Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ok to euthanize

Yesterday our staff visited the San Antonio Animal Care Services - their city shelter. It is a new facility, very clean and the staff and volunteers seem pleasant.

We went through two buildings with runs full of dogs classified as "stray". In fact, the staff designates the buildings as Stray 1 and Stray 2.

There were lots of dogs eager to get out of their cages. Some were thin, some had injuries, all had stories - we just don't know what they are. Most of them looked healthy, robust and irresistably endearing. There were dogs of all sizes, mostly young adults.

Each run had the dog's information in a plastic envelope attached to the front gate: the dog's breed, age, where it had been found, any meds. Many had this handwritten in black ink:

ok to euth 9/25

That meant okay to euthanize, September 25. That's Thursday. That's tomorrow.

One dog was lying in the back of her kennel. Unlike the other dogs, she didn't get up to greet us as we stopped at her kennel. She was nursing an injured hind leg. She was young, blonde fur, maybe a small lab. She had that written on the card on her door.

I know this is a fact of life. I know we can't save them all. I know we're doing our best and that we have to choose dogs that are likely to work in our training program: be able to master the behaviors, be good in public and do it all for a novice handler - the person getting the Hearing or Service Dog.


This shelter euthanizes 95% of its dogs.

They try to get rescue groups to take many of them. They don't push adoption much in their community because other facilities do. There were a handful of people looking for pets.

This is my 20th year doing this and it's still as fresh as the first time I ever saw an animal in need and wanted to help.

After we had dinner. After we drove back to Dripping Springs and dropped people off. After I made it home to Austin and settled in for the evening. Even though I took deep breaths, I couldn't hold back the tears. I just couldn't get it out of my head. "ok to euth 9/25". That brown eyed, yellow lab lying in the back of her kennel nursing her hurt leg. And all the rest of them.

Will it be peaceful for them when it happens? Will any one of them get adopted before it's time?

It's not just 9/25. It's a lot more. It's not just her. It's a lot more.

I have six pets, all from shelters. Well 5 from shelters, one from a tree at an abandoned house.

Does anyone need a pet? Do you know ANYone who is ready for some love, gratitude and affection in his or her life?

Don't wait! An animal needs you so much! Please take a drive to the San Antonio shelter if you live there - it's easy to find - it's on Hwy 151. Or if you live in Austin, we have a city shelter here near Cesar Chavez. is also an excellent site. You put in your zip code, and choose the kind of animal you're interested in and it gives you photos, bios and contact info for animals starting with those at places closest to you. You can even sort by age and gender.

I know you love animals or you wouldn't be reading this. If this blog moves anyone to go adopt a dog or cat from a shelter, it will unbreak my heart just a little bit.

Thank you,



Lauren said...

Very poignant and moving. I volunteer with a local rescue group, austin pets alive! and a few of our members are assigned with the heartbreaking task of walking the euth list every evening, look the condemed in the eye and make the decision whether he/she will live or die. All of our dogs are taken right from that list. I'm glad I don't have that job, but I am so very happy that someone is strong enough to do it. Even if you can save one, that is one that would otherwise die.

DogLogic said...

Thank you for your words and the work that you do.

I strongly believe that as more of the public learns what amazing things that shelter dogs can do, through a program like yours, through working as a Pet Partner with the Delta Society, just as being a wonderful pet - then them will be more willing to open their hearts and homes to shelter animals.