This Tired Trope

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From a story on

Shelters across the country are seeing an increase in pet drop-offs and lost strays.

Some shelter workers say people appear to no longer need their “emotional support animal” they acquired during the early months of the pandemic.

What a crummy thing to say. It conjures an image of some kind of sociopath who uses other beings for his personal comfort when needed, then tosses them aside when their usefulness wears thin. The long standing practice by shelter staff of demonizing people who bring pets to a place called animal shelter needs to be burned and the ashes ground to dust.

There are all kinds of people who bring pets to shelters for all kinds of reasons. Sure there is a minority of just plain lousy people who use the services of the local animal shelter. They also go to the DMV, the post office and the courthouse but I don’t see the staff at any of those places regularly trashing their customers in the media. Mostly, it’s non-lousy people using public services and doing their best.

The federal eviction moratorium put in place last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19 was ended early by the Supreme Court in August and as a result, people are losing their housing. Being forced to live in a car, a homeless shelter or on the streets is a valid reason for bringing pets to an animal shelter. (And no, it’s not appropriate to ask or expect to be told by the surrendering party that he is newly unhoused. Mind your business and do your job.)

And last I checked, someone who finds a stray dog in need of care and brings him to a shelter to get that care is a good Samaritan, not a creep. He is looking out for that animal, increasing public safety and oh yeah, doing your job.

I could list an array of additional valid reasons for people bringing animals to shelters but you know what? Forget that. Let’s circle back to the original accusation: a large percentage of people who adopted pets early in the pandemic are returning them to the shelters now. I haven’t seen any evidence supporting this claim but for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s accurate.

Even if shelters are filling up with returned pandemic pets, that is ok. It was the shelter staff’s job to find homes for those pets a year ago but an unexpected surge in adoptions relieved them of their duties for awhile. Those pets got vaccinated and neutered, got to live in a home, get some socialization and love and now they’re back at the shelter. Staff members need to pick up where they left off with marketing, off-site adoption events in high traffic sites and all their other regular efforts to find homes for the animals in their care. In fact, these animals should be easier to adopt out than they were a year ago due to the health and social benefits they’ve received.

Less shaming, more job doing please.

3 thoughts on “This Tired Trope

  1. I asked the shelter I volunteer at and they said they only had one return. They are waiting to see if the moratorium being lifted means people are being evicted and have to give up their pets but so far nothing more then usual. If I find a stray dog I am also taking it to the shelter because I don’t want a dog. And my house is full with cats right now and I can’t take another. I figure that is what shelters are for.

  2. And I blame much of this on the shelters, who saw an opportunity and PUSHED the idea of “pandemic puppies” .
    People went and got dogs in droves… with no thought for “what happens when we go back to work”
    How many actually worked with the dogs (training, socialization-difficult when you can’t GO anywhere and all the things necessary to have a good family companion.
    My heart breaks for all the dogs… but blaming the owners is exactly the wrong attitude

  3. We are now seeing shelters advertising “a home for the holidays” to get dogs out the door… when with their other face they berate breeders for doing the exact same thing

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