone to love them. It’s no different from the foster care system….would we just leave the kids to rot in a cage because they might be damaged good due to their parents screwing up? I wouldn’t. So why do that to an animal? Every animal I have ever had started out as someone else’s pet. I saved each from going to a shelter. Some have stayed with me and many have gone on to find even better homes to be pampered and loved until the end of their days. I really wish people would stop thinking about the could’ve/would’ve/should’ve…and instead think about the CAN BEs.

    1. Erica-it is different than a rescue foster situation. Volunteers and rescues that foster animals make a COMMITMENT to these animals for the entirety of the animals life. Look at the stats from your local government funded “shelter” and see just how many “owner give ups” make it out of the shelter vs how many are euth’d.

      1. Mary Anne I think you misread what I wrote. I was NOT speaking about rescue & foster….I was talking about CHILDREN IN FOSTER care. You’re singing to the wrong choir here.

  2. I have spoken against this pejorative labeling as well. Also the term “unwanted” is another unnecessarily negative label. In addition many pets are wanted but simply lost and the shelters usually don’t even make minimum efforts to reunite them with their families. It is purely rebel rousing by the shelters to shift blame for their failure in life saving onto the public. Ironically if a person needs assistance and keeps their pet instead of bringing them into a shelter but not in ideal circumstances they are then labeled a hoarder. This is institutionalized systematic intrinsic hatred assigned to the public and designed to blame the public while deflecting responsibility by the shelters.

  3. Agreed. Stafff should welcome people bringing animals in. Staff should offer help before impounding an animal. Items such as food, a crate, help with spay/neuter and vaccinations – can many times help an animal stay in a home where they are truly wanted. If Staff spends a little time with the person bringing the animal in – many times it’s easy to tell what’s going on. If in fact the person needs help but won’t ask – or if in fact the pet is better off NOT in that home it’s coming from.

    Another side of this negative “perception” issue of people considering these animals “damaged goods” because they are “dumped” – is the age old damaging use of the name “Dog Pound” instead of “Animal Shelter.” It’s derrogatory and not inclusive of what many shelters do now – as compared to decades ago. It’s also derrogatory to the movement to change pubic opinion of these facilities. Although I agree that most of these entities have a long way to go in our country – there are many who vaccinate, hold adoption events, utilize volunteers, rescues and transports to help these homeless animals get out alive.

    1. It is not shelter staff that use the word “dump”, it is rescue groups that are overwhelmed and extremely upset because so many animals are needlessly killed at shelters!

  4. Shelter staff take that attitude and talk about people “dumping” animals to justify their lack of effort to actually help find the pets a new life. They want to come off as the heroes who are doing “everything we can,” and just “hate” being “forced” to kill animals by all those awful people who are so mean they “dump” animals at a shelter. It’s the only way they can claim any legitimacy for their claim that they love animals while throwing most of the ones entrusted into their care in the dumpster.

  5. I may have said the same thing 10 years ago before I moved to North Carolina. However, I am dealing with a different reality here. I do volunteer at a County shelter. I have been a mediator for the rescuers and the shelter workers several times. Karen needs to travel more, as do many who live in the NE or the west coast. You are the tiny minority !
    There is no difference between the “Pound” for animal control and the “Shelter” for animal control. They are the same thing . They are not designed for adoptions, they are designed to ” Contain and Kill”. Nothing changed but a name. That was just to make humans feel better about killing millions of healthy animals every year.

    I will take you on a tour of the N.C. County facilities I visit. We will start in New Bern, N.C. where they made the volunteers remove their ad for Pet of the week, because answering the phone was too much trouble and adoption is a lot of work. If an owner “Surrenders” their animal because they can not care for them, that animal is dead before they get back home. They do not get put up for adoption, they do not get a check up, they just die. The 72 hour “hold” rule does not apply to Owner Surrenders”. Many small rural shelters don’t even want to feed the dog they are going to kill at 4pm.. These have 1-2 people on staff, maybe a part timer. Just like Gaston, N.C., the highest kill shelter in N.C. until 2 years ago.
    They sold the corpses to labs and they got paid for murdering as many as they can. Yes, they still do. Yes, it is legal and many shelters sell the corpses. The more they kill, the more they make.

    And you want to call these places ” Shelters???” You are talking about a place where they do not have to give medical care to sick or injured animals. A place where they kill animals for having fleas, or just because they want that cage for a new arrival. Under 10% of the “shelters” in this country were even designed with adoption in mind.

