My dear friend Caroline of Saving Furry Friends Rescue in VA wrote a Letter to the Editor to her local paper last week and shared it with me.  Although it is specific to her area, as you read this, you will find that everything can easily be translated to the same issues everywhere.

Compassion for Creatures, It’s Time to Stop the Killing

My name is Caroline Watembach. I, along with 14 volunteers, run a small animal rescue,Saving Furry Friends, here in Smyth County. Our rescue’s primary focus is going into the animals shelter and saving the animals that are “out of time” to put it nicely. The animals, once in our care, receive veterinary care and either stay here with me or are placed into foster home in the area until a permanent home can be found for them.

I felt compelled to write today after receiving an email from a woman who was asking for help to find her dog a new home. Not because he was a bad dog and not because she had tired of him. The dear lady is desperately seeking a new home for her beloved pet because the dear little fellow is frightened of thunderstorms and barks during them. She does not take issue with this, however her neighbor does and has threatened to take her to court if he continues to bark during them. So, in essence if a home can not be found this dog will most likely die at the shelter…. His crime?? Being afraid of storms. The ironic thing of it is had this dog been barking at an intruder breaking into the neighbors car or home, I’m sure they’d have no complaints then.

I moved to this area 4 years ago. It’s a beautiful place to be, unless you’re an animal. I have never in my life seen such intolerance and blatant cruelty towards animals until I relocated here. I have seen the fear, sadness and betrayal in their eyes as they were led to a kennel at the shelter. I have seen animals starved literally to death. I have seen animals burned, beaten, abandoned and neglected. I have seen the courts give slaps on the wrists to the folks that abuse animals while imposing stiffer penalties for those that love and care for their animals but whose animal bark occasionally. Folks who abuse animals rarely stop there. The FBI recognizes this fact and has begun tracking animal abuse cases, for they are all too aware that animal abuse many times leads to the perpetration of more serious crimes on down the line.

Our message is simple folks: adopting an animal is generally a 15-20 year commitment. Research the breed you are thinking of adopting. A little research and you would have know that a border collie wouldn’t be a good match for you if you live in a one bedroom apartment. Smyth County Animal Shelter is NOT the doggie Hilton Hotel. Thousands of animals die there every year, that is not an exaggeration but rather a sad fact.

That is not to say we advocate dumping your pet on the side of the road (which by the way IS a crime). Dumped pets often starve to death, are shot,are hit by cars,sometimes not being killed instantly but languishing in pain for days until death becomes a welcome relief.

I have personally been present when folk bring their animals to the shelter for the most insane reasons from “It doesn’t match my new sofa” to “She went out and got herself pregnant”.

A few of my favorites (note the sarcasm) are:

1.) I’m giving him up because he has ticks/fleas.
SOLUTION: A trip to the veterinarians for some Frontline or Advantage would have solved that problem and saved a life.

2.) She went out and got herself pregnant.
SOLUTION: A trip to Margaret Mitchell Spay/Neuter Clinic would have stopped that from happening and several lives would have been saved. A low cost clinic, the fee for spaying/neutering is $60.00. The Smyth County Humane Society will also assist with cost if you qualify. Quite frankly folks if you cant afford to spay/neuter then you cant afford to have a dog.

3.) One gentleman, and I use that term very lightly, surrendered his lab because she was happy to see him when he pulled into the drive and she jumped up on his truck and scratched the paint off of his truck. Now she sits in the shelter on death-row, waiting to die, because she can not trim her own toenails. This is lunacy folks.
SOLUTION: Trim your animal’s nails. For those who do not know how to trim their dogs toenails give us a call, we’d be happy to come out and show you how to do it free of charge.

4.) He chews things when I leave him home alone.
SOLUTION: Buy a crate.

(Note – Also make sure you keep your pooch supplied with toys and items that can occupy their time and that they can safely chew on)

5.) He barks too much
SOLUTION: Dogs bark mostly, out of boredom. Take a trip to the dollar store and buy 2-3 toys. Citronella collars work well too.

