I often find myself watching people cry at the animal shelter. It ranges from tearing up at the healthy kittens, or watching the sweetest dogs be shipped out to get put down. It is hard to watch people cry. I hate it. It makes me cry. I have to take breaks after people leave crying. There are a lot of times though, that I get stuck with a crying family, saying goodbye to their dog in its third quarantine. Watching fathers hold their daughter’s flailing and screaming bodies while we take an animal out of the house. Dogs are animals. They bite if you don’t know what you are doing, and most often, dogs are not suited for children, only because of a parent’s lack of training. A dog can most certainly be tolerable for you, but it can be a different story around the food bowl, the toys, and even the couch. Families do get three chances with their dog. Muzzling, training, rehabilitation, fostering… None of it really works when it comes down to the owner’s ignorance and anger. It angers me to watch cases go downhill. I hate it more when parents bring in their kids to watch everything. Being put in a kennel. being played with by other people. Having the dog be more responsive and attached to us by the end of a quarantine, and watching the dog completely ignore the family. Yet again, this ends in tears. For most of everybody. A hard case that I had to be a part of was having a grown man come into the shelter with two cats, who loved him dearly. He was being kicked out of his apartment, along with every body else, for a walmart moving into town. Nowhere would accept animals in apartments, and the weather wasn’t on his side. He tried a tent, and a car, but the cats wouldn’t have it. When he brought them in, I let him walk them into the back, and put them in their kennels, and spend time with them. Full blown tears. Filled to the rim with anger. All because of a big production monopoly game. He came back every, single, day. He cleaned their kennels for us, he bought them special food, he spent more time with them than any one of us staff ever could. It was heart wrenching. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get his cats back, after three months. They were beautiful. The blackest black, and the greenest eyes. Brother and sister. Spayed and neutered. Sweet as cupcakes. Mentally though, no animal should have to try to make it in a shelter. It is stressful, and for the most part, we try to keep animals only for emergencies and necessary treatment. We push the humane society here to take the animals for adoption. But the humane society won’t take black cats, bully breeds of dogs, or anything that they deem as unadoptable. So, the black cats had to stay with us. And, since people wouldn’t adopt them, because they weren’t kittens, or they didn’t stand out, they had to be euthanized. That was the first case that really made me cry. That gets into my dreams every now and then. (I hate walmart now, and refuse to shop there.) Working with animal control is no easy job. Emotionally tolling, I see why so many people quit so soon after starting. Somebody has to do it though.
There are also happy things. I get to see young girls adopt their first cat, and boys walk their first dog. I get to teach kids how to handle animals. I walk kids and their new dog through the park with, teaching them off-leash and on-leash training, recall, and even how to feed the dog. I sit in the office with young children and teach them how to gently play with a kitten. How to hold them, how to play with a string so it won’t hurt their claws, how to sit and not stand when playing. I can get to a kid’s learning center in the brain unlike a parent can, even if the window is very small and short-lived. I am the bringer of the animal, and that gives me a small, and timed, teaching right to the kid. I love talking to the parents, hearing their honest thankfulness, and seeing them check in later with me, to tell me how amazing everything has turned out. That makes up for everything that pulled my sad strings.
Thank you for reading. Adopt, Don’t Breed.