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Last Tuesday I spent the afternoon at the MSPCA animal shelter, where I heard the stories of several people who were surrendering their pets. Some of the stories were stupid, most were unfortunate, and all were heartbreaking. One man brought in two feral cats he trapped; both were euthanized. One old man brought in a very old dog that was panting like it was 100 degrees out--they told him the price to surrender versus the price to euthanize; the dog was euthanized. One woman--I'm guessing a cancer sufferer going through chemo--wearing a bandana on her bald head--brought in an elderly cat to euthanize. Another woman brought in a small dog in a cat carrier, it was a nice dog but wouldn't stop putting it's teeth on her, and she didn't know how to deal with it. An older couple brought in an unneutered pure bred German shepherd which had bitten one of their young relatives and was no longer trusted, and would not be accepted by a German shepherd rescue; it was taken away and euthanized. A young couple brought a dog they bought from a southern breeder that advertised online; they recently moved and could not keep the dog.

Everyone sat for a very long surrender interview. There were lots of questions, some of them personal, very detailed, about the surrendered animal's behavior. What's his favorite toy? How does she act around other dogs? Has he ever bitten anyone? How long can she go unattended before she goes to the bathroom? Have you ever taken anything away from him while he was eating it?

The woman in the older couple sat for the interview while her husband wandered nearby, talking to the other dogs and trying not to cry. Then he took the dog around to the other entrance to be euthanized, and they waited for a long time to get their leash and chain back.

The man with the feral cats consoled everyone that animals have souls and that if they loved their pets they would be reunited with them in heaven.

The cancer sufferer cried. The young couple cried. I cried.

It was the worst day in a bad week.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
I honestly don't know how people can work in these places and not either despair for humanity or function at all. The sadness and anger must be overwhelming. Why did you spend the day there?
May. 2nd, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
Brought in a stray cat, clearly someone's lost pet.
May. 1st, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
Now I want to cry. I can't imagine having to be there to be a part of all that.

We got our Abby from the Humane Society. She was a challenging animal. She was overweight, ornery, and a beast at the vet. But I never considered surrendering her. The day I took her home I committed to doing everything for her. And I did, right until the end.

I know everyone has their reasons, and clearly they don't take the decision lightly. It just sucks for everyone.
May. 2nd, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
This is why I have six cats. I can't turn them away, I can't take them to a shelter. It would break my heart.

Two of mine were ferals. One is socialized enought to sleep with us on the bed, but will scratch and bite if she doesn't like the way you touch her. The other will just barely let me, and only me, pet him and wont let me pick him up. But he's a sweet cat, just really skittish. (Read: Not adoptable)

The latest one was an elderly stray that took up residence under my porch, we suspect someone dumped her off nearby or just turned her out to fend for herself, which she obviously couldn't do because she was starving. She has thyroid disease, chronic kidney disease, bad teeth, ingrown claw problems, and arthritis. She most likely would have been euthanized if I had turned her in at a shelter. She now sleeps on the back of the couch under her sunlamp (my reading lamp.) She prefers people food to cat food specifically cheese and chicken, but will also chew on pizza crusts.

My Snowy came from New Orleans, she was a Katrina rescue.

And Tuna was duct taped in a box with her siblings at 4 weeks old and left on the doorstep of a vets office. She came to me as a foster, still being bottle fed.

Sometime I really hate people.

May. 2nd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
This is why I foster shelter animals rather than working at the shelter itself. I just couldn't keep from putting my fist into someone's idiot face, or developing a drinking problem.

But I'm glad that you can do it, a little bit. It's important.
May. 2nd, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
exactly right.
May. 2nd, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
thank you for your time, as a foster carer and admin volunteer
if it weren't for people like you i'd have such a small family!

our newest addition was plucked from termination into a no-kill shelter where the adorable blighter was overlooked for more than a year.. sure he's torn a few ears and broken my nose but he's learned his place in our pack is just a big ball of love..

shelter rescues - who says you can't choose your family ;)
May. 2nd, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Re: thank you for your time, as a foster carer and admin volunteer
torn a few ears?! how many do you have?
May. 2nd, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Re: thank you for your time, as a foster carer and admin volunteer
i'm assuming they mean dog ears!
May. 2nd, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
...i'm so sorry. that sucks :(

the only comfort i can offer (and i realize this is cold comfort) is that over in the farm animals, we are SO MUCH HAPPIER with any surrenders than with seizures. (our herd of minis is finally, finally healthy enough to start going home.) and any rescue that comes in before the critter requires a ton of rehabilitation is one to be thankful for.

euthanasia sucks but it beats starvation. for everyone, the animal especially.

(horse in icon an old friend of mine who came through the mspca years after i knew her, thin and foundered and with cancer. she went into foster, thence into foster failure. i am glad.)
May. 2nd, 2012 02:24 am (UTC)
Ugh. I'm so sorry. You honored them all beautifully with this post.
May. 3rd, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
So what is the price difference to surrender vs euthanize?

We took in a couple stray kittens that we found starving in our apartment parking lot. We fed them and named them and grew quite attached to them. They had a bad habit of urinating where they shouldn't, and we really couldn't afford more cats. So we took them to the animal shelter, and were going to surrender them. We were told that it would cost $50 each to surrender them. We didn't have the money to do that, so we took them back home. Lucky for them, Kelly and Grevy still live with us.

When I was a teenager I once surrendered a stray dog to the Humane Society. The people there were very mean to me. I can understand why they think all people are assholes. They asked me why I was surrendering MY dog. I told them that it wasn't my dog. It was a stray dog in my parents' neighborhood and I was bringing it to them so my father wouldn't shoot it. Then the lady looked at me very wide eyed. I wasn't kidding either. I watched my dad shoot and kill a stray dog in our yard when I was about 12. :( Whatever happened to that poor dog was better than my dad shooting it.
May. 4th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
I just got back from Chile where the majority of the people think that sterilizing your pet is cruel.

What is really cruel is the amount of dead stray dogs that I saw run over on the side of the highway.

Thanks for your post - very touching.

May. 4th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Boo Boo (a nickname) one of the cats I feed I suspect has mange, huffs when he breathes...eyes leak pus...but I only see him in the summer months. Never the winter. Which means he was either dumped or he is someone's pet.
Arabella, another stray cat took over our garage and we let her and fed her since we already feed another "outside" cat that was dumped and adopted us. Imagine my surprise a couple days ago when I see a kitten with her. And 2 this morning.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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