Sunday, January 13, 2008
Every week animals are euthanized at the animal shelter that I have been working with. Every year millions (not hundreds or thousands - millions) are killed each year in our country. It is so big it is hard to wrap the mind around - to really understand and grasp how this is happening. I don't really understand how something this huge keeps going on - I just don't.
I have been guilty of allowing my animals to reproduce in the past - I am now more upset with myself than ever. Especially after seeing 9 puppies put to sleep on Friday. I have been wrong. But I know better now - and my only hope is through my work to help other people know how wrong it is - to help them see the results of the irresponisibilty that exists.
It is easy to understand the suffering of the animals - but have you ever thought about those that must do the euthanasia? Has anyone ever thought about how by leaving an animal at the shelter affects those who work there? I bet most don't. The people who work there truly care about the animals. At the Newport shelter there are very dedicated and hard working individuals - and not unlike us they have the same emotions. Unlike those of us who are not in their position - their emotions are played with on a daily basis due to the "throw away" society that we live in. It may be out of sight and out of mind for those abandoning their animals - but for the shelter workers they are not afforded that luxury.
I went in fully expecting to feel grief over the animals that died, and I fully expected to see the terror and pain in the eyes of the animals as they met their fate. What I was not prepared for was to see the emotion from the workers involved. I wasn't prepared to see the pain of the animal control officer as he held back tears while gently holding the dogs as they were injected with the drugs. I wasn't expecting to see the tears from the director over her frustration and saddness over the act. If people don't care about the animals - I wish they could get a glimpse into what their actions do to the people. I wish they could see the care that the dogs and puppies received in their final moments - the soft touch, the words, the carefullness of placing their bodies in the bags. These people care so much and it hurt more than anything to see such good people forced to do this because of an irresponsible society.
Death for the castaway animals is not the solution - it is simply something that must be done due to the overwhelming numbers. On Friday I saw a dog waiting in the back of the animal control truck - waiting for a space - a space provided by the euthanized animals. They arrive all the time. The solution is to be responsible. To fix your pets. To adopt from shelter. To be better role models for the next generation. I saw 12 die on Friday - 12 is a small number in the scheme of things - but I am still in shock. I mourn for them.
I left the shelter searching for answers in my head. I left wondering about religion - did not God create these creatures - I am embarrassed for us all. But maybe there is no God. I am feeling so lost about this all and the only tool I have to stand up against it are my words and my art. That is the voice I have. I feel more strongly about what I am doing with the shelter now.