Perking Up A Bit….

One of my readers yesterday commented that we need to know our pet’s behaviors as well as our own, since obviously they can not tell us when they are feeling badly. Well, Cody sure has been peaked these last few days since his last chemo treatment on Friday. His face gets drawn in, his eyes look droopier and his demeanor changes. He seeks less interaction, sits by the front door until I get home and watches me from across the room constantly. He does rally sometimes… but clearly he is not feeling well.

Well today, just this morning he is looking better. Especially his face. It saddens me so much when he is feeling bad and I go through that guilt of why I am doing this… but it is the chemo that makes him sick right now and not the cancer. And I know we will get through it. And we have. He does look and feel better today, more energy and much happier. Whew!

I really think the exercise he gets every day is vitally important for him to turn the corner and process the chemo. He needs that blood circulation and he of course LOVES to run with the ball every day, even when he feels terrible. So the last few days we go out early in the morning when it is cooler and he runs about half his normal time. I make him quit sooner than usual… otherwise he would run himself ragged and I do not want that. He needs his rest.

And after the weekend of working too many hours and worrying about my boy, I see this on Facebook. I am on Facebook for a variety of reasons, mostly to connect with friends and to advertise my painting. But when I see things like this below, it breaks my heart and I realize that there is some power in social media. If this post that I copied from Facebook changes one person’s mind or behavior regarding their pet – viewing this pet as a PART OF THEIR FAMILY… then some good has been done today. It also came with a picture that I will not post, much too disturbing for my blog. The message however is clear:

“A Letter from a Shelter Manager – anonymous in North Carolina

I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside if you will.

First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know.

That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”, that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses I hear are; “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving too that doesn’t allow pets? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? “We don’t have time for her”. Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! “She’s tearing up our yard”. How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”.

Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.

Those dogs just don’t get adopted. It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.

If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.

I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt”. THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT.”

And so on that note, love your pets like I love mine. Take care of them like they are your babies, because their lives are in your hands. I fight for my dog’s life EVERY SINGLE DAY and I can not imagine my life without his wagging tail, his frito feet and his sloppy kisses. I dread that day. And if I could save every abandoned animal’s life I would… but it does not take ONE person… it takes everyone.

"The Family" A long time ago before Cody was sick, with a lot more meat on his bones.

The Family


~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on October 12, 2011.

One Response to “Perking Up A Bit….”

  1. Great post.

    Nothing fills me with a more seething hatred for humans than reading the “pets for adoption” section of any ad site, e.g. kijiji. Example from this summer: I’m having a baby in the next couple of weeks and we don’t want a cat around.” Aside from the whole cat/baby hysteria, it was for a f#2king four month-old kitten, so presumably by the time you got it, you were seven months pregnant. I mean did that pregnancy sneak up on you? (Given the whole “I didn’t know I was pregnant” phenomenon, I should know better than to ask), but still. And yes, the “we’re moving and can’t take our pet” thing. Just don’t move to places like that! I have yet to see “we’re moving to an adult free building so we’re putting our kids up for adoption.” Given the housing market, I’m sure someone who wanted to rent a house would have many options to find a dog/cat friendly place to go. This is why when I find “good” people, I stick by them and pay them attention. If it weren’t for them, I’d hate the entire human race and our collectively selfish, cruel and self-indulgent behaviour.

    Love that “animal riviera” picture. I get the same effect each morning when I open our south-facing door into our dark apartment, and it always makes me laugh how quickly they gather around to soak up the sun.

    Best to Cody and all your family.

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