    We can not possibly be derogatory enough when it comes to describing the hell holes I visit , where no volunteers are welcome and they kill as many as they can because their job is still ” Animal Control”. These old school workers are not going to change. I hope they will die out soon and new workers, with a conscience and empathy will replace them. Anyone who thinks a majority of today’s “Shelters” are not the same as the “Pounds” from 100 years ago is wrong. They need to take tour of the SW and SE USA – don’t skip LA, MS. GA. I wish you would travel a bit and understand that this mind set of yours is not reality in most of the county.

    Shirley, I am a surprised that you can say this. You need to these hell holes for yourself. You’ll see Memphis is like 1000s of others out there. I see people dropping animals off all the time at the county shelter. Every one of them says the same thing ” Well, at least He/She will have a chance at a new home ” .
    I know that our County shelter is overwhelmed with animals. In spite of good adoption fairs and a caring shelter staff, they are killing more now than ever. A “county” shelter can never say it is full. They have to take in any animals that come their way. The result is very few of those seeking a new home will ever have a chance to see anything but an IV at the end of the day.
    I hope I live to see the day you seem to think we are living in now. Please travel a bit and get the facts about what is really happening in these shelters. Owners who can not care for their pets should make every effort to re-home when with nice relatives or neighbors. They can contact local rescues and put the animal on Petfinder. Local rescues will make a home visit for them. The shelter is a very last resort, after they have tried everything else, twice.
    Leaving your animal in a POUND ,(“Shelter” sounds nicer but is a lie), is a death sentence in many, many shelters across this Country.

    This is totally wrong You want to perpetuate a myth people want to believe, so their conscience is clear. That dog you took back because he peed on your floor is dead. That cat who scratched your chair is gone.
    Come down for a visit – and open your eyes.
    You should know this is a fact before printing your “:pet peeve”

    1. Shirley is right about the shelters being a safe haven and why shelter reform is so needed. No Kill communites work across the country. They key is shelters being held accountable for the animals in their care. MAS is a prime example of why we need reform. It only creates a cycle by blaming or judging the public for turning pets in, they hatred cycle is started and people are less likely to adopt from their. Their needs to be a solid relationship between the shelter and public.

      1. “Shelter Reform ” is polishing a rotten apple. The animals do not care if their walls are pretty pastels or the ceiling is now 12′ high. These boutique shelters that are being built for $15 20 million are a waste of time and $$ . They are still prisons and those animals are isolated in cages. We need to step away and start a new system of housing the homeless that does not include killing at all. A private system that the government will not be controlling. This can happen quickly, without passing a million new laws. Forget reform and just build a new way. http://www.ShelterRevolution.Org is one way we can SAVE THEM ALL !

    2. This has to do with effective marketing. Often the shelter does zero marketing but the volunteers set up a page and run it for them to list the pets. I believe stemming the negative labels was with the end user in mind ( the adopter) and not necessarily the shelter. The public and rescues need to stop using the pejorative labeling. It doesn’t help the pet when on crossposting on FB it says underneath them “unwanted” or “dumped” as it is a subliminal mark against them. Also many times the negative labeling isn’t even accurate. It is the public that needs to embrace this change as it is their will that determines elections and hence, designation of compassionate officials and tax dollars. It is the public that most first embrace disbanding of the old dangerous myths. The shelter probably will be the last to adapt to change as they have the most to gain with their cognitive dissonance and need all the justification they can get to keep up the senseless killing. It seems to me Shirley and you are in agreement that perpetuating myths needs to end.

      P.S. I had a friend wanting to check the chip ins on a slaughter house shelter in GA and I remember they had a FB page – that saved many but couldn’t recall the name ( actually I was blocked because I dared to question the shelter on why they only post pics of lost pets after their hold time was up). So I contacted the official county AC page and asked them if they had the link because I had a rescue interested in pulling pets and the sponorships regarding. Here is the exchange:

      Do you still have a friends of Henry county volunteer page? They had many chipins on it and don’t see it anymore?
      Like · · Yesterday at 9:49am

      Henry County Animal Care and Control That is not a page that the shelter administers. (Here I am inquiring on the only mechanism that exists to get pets out alive.LET THIS RESPONSE SINK IN)
      Yesterday at 1:44pm · Like
      Alison Mednick Buzzotta Hector Do you know if there is one?
      Yesterday at 1:48pm · Like
      NO further answer. Shocking. Not.

      1. I was really struck by this comment of yours:

        “These old school workers are not going to change. I hope they will die out soon and new workers, with a conscience and empathy will replace them.”

        How is this going to happen if we don’t initiate any changes? Using these terms — “dumping” and “hellhole” and others — is not going to facilitate any change at all. All it does is write the whole thing off as a big mess, too big a mess to ever be fixed.

