Posts Tagged Animal Shelter
I volunteer at a county animal shelter where my official title is “dog walker”. Initially, I focused solely on walking the little dogs because, the big dog section — filled mostly with Pit Bulls — intimidated me. The idea of getting in a kennel with any Pit with their substantial mass, “locking jaws” and general vicious reputation terrified me.
Then, one day the shelter’s kennel manager asked if I would join a new, small committee who’s charter is to drive up adoption rates. In less pretty terms, for the sake of the affected animals and the sanity of shelter staff, we needed to brainstorm ideas on driving down the euthanasia rate — an unfortunate reality in a county shelter when funds are limited and capacity is full.
Without hesitation, I agreed to join the committee and hoped to add value. During the first meeting, the objective became more specific. Our charter was to drive up the adoption rate for Pit Bulls. We discussed the cause of the over abundance of Pits in shelters and I disclosed I wasn’t a fan of “the breed”. I still wonder why they didn’t excuse me that day based on my stance at the time.
One of my first committee tasks was to write bios for the Pit Bulls’ kennels so they’d stand a better chance of attracting a potential adopter. I worked with the kennel staff who know them well to collect personality information. Regardless of the sweet individual facts I’d learn about each Pit, I’d still pass them up during my dog walking sessions, but it didn’t take long before I called BS on myself & thought “How can I write those nice things about the dogs if I didn’t believe them?” So, I forced myself to walk at least one Pit during each of my dog walking visits.
I started with a Pit named Jersey. She was in the room during one of our committee meetings & she didn’t eat me, so I figured we had a small foundation of trust that we could build on. Before long, I worked my way up to walking mostly Pits — after all, they often have lived in the shelter the longest & probably need/deserve a walk the most.
In addition to my hands-on learning, I began researching Pits. Here are a few facts I discovered:
- There is no physiological evidence that Pit Bulls have a locking jaw, nor do Pit Bulls have a higher bite pressure than any other breed.
- Pit Bulls are the victims of one of the harshest, often media driven breed specific smear campaigns ever.
- It is estimated that 3-4 million shelter cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the US. One million of those are Pit Bulls.
- It is reported on temperament tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society that Pit Bulls have a passing rate of 82% or better — compared to only 77% of the general dog population.
- Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is as dumb and unfair as any other form of prejudicial discrimination. It’s ineffective, costly, doesn’t solve the root of dog bite problems (neglectful pet owners) and ultimately costs many dogs their lives.
- It’s ridiculously easy to mistakenly identify a dog as a Pit Bull, and the instant that label is slapped on them at a shelter, their chances of adoption plummets because of BSL and the Pit Bull smear campaign.
- For Over 150 Years Americans Knew What Pit Bulls Were Famous For. BABYSITTING!
While the above knowledge helped me put a swift end to my prejudicial opinion on Pit Bulls, it was two pits from the shelter who lovingly taught me a new chapter in the age old lesson that “You can’t judge a book by its cover”:
Suzie: While taking her for a walk at the shelter, my husband tripped & fell. Suzie immediately laid down next to him and placed her head on his chest. I saw it with my own two eyes. This was the first time they had met, but she treated him like he was her life long companion who needed her comfort. It was one of the kindest swift reactions that I’d ever seen in a situation where a human needed help. She got adopted that day — not by us (we have a house full of rescues), but where ever she is I hope she’s with a family who deserves her love.
Jersey: The first Pit at the shelter who showed me that despite human ignorance and her less than happy history with owners who let her down, she still loves people unconditionally and can see and bring out the kindness in them.
This post is dedicated to Jersey — who after spending the majority of her life in the shelter, found her forever home this weekend. I wish her a lifetime of the happiness she deserves. Thanks for opening my eyes, sweet girl!
Today was the last day of fostering the kitties. They’re now 11 weeks old & ready to find their permanent homes. Weened? Check! Spayed/neutered? Check! Vaccinated? Check! There’s only one more critical check pending & that’s the “Adoption” check.
Returning them to the shelter where they’ll stand a better chance of finding their official families wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be — I conveniently had a plethora of distracting tasks to complete when I arrived AND I took a couple of great friends to keep me from veering off into a sobbing puddle of emotions (thank you, Shereen & Roger!).
It’s been fun to watch these furry bundles of cuteness grow from tiny newborns to these fine kitties:
Harper: Beautiful coloring, friendly & outgoing.
Smarty: Quick learner, curious & super easy-going.
Cougar: A cat who knows what she wants & isn’t afraid to use her cuteness to get it. She and Smarty are BFFs & would make fantastic roomies.
As with Momma cat, we’ll continue to visit and keep an eye on on them until they find their permanent families.
All the best, my furry friends! I’ll miss snuggling you everyday. ♥
The awesome guardians of the furry, four-legged friends at the county shelter that I volunteer at are taking me up on my offer to help open web channels so kind fellow earthlings, like you, can easily send their love!
You might not be in a position to take one of these sweet fur balls home, but you can now become an immediate hero by kindly granting one of their Amazon Wishes. You’ll notice the shelter is currently in desperate need of basic necessities.
Your furry friends at the shelter THANK YOU & so do I!!! 🙂
So, you’ll hear more about the #1 object of my affection tomorrow (of the non human variety), but for now let’s talk about these…
I know what you’re thinking… “It should be illegal to be that cute.” It’s not. I find their cuteness obnoxious & they don’t even belong to me. They belong to her..
…the sweetest, most attentive, beautiful momma cat that ever walked the face of the earth. Her instincts are impeccable — she knows who her friends are & won’t hesitate to clearly warn those who could present a risk to her babies. She’s homeless & was found by the amazing shelter that Skrockette & I volunteer at. She & her kitties are Skrockette’s and my 2nd fosters. Our first was Rudy (yup, named after that Rudy), he was thrown from a car window at 4 weeks old & rescued by the shelter…
…he’s officially what the shelter calls a “failed foster”. He won’t leave his foster home because parting with him would be unimaginable. He’s a Skrocki now & forever. 🙂
But back to our 2nd attempt at fostering — Momma cat & her four kitties. There’s Smarty (she was the first explorer of the litter & is always bright-eyed )…
… Harper (the social butterfly, she connects so deeply to the beings around her, Momma cat always has an extra eye on her)…
…Cougar (super sweet & reserved, not really like her namesake, but I wonder if she might not like branching out a bit)…
The only thing stopping me from not keeping them (ALL of them) is the fine line between me and an official “weirdo cat lady” title. Colorado is such a shelter pet friendly state, so I’m sure every one of them will find a home they love, but please do let me know if you’re interested in any of them — it would make me feel a thousand times better to find them a home with good people I personally know.