Another Reason We Need Shelter Reform

On Tuesday of last week, I was driving home when I saw an emaciated dog running on a rural road.  As I slowed my car, she attempted to approach so I took it she was friendly.  I was very close to home at that point so decided to go get her something to eat.  We don’t personally have the resources to do the job our taxpayer funded shelter is supposed be doing, but we always try to help as best we are able.

At the house, I grabbed a hunk of cornbread that was ready for the dogs’ dinner and Billy grabbed a raw meaty bone.  We drove back to the area where we had seen the dog.  She was still there and walked right up to gently take the cornbread from my hand.  Her tail was wagging like mad when we left her with the bone.  On the very short drive back, Billy suggested we should leave her some kibble.  So he scooped up a gelato container full of kibble at the house and we returned to the dog eating her bone.  Lying down, she was hardly recognizable as a dog, looking merely like an oddly stacked pile of bones under a towel.  She was again super friendly and devoured the kibble, although she was willing to leave it in order to return to our car for some love.  On the way home, I said we should have thought about bringing her water since kibble makes dogs thirsty.  Billy went inside the house and emerged with a container full of water.

This time when we returned to the area, the dog was nowhere in sight and her bone was at the roadside.  There were two cars stopped in the road ahead, the drivers talking to one another.  One of them had a Dalmatian puppy in the cab of his truck but I couldn’t see inside the other vehicle.  They drove away and we left the water but never saw the dog again.  The only thing I could imagine that would make that starving dog leave her bone was the opportunity for human affection.  I assume one of those stopped drivers picked her up.

My heart sank when Billy said, “Oh no.  I hope they didn’t take her to the animal shelter.”  It was a real possibility because so many compassionate people believe their local animal shelter is the proper place to take animals in need and that the people who work there love animals.  The truth is that our local pound, like so many others across this country, is little more than a pet slaughterhouse.  They kill 3 out of every 4 pets in their care and the only effort that seems to be expended is in covering up the killing and hiding it from the public.  They like to promote how, instead of doing their jobs, they ship the dogs they are supposed to be caring for up north, where animals in shelters are also killed.  Our local public shelter is no safe haven and if this dog was brought there, she would have very little chance of survival.

I’ve been thinking of this poor dog every day since Tuesday.  My hope is that she was picked up and brought home by someone who was in a position to care for her.  I am clinging to that hope.  If it weren’t for the actions I hear about every day from the so-called irresponsible public, whom pound directors blame for the killing they do, I would have no such hope.  Thank you irresponsible public for defying the labels hung on you by shelter pet killers everywhere.  I will keep working for shelter reform so that one day, my local shelter will truly be a safe haven for dogs and cats in need.

31 thoughts on “Another Reason We Need Shelter Reform

  1. I like to think that they mean well. Even if the result is taking the dog to the shelter, they mean well. The failing isn’t in the people, it’s in the shelter system. And yes, that’s what needs to change.

    1. That’s my feeling as well – kind-hearted people thinking no one WANTS to kill animals and that an animal shelter protects the dogs and cats in its care. And pet killing directors meanwhile blaming them for the killing while simultaneously holding their hand out for donations so they “can continue our good works”.

  2. The failing starts at HOME. Unwanted pets are discarded on the streets everyday of our lives. The shelters are full, overflowing taking in all of the irresponsible owners pets. Don’t blame the shelters folks, take a good look at your neighbors.

    1. That is a disgusting comment to make Paula. Don’t make another one like it or you will be banned. We don’t excuse or attempt to justify the killing of shelter pets on the blog. Nor do we blame the people who save them from being killed.

    2. So I guess social services should just start killing off all those children in the foster care system, right?

  3. You should have brought the dog back to your house right away. And maybe, just MAYBE the people who stopped, owned that dog and were looking for it! :)

    1. You shouldn’t just bring a random street dog home, especially if you have other animals, as you risk exposing them to parasites and who knows what else. I found a dog about a month ago, and not only did she have fleas, she had an upper respiratory infection that needed treatment with antibiotics. The URI could have been contagious to my dog, although he’s fully vaxed and pretty healthy, that’s not a risk you want to take. I did get the street doggy treated for fleas and got her a shot of antibiotics, and I did keep them separated for a few days until she stopped wheezing. I spent $75 at the vet within an hour of finding the dog, and I was lucky enough to have the spare room to be able to keep the dogs separated. Not everybody can do that. (BTW I did end up keeping the dog, who turned out to be hw+, and is going to cost me a lot more money. She’s curled up next to my leg right now.)