        I sense an attitude of giving up in your post, that you don’t believe anything can be different. You’ve seen too much, you say.

        The point is, we know it can be different. There are more No Kill communities all the time. Change is not easy, but it can happen. Doing things the old way, including pointing the finger of blame and using pejorative language, isn’t going to get us there.

      2. @cat lover, the point of this blog is not the dumping, it is the shelter system that is in need of reform. Shelters have to be accountable and giving a dog 2 or 3 days is not helping. Change is needes and no kill communites are working. That is what we strive to.

    3. I’m confused … it sounds like Willy Wonka thinks Shirley is DEFENDING these places …? Willy Wonka, is this your first visit to YesBiscuit?

    4. Willie Wonka- no one needs to personally visit these “shelters”, they just need to join a Facebook page that markets these dogs to rescues and see the sad faces of those who are scheduled to die. Not only does it happen in the south, but even in New York City where the ASPCA rakes in big bucks by advertising with singers and pictures of dogs that they never even tried to adopt out, but just used them as “cash cows” and then killed them like they did with Oreo!

    5. Thank you! This is the same in SC! PLEASE come see these high kill hell holes before you think that the owner shouldn’t be told the truth before leaving their animal there! The animals are treated like trash in most of them and will be thrown away with in days!

      1. God bless you Willie Wonka and the others like you! I know what you’re saying is true and the majority of the population has no clue….and they don’t want to really know because then they couldn’t sleep at night without getting involved, and then they really couldn’t sleep at night! God bless the animals and those that will not look away! <3

  6. This is right in line with an incident this week at our city shelter. Someone turned in a 8 year old golden retriever. He did not adjust too well to being in a shelter and was killed after only a few days. When I saw him yesterday he was a big happy smiling golden. True he wasnt happy to be there, but all he needed was a home or at least a foster. How many aggressive goldens are there? They of course blamed the owner for dumping the dog. I feel very strongly about this Shelters are in PLACE to be safe havens not death row. This shelter failed this dog period.

    1. another quick note during the volunteer orientation which I barely made it through for a friend, they were very emphatic on the fact is not their fault they kill dogs. They didnt agree with my opinion either about being a safe haven. I dont help out there for this and many other reasons, but I have a friend who is and trying very hard to help the ones she can.

  7. I live in Tennessee. In the South. I’ve lived in 11 states. I’m not ignorant to what goes on in the AC facilities. It’s awful in most. I know that what myself and many of us here in the Nashville area have been working on and do work on everyday is NOT the norm in most AC facilities! I realize and see it everyday here. What I am saying is that there are two sides to the coin here. People who bring animals to Animal Control are not all ill intended or irresponsible…but many are. And yo’re right – most AC facilities not shelters – but some are. I think the change in the labeling has to work throughout what we are all working toward. I attended the No Kill 2012 Conference (thank you Shirley). It was great. I met many people who are working hard to create change in their local government and ACs and Shelters. Should be disparage those facilites who are making small but pointed changes each year just because they are not yet No Kill labeled? Natan addressed this specifically and the answer was no. During the conference each presenter/panel spoke at length about their subject matter and then spoke about making “friends” with the Directors, the Commissioners, the Council Members, etc – in order to open doors to change. Shelter Reform is a dire need in this country. Many of us passionate animal advocates cannot be the spokesperson to do the “make nice” steps – but as we leaned – it’s important to find the people who can who are also animal advocates. As it was stated “The other side has been doing this for decades – and it’s time we do too.”

  8. I have adopted a few animals from shelters and they have been the best pets ever. I once had to take a dog to the shelter. My husband and I started new jobs and were working 12-14 hour days and it wasn’t fair to the dog. He was a great dog and we loved him very much. But we weren’t giving him the life that he deserved. I knew he would find a good home. I cried my eyes out when I took him in. I still miss him and think about him often. I didn’t feel like I had dumped him off somewhere and that I knew that they would take great care of him. As I was very familiar with this shelter and the programs that they have.

      1. Not necessarily. A dog that goes to my local county-run shelter has an excellent chance of getting out alive if he is not very sick/injured or very dangerous. Their live release rate for dogs is greater than 90%.

        She said that she was familiar with the shelter and its programs, so why come down on her like that? There are good shelters out there, even if they are still in the minority.

      2. You have no idea where this happened, and therefore no idea of the stats in that particular shelter. Moreover, the national stats don’t support you; about 50% of animals in shelters die there.

      3. Actually Willie, while out one day I did see him being walked, I recognised him immediately. There was no mistaking a 60 pound beagle. You have issues.

