I don’t cry often. I have quickly trained my mind to suppress any and all emotion to get the “job” done. If you sit and think too long about the horrors you’ve seen, or the things you’ve had to do because of others mistreatment, you wouldn’t go on to the next day. Sound dramatic? Ask any person in this field about the “push through” to risk your own ass to save theirs. The “push through” when you want to give up at the end of the day, but force yourself to sleep just to get enough shut eye so that you are half way decent to do it all again tomorrow. There are no “off” days for us. Even when you try and relax, your mind is racing with what you could be doing more of, or even worse, what you could have done differently. Today was a coulda-woulda-shoulda-wanna give up kind of day. Was it different than most days? No. Did I see pain and heartache and death more than usual? Not really. But it wasn’t until I was showering tonight that I realized I had boiled over the pot rim. It seems to go in a cycle, this boiling. It starts as a low simmer, and it’s all manageable. Then the bubbles arise as you start to boil, but it’s okay because you’re still able to keep it all in the pot. In fact, you can use the boil to cook something up real good. You know, make something better from the boil. Other times, when you aren’t paying attention, even when that good shit kinda cooking is in the works, it starts to heat up a bit. The boiling loses control and it bubbles up over the edge of the pot, making a simmering sound on the hot stove causing the boiling to happen. That “bubble over” happened as I washed the day off of me in the shower tonight. I went to shampoo my hair, and it was as if I was massaging all of the heartache I had seen out of my brain. Visuals of every animal I have had to euthanize came rushing through my mind. I shit you not, it was a story book of chapters full of lives that were taken by me. Lives I really had no choice but to take, lives I tried to save but couldn’t, lives I took to relieve pain, lives I took with no other option. Or, even worse, lives I didn’t have the resources at hand to take and had to slowly watch them suffer. All of these images rushed through my head. We are talking in the hundreds, people. As I rinsed the shampoo from my hair, and got out of the shower, it took everything in me to erase the images soaring through my brain. Do I regret decisions I have made in the past to ease the pain and be the voice for the voiceless when they can’t choose for themselves? Not even a little. But I can’t help but immediately be brought to the core of the issue with all of this. The core that causes me to sob alone in the shower. The issue that people in the rescue, shelter, and animal welfare world know all too well as the “core” of it all.
Lack of knowledge, resources, and understanding.
From Chiang Mai to Denver, mankind often lacks most of these things when it involves the creatures around us.
We are so quick to point fingers at other countries for allowing street dogs to roam neighborhoods, eating from the dumpster behind the local 7-eleven. Yet, we do so with our loyal golden retriever that we bought from a breeder sitting at our feet.
We support a “no-kill” movement and are disgusted when we hear of the rural shelters euthanizing hundreds in a week. Yet, we get impatient when the one rescue we tried to find a specific breed from had a waiting list, so we went to the pet store instead.
We throw stones at the people who “dump” their animals at the local shelter, yet would never think to adopt one ourselves from such a place.
But…the Pedigree is more important than a life saved, am I right?
When I see friends and family buy from a breeder or pet store, I don’t get angry with them. Instead, all I see is the involuntary wave of faces rush through my head. The faces that could have been saved if they chose a shelter dog instead of supporting people using animals for their gain. The lives that I, someone who spends every day trying to save animals, had to take in order for you to have the dog you have always pictured in your mind. Think that your “one” dog you bought from a breeder won’t make a difference? Try and explain to ME that your one dog won’t make a difference when I have to be the one to euthanize another “one” dog in its place.
There is not ROOM in shelters for you to have the mind set that your “one” dog won’t make a difference in the fight against overpopulation.
I need you to know that I grew up with store bought dogs. I have a pure bred shih tzu that I inherited from my grandmother. I had a pure bred lab that I sent to live with my ex years and year ago.
I WAS THAT PERSON.
I was that person until I grew to know the horrors behind the purchased pups that I loved so much. The moms that were used and used until they were thrown away to the shelters their puppies would hopefully never have to see. I was that person until I realized that animals are not here for our pleasure, but we should be here for theirs.
I was that person until I gained more knowledge about the animals behind the shelter walls that seemed so scary and broken.
I was that person and will never judge anyone merely due to lack of knowledge.
Allergic? Hypoallergenic dogs come through the shelter on the daily. The ones that were left behind when their owner died. The ones that may look like a dirty mop now, but can spruce up to be the fluffy pet store mutt you have always dreamed of.
Puppy? There are puppies by the thousands on the Indian reservation alone. Puppies being born to the wild and left under porches and left to die from the elements or diseases/viruses that run rampant in these areas. These same puppies get transferred weekly to find homes of their own. They can only hope that they’ll get the same chance as the puppies born in a backyard to a mom who is tired of being used to make a buck.
Purebred? TONS. Golden retrievers, Great Danes, Rottweilers, German Shepherds. You name it, and they are most likely sitting behind the bars of a kennel at a shelter being overlooked. They are waiting for you because someone else had a knee jerk reaction to buy the yellow Labrador from the pet store on Christmas Eve so that their kids could get tired of it by May.
I write this not to make anyone feel bad. I write this not to throw stones of my own as I stand tall on my welfare soap box. I write this not to blame anyone just because of lack of knowledge. I write this for the others like me that are sick and tired of having to lock up their emotions to push through another day, just to continue to sweep up the mistakes made by others. I write this for anyone that has had to be the ones to make the calls that no one else will- that has to love and care for an animal enough to be their voice when it’s their time to leave this earth. I write this in hopes that ONE person will decide that their ONE dog that they were going to purchase was not worth the life of the ones who have already been given up on.
I write this because I’m tired. We are tired.
I write this because we will keep going whether you change your mind or not.
I write this because your actions will not change the amount we fight. But damn, would it be nice if our fight changed your actions.