      1. Treating a dog for HW is really cheap.. do “Slow Kill”. more and more vets are now getting it threw their heads that Slow Kill is the way to go. it’s cheap and a lot easier on the dog.

      2. Yes definitely ask your vet about the slow kill method. I adopted a HW+ dog and my vet was fine with me doing that form of treatment. She took a chest x-ray and determined she could safely undergo spay surgery so we went ahead with that too. Also, thank you for helping the dog!

      3. Yep, we talked about possibly doing slow kill, depending on the stage. She has her appointment for her chest x-ray in a couple of weeks. In the meantime she’s already on doxycycline, which they do as pre-treatment either way, and it’s gotten ridiculously expensive since the last time I did this. My other dog was hw+ when I adopted him too, and I did the Immiticide treatment with him. It was stressful and expensive, but it was over with in a couple of months, and I knew the heartworms weren’t doing any more damage to his lungs.

      4. I rescue dogs all by myself. I currently have six in my house. Three are fosters. I keep Kennel Cough, 7-1 vaccines and antibiotics in my frig just in case there’s a dog who needs a place in a hurry. Not too long ago during a very bad thunder storm a strange dog showed up on my porch, he was so terrified I couldn’t leave him out there. He was wearing a collar, no tags, next day I took him to the vet, no microchip. I took pictures and posted him everywhere. 5 days later he was reunited with his owner. Turns out this dog was 13 years old and very much loved by his elderly owner. It’s really cheap to keep extra vaccines on hand. As I was reading the story, I was getting scared that the last trip back to the dog would say the dog had been hit by a car, then I was worried that the other people that stopped then left could be people that would use a dog as a bait dog. I sure pray that dog is safe.

      5. That’s great that you do that, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable diagnosing and treating a dog on my own. This is actually the first time vet care has ever been an issue with a found dog – normally when I find a loose dog they have ID tags, and/or it’s a neighbor dog and I already know where they belong, and I just take them to their home.

  4. I have to respond here to Dove’s comment. I’ve been an AC Director in two counties in TN pushing and succeeding on saving animals and changing (slightly) those two counties. I live in a county that I served in as AC Director. A rural county where one Commissioner stated IN session “Animal Control in Cheatham County is a loaded 45!” My husband and I literally save a dozen dogs a year out of our pocket and foster and find them homes. DON’T THANK ME. We’re tapped and stressed because of it. It’s hurt us financially – and it’s because of my lack of boundaries. We are also the humans for 5 of our own rescues now family members.

    OK – what I’m getting at is this…For all you do Shirley – it pained me to read Dove’s comment. I didn’t get angry – it just pained me for a lack Dove’s lack of thought. Just as it pains me that I have to “secretly” find homes for the dogs we have rescued and vetted and fostered…why? Because to some it’s never enough. AND from some – the quick judgement of how what when and where a human “should” tend to a stray animal is always there. Blurted out in judgement because a human didn’t respond the same way another human would have – or could have. Shelter Reform is the issue. We caring compassionate humans are NOT the issue. Dove – I doubt that one of those cars stopped was the owner of the dog because obviously the “owner” didn’t’ give a damn. BUT – I do think that one of these people picked up the dog to care for it at their home. I’ve seen it hundreds of time and I cling to that thought too.

    What Shirley and her husband did was increase the animal’s trust in humans and give it another chance to be saved. HUGS all around.

    1. I love most of this post, but … there’s no evidence in Shirley’s account to support the assertion that the dog’s owner didn’t care for her. All we can reasonably assume is that, wherever she lived before she was found on the road, she learned to love and trust people. That would suggest she had a good home at some time in the past, at the very least.

      It’s unreasonable to assume that every lost starving pet found by the road was intentionally abandoned, or lost through an owner’s or caretaker’s gross incompetence or neglect. Sometimes, accidents happen. Sometimes, even very good homes lose pets. Sometimes, despite every effort, those pets aren’t found.

      1. I agree. Right now I am spending at least an hour a day looking for a family members cat who escaped a few weeks ago. He escaped because their parents were in town- 93 and 95 years old; and one of them left the back door open and didn’t latch the screen door, so the cat just pushed the door open and took off. Who do you blame in that situation? My family member could not lock the cat up for a week while they were in town. You can’t blame a 95 year old man for forgetting to close a door properly. The cat was never neglected or abused or abandoned. So far, we have filed a missing pet report with the county- walked through our local “shelter”, looked at all the animals animal control picks up on a daily basis (they are posted online), contacted the neighboring county’s shelter, posted multiple places online, etc. We put out food in 3 places every day and last week we had a bear (!!) in the back yard eating the dang cat food. We have spotted the cat 3 times over the last few weeks around the property, but he is doesn’t seem to have any interest in coming back in the house. He is a reformed feral so he seems to have slipped back into that a bit. He is fixed, vaccinated, and ear tipped and a lot of people are on the lookout for him, so we can only hope he is found, and that if he is found by someone who does not know he is our cat, that they don’t think he was neglected or abandoned, because that is not what happened at all.