  9. i would agree if “animal shelters” were actually “shelters”….but are not… cant name something that uses gas chambers and lethal injections “shelter” and pretend that is something good……
    (sorry for my poor english)

    1. John, the point of this post is that if the shelters were doing their jobs as ACTUAL shelters, taking a pet there would be an act of kindness. Many people have to give up pets for many reasons, some better than others, but regardless, a place called a shelter should be a good, safe place for them to go. That they are not is the whole reason this blog exists–Shirley is an advocate for fixing the broken “shelter” system. And one of the things that needs to happen is that shelter directors and staff need to stop blaming the public and start doing their jobs and actually protecting animals.

  10. If a person takes a dog to a shelter……

    No one else……….

    1. I “dump” dogs at the shelter every month or so. I see them running loose. If they are not aggressive, I coax them into my car and I “dump” them at the shelter so they will not become road kill and so that their owner can find them. These are not my dogs. I can not take them home. I don’t have any other place to take them. The alternative is to look the other way, keep going and pray.

      I will contact various rescues and tell them about the dog, but that is the best I can do. But thanks for dumping poop on someone who “dumps” dogs for their own good.

      1. The alternative is to post the dog on FB, contact the shelter, contact animal control. If the dog really does belong to someone, they may just call the shelter and be told their dog is not there. If the dog does not have an owner to pick it up, the dog will be killed. Not sure why your area has so many free roaming dogs, but perhaps you need to really look at the situation and see if there is a “feral” colony near you and find a rescue that will really help them. If they are feral, is it really for their “own good” take them to a “shelter” that kills them?? At least on the street they have some chance of living and maybe finding someone who will take them into their heart and home.

      2. So your suggestion is to leave the dog running in traffic, and somehow post a recognizable picture on FB? Are you kidding? I can’t take the dog home, so where do you suggest I stash it while I’m trying to network at random, which the dog’s owners may never see? If I call animal control they will be out sometime in the next couple of hours to see if the dog is still there. Better for the dog to grab it if it’s willing, at least it’s safe. Despite your ridiculous assumption these are NOT feral dogs. I live in an urban area. These are dogs that got loose and a lot of times when I call the shelter to check on them, they’ve been reclaimed. While our animal shelter isn’t perfect, it’s a far, far better place for a dog than running through a busy intersection during rush hour. I can not believe that you would suggest leaving a dog to run in traffic.

    2. That is true, but shelters are to be a safe haven, not death row. The shelters need to be accountable.

  11. You are so right. Many people are out of work and some are even out of their home. If anyone saw a homeless person who’s house was forclosed living in a car or on the street they would probably be yapping about animal “abuse” and calling animal control and demanding that the homeless owner be given a new home in jail. From some of the things I have heard, there is not much compassion to go around in shelters these days, and none to spare for people who have to give up their pets so they don’t go to jail.

    1. I help homeless people keep their pets. I even arrange “foster” care for the nights it is too cold and they go into the shelter. In my experience , homeless people are wonderful to homeless pets.

  12. When animals are surrendered by their owners at high-kill shelters that have no legal obligation to keep the animal alive or find a home for it, it is the equivalent of dumping it. Many”shelters” (the name is misleading because it implies that it is a safe-haven) will kill an owner-surrendered pet the same day that it arrived if it happens to be euthanasia day. And, even strays that have a legall
    y required number of days to be held to give the owners a chance to retrieve it (often only 3 days) can be killed the same day it becomes available for adoption. So, until “shelters” like those change their practices, I think we will continue to hear the term “dumped”. And, in many cases it’s actually true. Many owners abandoned their pets out in the driveway or parking lot rather than come inside to the shelters, especially if there was a fee involved. I adopted a dog who was literally thrown away; she was tossed over an 8 foot fence at the trash collection center. Knowing that didn’t make me see her as damaged goods. It made me think that her previous owners were. (I also adopted one who was pulled from a high kill shelter minutes before she was going to be killed; she was 5-months old. And, my third dog was left in the driveway of a rescue after he’d been hit by a car. They didn’t even knock on the door; they just left him there. If that’s not dumping, I don’t know what is. Again,. I don’t blame the dog.)

  13. Sorry, but I can’t agree. Anyone taking a pet to the shelter needs to realize that most owner surrenders are at the top of the kill list! If you want to find a new home for your dog, the shelter is NOT the place. People need to be educated to contact RESCUES and most tax funded “shelters” kill.

      1. I currently have a foster dog that came by transport from Bristol,VA to Northern Maryland to be fostered. People have many options other than condeming their pet to die.

