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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Heartbreak and Hope: Working at a Shelter

Written by PETA | November 4, 2011

Before coming to PETA, I worked at a small animal shelter in rural South Carolina, where I saw firsthand why it’s crucial for shelters to accept every animal in need instead of turning animals away, as most so-called “no-kill” shelters do.

One day, a man showed up with a carrier containing a mother cat and five kittens. They were bony, greasy, and crawling with fleas. “This is the best cat in the world,” the man said. “This is her 18th litter of kittens!” I had to practically bite off my tongue to avoid bluntly informing him of how badly he’d contributed to the animal overpopulation and homelessness crisis. Instead, I politely accepted the cats and told him we’d sterilize his animals for free if he got any more.

Another time, a woman walked up carrying an old flour bag and a fruit bag, both of which were knotted shut. The bags contained terrified, unsocialized cats. “These cats are taking over—you gotta take ‘em,” she said. On another occasion, we were called out to pick up nine newborn puppies who were still nursing off their dead mother’s body under the house where their owners lived.

And I will never forget the day that a large, rough-looking man raced up in an old truck with an elderly dog in the back. I met him outside with a give-up form, waiting to hear his excuse. Instead, I got a rare glimpse of kindness: The dog wasn’t his. He’d found her looking ill by some train tracks, carried her to his truck, and sped to the shelter for help.

An examination revealed that she was suffering badly, possibly from congestive heart failure, and I explained that the best I could give her was a peaceful passing. The man agreed and insisted on staying while I wrapped the dog in a towel, carried her gently to an exam table, kissed her head, and gave her a lethal injection to end her suffering. If not for him, this poor angel would have surely died slowly and in agony.

Whenever I hear “no-kill” propaganda, I think of all the animals we helped at that open-admission shelter. Turning them away would have meant their suffering and certain, painful deaths, and caging them indefinitely is never a humane option. Some are too broken, too old, or just plain unwanted and will not be adopted. Euthanasia was and remains a mercy for many animals, although it breaks the hearts of those who choose to provide this kindness. What gives me hope is that spaying and neutering can drastically reduce the number of animals who end up homeless. Please, if you haven’t already, have your animals sterilized as soon as possible—and urge everyone you know to do so as well.

 

Written by Teresa Chagrin, PETA’s animal care & control specialist

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  • Irene Leggett says:

    Heartbreaking to read. There has GOT to be a way to reach the uneducated, uncaring and ignorant regarding spay/neuter, make it legal, enforce laws, close down all irresponsible breeders (puppy mills) stop selling pets from shops etc, do something, anything, to try and prevent the fact that thousands (possibly millions) of cats and dogs are euthanised worldwide every day of every week of every year.

  • memeof4 says:

    I am very blessed. Both of my cats were strays. I cry when I see abused and neglected animals. I thank God for all PETA does that helps all God’s creatures. Everday I see the horrors animals are subjected to on tv, online, and in magazines. Im so glad people both famous and everyday folks are making their feelings known and becoming proactive in the ongoing fight to stop the cruelty. God bless everyone who do what they do.

  • memeof4 says:

    I am very blessed. Both of my cats were strays. I cry when I see abused and neglected animals. I thank God for all PETA does that helps all God’s creatures. Everday I see the horrors animals are subjected to on tv, online, and in magazines. Im so glad people both famous and everyday folks are making their feelings known and becoming proactive in the ongoing fight to stop the cruelty. God bless everyone who do what they do.

  • Mukesh Tanwar says:

    Really it broke my heart to read this. I feel what they go through. Even they also feel joy and pain just like we do. They also want to be loved and cared for. Please adopt a pet from the shelters if you wish to have a pet and give them alots of love. It will come back to you more than what you give. This will put an end to animal breeding for domestication as these poor animals in shelter never get a chance to find a home due to this inhuman practice.

  • Laura Manz says:

    I am a member of a couple different shelters, open door and no-kill. I wish we lived in a world where every shelter could be no-kill. Hopefully that day will happen soon. Until then, open door shelters can provide the only alternative for so many animals in need. We must ban the gas chambers… and promise all these poor animals at least a peaceful end. They have committed no crime except to be unwanted. The ultimate answer is spaying and neutering… I know on this site I am preaching to the choir. I don’t know how to reach those who are irresponsible… Enact harsher laws for those who keep unaltered pets… or have unlicensed, unneutered animals??? I don’t have solutions. Only tears for the poor animals that must be euthanized because they are unwanted. There will never be enough homes until people change. I say a prayer for those who work in open door shelters. They have a job I could never do. Prayers for the souls of the poor animals. They end up in a better world than this…