  5. I am in rescue, have been for 5 years. I have saved countless animals from the shelters and from the mills, and several owner surrenders It’s the people taking in their senior animals to the shelter and coming out with younger animals. I would love to live in a no-kill society, so would everyone. You took my comment above in the wrong context. I am on the red alert lists daily trying to pull dogs from the high kill shelters. I believe in a no kill nation, but the education has to start at home. Then we can educate the public.

    1. You said: “The failing starts at HOME. Unwanted pets are discarded on the streets everyday of our lives. The shelters are full, overflowing taking in all of the irresponsible owners pets. Don’t blame the shelters folks, take a good look at your neighbors.”

      This is the same blame-the-public crap we’ve been hearing from shelter pet killers and their enablers for years. No one took your comment in the “wrong context”. Your comment was wrong. Full stop. You don’t get a pass because you’re “in rescue”.

    2. No, there is no context that would make what you said ok. You said “Don’t blame the shelters…” If a shelter kills an animal for any reason other than that animal being severely ill or having severe and intractable behavior problems, the shelter is to be blamed for the killing. It doesn’t matter how the animal ended up in the shelter or how the animal came to exist in the first place, even if it was from a BYB or “oops” litter.

    3. Not only have I educated myself, but my children are quite familiar with doing their share, and actively help me when I’m in any kind of shape to do rescue. The kind of moron who abandons an old dog is just as likely to abandon a young one too, and is STILL no reason for the ‘shelters’ to murder these animals rather than find them a loving home. I know we can be NO Kill, but the shelters MUST take responsibility first.

    4. Agree that it’s the facility that is doing the killing. So they absolutely are the ones to make the decision to kill or not to kill. There will always be a need for shelters, true shelters. Education and supporting pet owners is important, but the bottom line is what shelters do once the animals are in their “care”. And too many of them have one solution – KILL.

  6. I count myself as one of the lucky few who lives in a county with a county shelter run by a non-profit with a 98% adoption/RTO rate. I never fear bringing a loose dog into the shelter because I know they have a 98% chance of getting out of the shelter alive. Those are good odds. This is how it should be everywhere.

  7. God my heart breaks when I hear these stories and they are so true.
    Shelters are killing machines. We must have shelter reform. Prayers for the little lost dog and all the 9000 that will die at mans hands today.

  8. My fears are the dog fighters and the unscrupulous ones who sell to dealers.
    I always bring those dogs home, find a place for them, and start networking. I learned a long time ago to never leave these souls by the side of the road no matter what I have to do temporarily.

  9. Piper, I think there’s a very good chance you will get that cat back. There is excellent, expert info on lost cat behavior and recovery on the Missing Pet Partnership site (a non-profit group). If the cat is a former feral and is fearful of new people, there is a good chance he is hiding close by and has not run away. How and where to look is influenced by a number of factors. (Also see their blog and YT videos). Please see Pet Recovery Tips (they are species specific and behavior specific) – and

    Since so much more can be done to recover lost pets, I really think this is info everyone should become familiar with; it needs to be shared with those who’ve lost pets, as well as rescue groups, TNR groups, vets, shelters and animal control, etc.

    I’ve been able to get municipalities to post links to this and other local info about lost pet recovery on their website by writing up info they can copy and paste, and the reasons for doing so.

    The facts show we need to consider that stray pets are lost pets (or possibly stolen pets), and we MUST do a lot more to try to get them back home as part of the No Kill Equation, to reduce the number who end up at animal control, in rescues, or living on the streets. That is, we need to “Think lost, NOT stray” * to help overcome the many barriers to getting more pets back home.


    1. We have a new facebook page dealing with lost and found pets in our area, as well as tips for finding lost animals and reuniting pets with their families. Our biggest challenge right now is convincing the facilities in the area to have a decent lost/found page with pictures of the strays that they have so people who cannot get to those facilities in person can check each day. There’s a lot of reluctance to do that – economics, territorial?, not sure what else. We need to work together if we are going to get these animals home or rehomed.

      1. Well, in my county, it’s lack of will. They don’t want to post pets because “they don’t have time”. Pet RTO is simply not a priority for them, so it all falls on the owners. Which…good luck with that if you work during the scant hours the shelter is open…

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