      2. But they may not know that, or they may not care – not everyone makes pets a priority in their lives, they’re just…there. That’s why shelter reform is vital. People will always surrender animals, and animals will always need safe places to go.

        Changing human nature will take more time than most dogs and cats have. Sure, it’d be awesome if we could make some people understand their jackassery and have them fix it, but it ain’t going to happen overnight.

        I do believe that once the shelter system changes, that once animals shelters all over the country start treating pets like they’re living creatures of value, attitudes over the country will also start to shift in that direction. As long as jerks who treat pets badly get validation/reinforcement of their behavior from everyone around them, INCLUDING THE ANIMAL SHELTER THAT TREATS THE ANIMALS LIKE GARBAGE, nothing will change.

        But picture Joe “I chained my dog outside for six years in the rain and wind and now she’s pregnant so I’m dumping her at the shelter” Blow walking in to some place like Pets Alive and seeing his dog cooed over and whisked away to be bathed and get a soft place to lie for the first time in her life and treated like she’s a good dog of value. They assure him that she’ll get a good home and plenty of food and she and her puppies will all be house dogs living with people who love them.

        Something in his brain will say, “These people are crazy.” But then he’ll have that weird niggling thought that maybe, just maybe there was something good and valuable about that dog that he didn’t see before…maybe he should have…done something…different…

        A planted seed that may someday bear fruit.

      3. Ms. Clark, you are clearly under the impression that because you or your local shelters and rescues do things a certain way, all shelters and rescues in the U.S. are exactly the same and do exactly the same things. You also seem to be assuming that every single dog owner on the planet shares your sensibilities.

        Our local shelter (which you’ve no doubt never been in) is not perfect, but because of dedicated volunteers and a willing-to-be-educated shelter administrator MY shelter is making progress and it’s the place I tell everyone who asks where to take a stray dog.

        It is WAY past time to stop demonizing everyone and everything that touches animal sheltering and start working FOR the animals regardless of geography. The amazing shelters (like the ones I visited in the Pacific Northwest and in Texas) and the improving shelters do not need someone suffering from rescue burnout bad mouthing them sight unseen.

  14. I disagree with this article. I have volunteered at shelters for 20 years and out of 10 people that drop off their no longer wanted dog/cat or other animal, MAYBE 1 has a real reason, such as going to a nursing home, finding a stray they can not keep or losing their home. The other 9 just got a puppy or kitten somewhere without giving it much thought and now that the kitten or puppy is pregnant, because they failed to spay or neuter, they want to get “rid” of the animal and leave the responsibility to someone… ANYONE… else. Maybe they got a new carpet or sofa and don’t want the dog to pee on the carpet or the cat to scratch the sofa. Maybe there is new girlfriend/boyfriend in the picture and they don’t like the animal or maybe there is now a baby in the house… and the non human “baby” they used to love isn’t needed anymore…. well I got news for you… those people always have been and always will be a POS to me.

    1. Having worked in rescue for 18 years now, I blame the cold hearted owners that I have seen. I will never be able to change the hatred I feel for those people. I have seen awful people. I will not buy into this hook line and sinker just because we should.

    2. And as long as the average member of the public is a POS to you, they won’t be considered a viable adopter by many rescues and closed admission shelters. And thus, kill shelters, and open admission facilities will feel justified in murdering whatever comes in because *there aren’t enough homes* but SOMEBODY was willing to give/sell a pet to each and every one of those POS folk, can you imagine how many MORE animals could find homes if we’d stop blaming the public and and open our hearts and our minds and HELP THEM be better pet owners?!?!

      1. I am totally for FREE mandatory spay/neuter. THAT is the problem IMO. Too many “free” puppies/kittens and adults everywhere… in the papers, on Craigs list etc. People don’t think their decision through and get an animal on the spur of the moment, when they are not prepared to alter their lifestyle to suit the animals need, nor are they prepared to pay the money for vet care, spay/neuter etc. There needs to be a massive spay/neuter effort to cut down the number of animals dramatically, that way the shelters and rescues will have the luxury of sending the animal to a good home, instead of handing them over to any idiot out of sheer desperation (and MANY do exactly that). Instead of constantly excusing irresponsible, bad and abusive behavior I hold people responsible! If you adopt an animal YOU are responsible for taking good care of him/her. If people were more responsible, then the shelters could find homes for those animals where the owner dies, is going to a nursing home etc. But if every Tom, Dick and Harry lets their animals breed every year, shelters are overflowing with all the babies and the adults don’t even have a chance. I am sick and tired of seeing people with the same attitude as I did 20 years ago. I don’t care if this is a “popular” opinion here, but that is how I feel. I am totally anti-kill, but this approach will never get us there, we need free spay neuter, everywhere all the time. People need to be made aware of what goes on in the so called shelters and that by letting their animals breed, they are directly responsible for the millions killed every year… and I think they should be forced to see the results of their irresponsible actions. Have billboards everywhere of dead shelter animals, show how they are gassed, show how they rot in dumpsters and are turned into fertilizer… show people the truth and I do believe some will change their behavior. Some won’t, but some people are beyond any hope.