6.) She wont stay in the yard
SOLUTION: Buy a kennel! Yes, I am aware this can be expensive. Search for a used one in the trade times. Or buy a tether for 15.00.

(Please note – Caroline is not a fan of outdoor or chained dogs but this is a better solution, to a degree, than a dead dog, either run over in the road or picked up by animal control and killed)

7.) Lost my job and can not afford to feed him/her.
SOLUTION: Smyth County Humane Society distributes free dogfood on Thursdays at Tractor Supply in Marion,to those that qualify.A world of thanks to Joan Baldwin for all of her hard work.

8.) Neighbors complaining.
SOLUTION: Everyone seems to have one neighbor like this. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you won’t make them happy. Some folks just have to have something to complain about or their day would be empty. However there are things you can do to try to head off problems. Don’t allow your animal to wander around in your neighborhood. When you walk your dog bring a bag to pick up “his business.”.If your dog has separation-anxiety, bring him with you when you leave, if possible. If that is not possible bring him inside so that he isn’t irritating your already unhappy neighbor.

(Note – No leaving dogs in vehicles in the heat!!)

9.) Found it as a stray.
SOLUTION: Call a local rescue. Call either us (Saving Furry Friends), Promised Land Animal Rescue or Appalachian Animal Rescue and we will try to help you rehome the animal you found. The sweetest words to my ears are when an animal is found and we receive a call that goes something like this, “We found a stray dog. It is the sweetest thing but we already have 2 dogs so we can’t keep it. We don’t want to take it to the shelter. Would you help us find it a home?”

I can’t promise a home will be found but we can at least try.

Animal Control is happy to assist with a stray that was found or a truly vicious dog on the loose. They are even happier to reunite a lost pet with its distraught family that has been searching for it.I know these folks, I speak with them daily and they are great people. I also know that they would rather be doing anything else other than killing your happy, healthy animal simply because the shelter is full.

Lastly, for those of you who are not animal lovers or advocates, try a little tolerance. There are those of us among us that regard our animal as if they are family. Spot may bark during a thunderstorm but perhaps Spot’s owner isn’t fond of you mowing at 6:30 a.m., your Friday night parties or having to hear your child crying at all hours of the night either.

You may not care for animals but surely you like it when taxes are not raised. Every time an animal is adopted, rescued or not brought to the shelter it saves Smyth County tax payers approximately $20.00. Likewise, for every animal that has to be euthanized, the medication used to end its life, coupled with the disposal expenses, costs Smyth County Taxpayers $20.00. That is just the expense per animal to kill them, we haven’t even mention costs associated with feeding them or emergency medical care. Our rescue has rescued and re-homed over 350 animals from Smyth County Animal Shelter and we did not even manage to save 10% of the animals that came in last year, thus saving the taxpayers approximately $7,000.00. That’s not counting animals spared through the efforts of Promised Land Animal Rescue or Appalachian Animal Rescue.

This letter, I am certain, will not earn us any fans, supporters or donations but that is not its intent. Its intent is to enlighten some folks in this county and to hopefully save a few lives; this little old rescuer’s heart has seen far to much suffering and far to many deaths in the four short years I have lived here. For an area that prides itself on hospitality, compassion and friendliness is it really so hard to extend some of that to the animals. After all they were created by the Lord, just like you and I.

I looked at the caged animals in the shelter…the cast offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry, “God,” I said “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?”

God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly “I have done something.” He replied, “I created you”

Exodus 13:2
Consecrate to me every first born male. The offspring of every womb…belongs to me, whether man or animal

Matthew 10:29
Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.

Caroline Watembach
Saving Furry Friends

Copyright 2009 – Saving Furry Friends/For the Love of the Dog Blog

I’m sure you can see how this applies to your area or city or town in many instances. So many deaths, so unnecessary.

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