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I Could Never Work Here
When you say to an animal shelter or humane society employee "I could never do your job, it would
break my heart, I love animals too much" it sounds like you are saying:

-- We don't love animals as much as you do, even though we've taken minimum wage (or no wage)
jobs in order to work with homeless animals. For many of us it is our life's work.

-- We don't get our hearts broken.

-- In order to do this job one has to be either cold hearted or an animal hater.

Your declaration leaves us with some questions. If you can't do this job, who will? Someone must.

When we've euthanized the 500th kitten for the month, because there are no homes available, will
you take the 501st? Our hearts are completely torn out and we just can't kill one more. You already
have as many pets as you can afford to feed? We understand, we do too. Our cages are over
capacity, our foster homes are all full. Do you have a solution? If so, please tell us, we hate this part
of the job. Right now, at this moment, there is a dog or cat in a shelter employee's arms and there is
no where on earth for this creature to go. There is no cage space, no foster home, no forever home.
Nowhere. It is a heartbreaking feeling.

We could become a "no-kill" shelter and simply refuse to take more animals than we can house, but
what would happen to those we turned away? Would they be let loose to die of starvation or get run
over on the highway? Would they become the subject of a "free to good home" and go to a nameless
person whose intentions are unknown? We don't turn any animal away for any reason.

We have a really nice yellow lab mix named Jake. He's 3 years old, healthy, housebroken, loves kids,
loves everyone! He can't find a home because he's quite generic looking. He's not real flashy and he's
not a puppy ("I want a dog to grow up with the kids"). We've had him here for 3 months, but can no
longer justify taking up valuable cage space for a dog that's showing no signs of becoming adopted.
What would you do? There are 10 dogs that came in today. We have two open runs. Who has to die?
Walking through the kennel, having to choose which ones have no more time is the worst part. It
breaks our hearts. If you know of a way to keep Jake alive and still be fair to the other animals,
please tell us. We've grown so attached -- it's our hearts again you know -- they're breaking into a
million pieces this time.

Will you talk to the woman who brings in a blind, 10 year old peek-a-poo with bad skin and says
"Don't kill her! Find her a good home!"?  We can't find homes for the healthy 1 year olds; who's going
to adopt a 10 year old, unhealthy dog? You?  Me, neither. I already have four dogs that were
considered unadoptable. Because this owner won't face reality and allow us to euthanize right away,
the dog has to spend her last 24 hours on earth in a holding cage, wondering what happened. But,
we held her as often as we could and tried to comfort her because you can't. It would break your
heart. "Wait!" you say, "Someone might want her!" Our crystal ball is broken, but we think it's unlikely
we'll find someone that wants an elderly dog that needs a several hundred dollars worth of veterinary
care. If you want to save her please go back to the kennel and pick which young, healthy dog has to
give up its space here.

OK. You can't work at a animal shelter. Not everyone can. Can you help in other ways? Can you buy
us a bag of food when you buy for your own pet? Can you come in and talk to the cats? Walk the
dogs? We are so busy running the place that we often don't have time. When you come back next
week we won't tell you the final disposition of your favorite one if you don't want to know. We are,
after all, a compassionate group and we understand about broken hearts. Could you go to your friend
or neighbor and offer to get their pet spayed/neutered? Tell them about us and how we get our
hearts broken every day. Could you trap one of those stray cats in your neighborhood and get it
vaccinated and neutered? That will be one more free-roaming cat that's out of the reproduction loop.

Maybe you could send a small check to say "Thank you". Anything at all would help.

I know you mean well. I know you mean to say "I couldn't work here because my own emotions get in
the way of doing what has to be done for the animals, thank you for doing it."

©1993 Debbie McKean
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