      2. The average member of the public is not a POS and we spend many millions on our pets in this country. Only 3% of all pet owners surrender their pets for any reason. Newsflash to those ranting about S/N – free spay neuter no less. Affordable s/n helps but is not the cure. Even if free s/n was given out on every corner – 3% of pet owners would still surrender their pets and pets would still get lost and be picked up by AC. In fact lost pets make up at least 50% of the shelter population. Therefore in no way would the killing stop from your free s/n. There would still be a sizable population because kill shelters don’t do anything to reduce it ie seeking fosters, effective marketing, offsite adoptions and because they think killing is a viable solution to even just a dirty cage.

  15. Thank you! Yes, you are right, they did what they were supposed to do, and that’s why we have shelters!

    I don’t care what reason people give for they don’t want their pet anymore. The alternative is to dump them by the road (that’s real dumping, not taking them to a shelter), give them to someone who doesn’t care, or neglect them until they were so abused and ill they possibly died, none of which are preferable to any shelter. If a person does not want their pet, they will neglect or abuse it, we see it every day. And if they do but there is a behavior or medical problem, most shelters are equipped to help them.

    The only important thing is that an animal who clearly was not wanted now has a chance to find a home where they are wanted. Yes, in an open-door shelter they stand a chance of being euthanized, but in the hands of someone who does not what them, they don’t stand a chance at all.

  16. Condemnation is an easy out. People need to be educated, not criticized, and to lump everyone who runs out of time and resources to rehome a pet in with those who may perceive pets to be transient changes nothing for the better.

    Education for the public and reform for shelters is what we need. If some people are irresponsible, that is no excuse for excusing callous and sometimes outright abusive sheltering.

  17. I agree!! Thank you so much. I actually have a wonderful dog that we cannot keep becuase she and my older dog that we have had for 7 years do not get along! She is mean to him and won’t share. I don’t have the room to keep them both becuase we have to keep them seperated. I have spent the last week looking for a home for her and have come down to the “walk of shame” since I have been unsuccessful in finding her a new home. How do you recommend finding a good Shelter. I type in shelter in our area and it lists tons of websites but when you click on them they will say they have no facilites or you cant bring animals here ect.

  18. I don’t volunteer at a shelter or work at a shelter but because I am a pit bull advocate I associate with a LOT of people who do. This has been my mantra for a long time now whenever I see someone from a shelter who understandably is frustrated saying negative things on line about someone ‘dumping’ their dog at the shelter.

    There are MANY, MANY fine volunteers and shelter workers out there who see a lot of suffering and have to see a lot of animals euthanized due to shelter capacity and one can most certainly understand why they might begin, if they allow themselves to, to have a negative view of people outside the shelter. However they don’t realize, as you stated, that this attitude that they choose does not do anything to help the animal. I understand that everyone is different with different views on life but if one is going to rescue animals one must absolutely put personal feelings aside in the best interest of the animals they are trying to save.

    Good on you for saying this. I am going to share it with a group I belong to on line of local shelter workers from many different shelters and rescues.


  19. By the way I’d like to add that if the shelters are holding people outside the shelter responsible for the deaths of unwanted animals I believe it’s time that shelters started taking a good long hard look at how they do things and come up with new ways to increase adoptions as well as to decrease intake. Offering people who surrender their family dog to a shelter assistance that may avoid the family having to surrender their dog would be a great first step! But if the shelter is busy judging the animals owner there will be no offer of assistance and even if there is it won’t be sincere by any means.

  20. I WILL condemn people who bring their pets to shelters, because 99 % of them don’t make an effort to find a decent/loving home for their pets when they very conveniently have to ‘get rid’ of them. I personally know a lot of people who have come up with every excuse under the sun: behavior, time, work, kids, vet.bills, etc,etc, etc. I see it all the time and I’m fed up- shelters make it easy for them to just dump them there, yes DUMP them. What we need is to get rid of kill shelters and make it hard, very hard for just any idiot to get a pet. They are living creatures who deserve commitment and love. Anything short of that is a load of BS. Sorry.

    1. Whenever I see someone make a claim that “99% of people do X or Y,” my first thought is: What’s your sample size? can I see your raw data? Was it a random sampling or could there be sample bias? What constituted “making an effort” in your study? (and more statistics questions.)

