Dumping of Senior Dogs


I try to help out the organizations that  help animals in shelters. In Chicago, one great organization is the Trio Animal Foundation. They pay the medical bills of dogs  dumped in open admissions shelters.

What is an open admission shelter?  They take any  pet that the owners surrender or is brought in as a stray—& that is the difference between the no-kill (such as PAWS Chicago) &  a real animal shelter. They do not pick & choose, They take all comers. That doesn’t mean they can all be saved, but it is supposed to mean a humane, painless death if they can not be saved or there is no home.

In 1987, a few weeks after I  euthanized  a 14-year-old Afghan Hound, who had become blind, deaf, and incontinent in a matter of weeks(thus I knew her quality of life was  very bad) ,  I was working at a grooming shop when a customer brought in a toy Poodle, and actually said to us, “I don’t know whether to have him groomed or put him to sleep.”  There was nothing wrong with the dog except for his teeth.  I just blurted out, “I’ll take him.”  Chuck was 15 years old. He lived to be almost 18.  His last few months he was crabby, but after I had most of his teeth pulled, he livened up and was a real character.  You wonder why nobody in the family (4 grown kids) wanted the dog.  They were finished playing with him, grown up, and never bonded. Sick?  Yes, and  these are our neighbors, or friends, your fellow church members. Thinking of a live animal as a toy to be discarded.

Happens all the time. I was working at a kennel, where  we got a memo from a manager at another kennel. They had a 12 year old Labrador Retriever that the owners had abandoned. The owners actually told the kennel manager that they  no longer wanted the dog because she wasn’t playful, and they were going to get a puppy.  So matter-of-fact.

You have to wonder how people can not be embarrassed.  This all came back to me, because  one of the  leaders or Trio posted on their Facebook page that  she was at one of the shelters they work with & a couple brought in an old Poodle they no longer wanted. Said nothing about not being able to afford veterinary care or grooming.  Just dumping a now inconvenient dog.  The dog had abcessed teeth, which caused other health issues.  His veterinary care would cost  over a thousand dollars, & the person who posted  wondered how  we could afford to care for so many old dogs, and who would foster them or adopt them.  The answer is:

We can’t.  For every dog we try to save that will possibly live a few more weeks in stress & discomfort, we can’t  do the teeth  on a younger dog, or treat mange, or eyelid entropy. or—name it.  We have a larger problem here that these do-gooders don’t want to address:  as Malcolm Gladwell addressed in his book, we have not reached The Tipping Point.

That is the point where the conventional wisdom—-what everyone believes—is that  you really have to put some thought  into owning a pet, and not impulsively get a puppy as a plaything.  Due to the economy, due to the libertarians who think fracking for fuel at the expense of  our drinking water—- is the way to go, due to the people who think sending people to die in Afghanistan is a cost effective way to protect our freedom,  we are of the national mindset that the humane thing to do with an unwanted pet is to  dump it at an animal shelter (as the alternative is, of course, just abandoning it in a dumpster or park—so they are at least giving the pet & someone else the choice!) and no more thought need be given.

What kind of thinking do we need changed? We need to  get the word out that there IS a pet surplus, that shopping at pet shops that buy from  commercial livestock breeders  & sell pets is wrong, that people really have to think more carefully about why they want a pet. We have to get more people who care about this to demand that not so many  livestock pet breeders be licensed, and that the laws inspecting them be tightened up, and more fines be  enacted & collected to support shelters  and humane education.

I notice  on Craigslist that many people looking for a pet (the site is not a pet wanted site…shows you that peoples’  reading comprehension is atrocious) want cheap pets, and we have to  get the word out that if you want a cheap pet, you can’t afford a pet, and don’t really understand the responsibilities of pet ownership.

It’s shocking and demoralizing to me the  many people who think they are getting Lassie, or Eddie from Frazier, or Beethoven, or a cartoon dog, and even with the internet, can’t find books on dog training,  or on how to find a dog and not get ripped off.

It is even sadder that we euthanize so many dogs that could be wonderful pets because so many idiots keep bad breeders —& that’s mostly the ‘backyard breeders’—- in business.

The ironic  thing that  people don’t understand is—just because you see something for sale, it doesn’t mean it gets sold.  All those people who bred their Pit Bulls for fun & profit, & has so much fun with those puppies—it’s them. They should be made responsible for those dogs.

I point out to people that you rarely, if ever, see Scottish Deerhounds, Gordon Setters,  Salukis , Portuguese Water Dogs, or English Toy Spaniels in rescue. The breeders keep close tabs on who buys their pups, and make it very clear that they want those dogs back if the buyers  change their minds—no matter how old the dog is.

Yes, of course, they do euthanize dogs.  But  they don’t leave the decisions to others. They take responsibility. What a concept.

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