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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughts While Waiting for Paint to Dry...

I have written a novel. It is in the process of editing before I submit it. To who I will submit it- I do not know yet. I figured, write first.. and figure it all out later. I suck at editing so it is taking forever. What I wrote about is a story that revolves around people who work at a "kill" shelter. It is something that has been on my mind a lot. From volunteering I learned a lot about the people who work in "no kill" and "kill" shelters and know that there is a hell of a lot of emotion and hard work that goes into both. As an artist, I have been able to stand back and watch instead of do and it has given me a lot to think about. What really struck me the most, was when I photographed the euthanasia and the director broke down in tears. I have talked about it before on here - but, I was so unprepared about what that does to a person and it still bothers me so much. In that instance, she was a vet who had left her practice and become the shelter director of a small, rural shelter that accepts all dogs and cats. That particular shelter had a high euthanasia rate, but was able to reduce it significantly due to their Rolling Rescue program. They were just receiving more animals than were being adopted, fostered, or taken to "no kills"... the transport program is the only thing that keeps many of the animals alive. It was that moment, in the euthanasia room, that inspired me to write a story... a fictional story, but one very much inspired by the truth... that was in late 2006.. and it took me until 2011 to do it.

Because of the writing.. and of course the art.. and my own personal interest, I have been obsessed with the world of shelters for some time now. I have followed many stories about good rescues and bad and I have watched groups work to make improvements in shelters and some who place blame. It is such an emotional issue. It is one that is easy to stand back and throw blame, but one that once you get your hands dirty you have a much better understanding of the truth. One thing that has been bothering me for sometime is the idea that some people have about shelter workers. I have seen such horrible things said about them- people call them murderers and say that they hope they go to hell. Horrible stuff. I even saw a group say that the workers at the Miami shelter "enjoyed killing". It is sick the things that I have read. I can honestly say that I have met several shelter people and not one has ever said they enjoyed killing or liked that part of their job. It wasn't just that one shelter director that I have seen become emotional .... I have seen intense emotion from many people who work at various shelters who are so overwhelmed and disturbed by that aspect of their job.

If people would just stop dumping their pets it would make the killing stop. If there were truly enough homes for them all it would end.. but, there is no end in site. Too many people fight against the simple fact that dogs and cats must be fixed- there are simply too many. People are still buying pets that come from backyard breeders and puppy mills. It is big business and there appear to be people who want to divert the attention of the need to stop the breeding and push the blame to the people who work in the open door shelters. The euthanasia is not the cause - the euthanasia is the effect caused by the affect of those protecting the breeding industry. We need to be careful about where we point our fingers.

As I have seen firsthand is that "no kill" shelters can exists successfully, but in order for them to be a success they cannot be open door. If they accept every dog and cat then they end up in the same boat as the "kill" shelters - a shelter full of animals with out enough people wanting them. It is a case of want that also adds to the problem. People want certain types of pets. People who want cute fluffy dogs will not be interested in the thousands of pit bulls and labs sitting in shelters right now. Too often, those people that have specific wants don't even bother with the shelter because there is such an over abundance of breeders out there spewing out popular dogs. The sad thing is that a simple search on Petfinder would let those people who want ..see that those same dogs and puppies are in shelters all across the country.. and often for a much lower adoption fee than a breeder charges. Some "No Kill" shelters understand the fact of the want and take in only those dogs or cats that are highly wanted.

I just felt like just getting those thoughts out here tonight.. doing this blog writing while I wait for paint to dry on some mixed media paintings I am doing ... using images of dogs that were never adopted... they were never taken by "no kills" or fosters.. they died.. and I know the person who had to make the decision to euthanize them.. and I know that she didn't take it lightly.. because I was there one day when that same decision was made on others.. and saw her cry.

1 comment:

Keira said...

Shelter workers are often like hospice workers. They are trying to make the best of a bad situation and trying to give the dogs the best quality of life even while knowing there is always a possibility of having to place them to the other side to make room for another. It often makes them work that much harder to find them homes or foster homes so that another piece of their heart isn't stolen away by an end that they didn't want for the animal. If only more people knew what shelter workers are really going through and the little bit of happiness they provide these animals. Thank you for this blog and all you do!