      Because the truth is, you have no basis for saying you know what percent of people don’t make any effort, aside from your own anecdotal, non-random observation of some people you “personally” know.

      As for making it very hard for people to get pets, you are basically condemning almost all shelter pets to death–because who would be good enough to adopt them? At the same time, you are advocating a situation through which unapproved people, i.e. “idiots” in your opinion, will turn to “black market” transactions in order to get pets. This will mean more clandestine puppy mills and smuggling of animals under probably very inhumane conditions. And what happens when an unauthorized person is caught with a pet? Will the pet be confiscated and taken to the pound where, because no one is good enough to adopt it, it gets killed? And how exactly would that be better than just accepting the fact that some pets will be given up by people for reasons you consider spurious, and the job of our shelters is to keep them safe until a new home can be found?

  21. While dropping off an animal is not ideal, as I would love to see them continue their days in a loving home, I also don’t think its right to blame the people who drop off the animals. These are people who may have died, who may have severe health problems and cant care for an animal anymore, who may have entered the army, who may have had a child with severe allergies, and the list goes on. Not everyone who drops off an animal just ‘dumps it’, even though yes, some do. The important thing is for the animal shelter to adopt out these animals as best as they can. But most places won’t do that because it’s much easier not to. And if you try to call about a pet that you want to adopt out and they say “no thanks”, that’s all on the shelter. I am hoping that by changing the names from ‘dog pounds’ to ‘animal shelters’ and even better yet, ‘adoption centers’, the public will change their mind about what it means to go adopt an animal, more lives will be saved, and somewhere along the way the shelter workers wont be so quick to kill.

    1. My apologies to Shirley for taking my anger out on you. The comments I read prior to my posting had me seeing red. I pity the people who have to drop off a family member after they are unable to find him/her a good home. I get angry at the ones who drop off an animal for not being house broken or can not walk well on a leash. I see it all the time. These are not just from need, but many are just convience. It is very sad.

      1. Willie Wonka- I agree with you wholeheartedly. I knew someone who was moving out of state and gave up an elderly cat he had since a kitten because “I can’t take him with me”. How hard is it to find even rental housing with a cat……NOT. How many people take their dog to a kill shelter because they are having a baby and “don’t have time”. It takes 9 months to have the baby, surely you could find another home for your dog in 9 months, but now that the baby is coming you don’t need him anymore.
        what really makes me angry is the people who adopt from a rescue and rather than contacting them as their contract to adopt stipulates, they dump the dog in a kill shelter. I can’t imagine any valid reason to dump a dog at a shelter. As a single person, I have multiple family members and friends on notice who have agreed to care for my dogs or see they get a good home. What kind of “family” dumps a relative’s beloved pet when they die?? With “family” like that, who needs enemys??

      2. Mary Anne, not everyone is as fortunate with their family as you are. I knew a woman with multiple health issues bordering on homelessness with her two Rotties. Her only living family was a recovering heroin addict who could not look after herself, let alone two large dogs.

        For whatever reason, animals end up in shelters – be the reasons good and justified or frivolous and idiotic (Fluffy simply does not match the new decor!). It doesn’t matter. They’re there now, they need help and homes. How they ended up there isn’t really relevant and condemning the people who put them there isn’t helpful to the animals.

        Let it go. The anger is completely understandable, but it is not *helpful*. Not to you, not to the animals. Feel it, shout out, “You people are total JACKASSES!!!” once in a while (in a safe place), then let it go.

  22. My only concern with this is that most people don’t know the statistics that their pet will not make it out of the “shelter” alive. The PSPCA staff was instructed NOT to mention that they are in fact a high kill shelter. If someone did ask they didn’t deny it but they avoided answering.

  23. I agree with this post, and I think there’s more to it, too.

    Here’s the thing: there’s no point in getting angry.

    There will always be people who are foolish or irresponsible, or who view pets as disposable, or who are abusive shits. We can’t educate or shame or legislate them away. We can sometimes browbeat some of them into the appearance of better behavior, but it’s unlikely to do much good in the long term.

    So we can get angry, but all it does is feel good for us, and risk making it worse for the pets. Because people like this? They’re the ones who, turned away and shamed or even just afraid they might be, will leave the dog in the garage, the cat in a closet, the bunny in a cage out back. They’re the ones who will abandon young rats in a box out by the grocery, leave puppies shut in a suitcase by the dumpster, and tie or hobble horses out on the shoulder of the highway or along distant trails in the parks.

    If we leave our anger, on the other hand, and welcome everyone who comes – no matter what we think of them privately – perhaps we can stop some of this, and save more lives. Because while in the best of all possible worlds assholes, abusers and fools wouldn’t have pets, we’re stuck with the world we’ve got.

  24. I think I’ve posted this story on here before, but once near a Kmart a rottweiler, a corgi, and a cat (in a carrier) were left in the parking lot. The rescue I volunteer for took them in. Other people used words like “abandonment” and “dumped”, and yes it was “abandonment” and illegal according to the code of VA, but those animals were extremely well cared for, even a little overweight, and obviously loved and trained. In what kind of desperate straights was a person that they left their animals in a Kmart parking lot and walked away? I wish I could tell them that those animals are in safe in good homes right now.

    Every day I see so many ways people and animals need help, for examply, my friend’s friend who found a teenage kitten, kept it in her bathroom for a day, and needed somewhere for it to go but didn’t want to take it to a shelter because they kill. These people want to do a good thing, but nobody is willing to help them.

  25. I know you mean well, but you are wrong on this one. I am not sure what shelters you are referring to but I invite you to SC and I will personally take you to so many unprecedented hell holes where the majority of the animals that come in will be thrown out like”trash”before the week is out. The workers are working under the tiny fiscal amount the government allocates these county run agencies. Most are in old and small structures and have extremely high numbers of animals brought in daily with very few going out. Workers and the public, like myself, want people to know that taking an animal to one of these is like dumping your trash. People who must get rid of an animal for whatever reason should at least find a no kill shelter or rescue and that should be after tring to find them a home. That is the message we want to get across. Leaving your animal in one of these is inhumane. Not only does the animal usually get euthanized, it had to spend it’s last days on earth frightened in a strange, miserable place feeling abandoned and alone.

  26. Shelters are supposed to be safe havens for pets. Staff at too many shelters are failing to do their jobs. But most people don’t realize this. As such, shelter reform is needed. And we should not smear people for taking a pet to a place that they believe will actually shelter the animal.

    When shelter directors are interviewed in hoarding or neglect cases, they sometimes say things like, “People need to call us BEFORE they get in over their heads”. But who is going to call a shelter for help if they continually hear the staff badmouthing the people who go there?

    It’s all well and good to say that people who need to rehome a pet or who find a loose pet should find a no kill shelter, or a rescue, or find new owners themselves or keep the animal. That is not realistic in many cases. Rescues are full, people don’t know how or otherwise are unable to rehome pets themselves (sometimes they have tried) and keeping the animal is not always an option.

    Just because shelters aren’t doing their jobs doesn’t mean we don’t hold them accountable. The general public, in large part, thinks that shelters ARE doing their jobs – which is why they bring pets there.

    1. Did you see my points earlier about the need to remove pejorative labels for effective marketing? This is about getting the pets out of the shelter – that should be the focus. Of course the shelters are going to continue to use these negative labels and by doing so continue to the blame the public as an excuse to carry on with senseless killing. It is the public that must change their perceptions, disregard the mythical excuses, reject negative labeling FOR THE PETS SAKE, and then use their collective will and exercise their political might to force change.

  27. The General Public has no idea how horrible the conditions are in these shelters, nor do they understand the rules about Animal Control and exactly what their responsibilities to these animals really are according to their job description. They do not provide care, or medical treatment. They keep them in cages and then kill them. Adoptions are not the job of an ACO. People just make this stuff up. The public is ignorant Shirley ! It is the reason I work so hard at raising awareness. I believe if they knew the truth, they would want changes to happen now.

  28. I think People are not smart who drop off there Dogs $ Cats too the Shelter if you can’t take care of them then why vie then. I think People are soo Crule they should be in the Pet Shelter for once!

  29. I meen Bye them from other People. Now where I live they think they love there Pets but they leave them in there Gerage beat them kick them hit them with paper & fly swayed them I think some younger Teens are meen. They all need too be stopped.

  30. You are an idiot and you went out of your way to insult a friend on craigs list by telling her the picture she posted was bad. Considering that she personally and with her own money saves dozens of animals from horrible deaths I would think you would say something appreciative.
    Your ideas are not original, you steal them from Nathan
    Winograd and what could be stupider than saying that people aren’t dumping and they are doing the right thing.
    They are dumping and they are doing something awful because they very likely will be killed .

    1. I have never visited Craigslist although I have clicked links to individual postings sent to me. And yeah, I “steal” my ideas from Nathan Winograd. I know he meant to keep his ideas a secret but I managed to get copies of his books and gained access to his blog and found out the secret location of his national No Kill Conference so I went ahead and plundered.

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