Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Why So Pale and Wan, Fond Lover?" (New York City)

(Picture Left: Three senior, abandoned Cocker Spaniels presently sitting in one cage (due to shelter crowding) as shelter personnel send out multi, desperate pleas to rescue groups to "Please save the animals!" Unfortunately, most animal rescue groups are now completely saturated.)

I haven't been motivated to write much in this journal lately.

There are a number of reasons for that.

First, I don't believe many people follow the blog as admittedly, there are literally millions of more titillating and absorbing places to go on the Internet.

Secondly, little seems to really change in the areas of animal abandonment, rescue and placements. In writing a (usually) daily blog over a period of several years, I feel almost everything has been covered at some point, without (hopefully) becoming overly repetitive and redundant.

Thirdly, I hate to write a journal that is mostly "negative" (and/or depressive) in its reporting.

It reminds one of an old poem read in Junior High School:

"Why so pale and wan fond lover?
Prithy, why so pale?
If looking well won't win her heart
Will looking ill prevail?"

The simple limerick applies not only to the area of romance, but to life as well.

Especially, when it comes to animals, most people want to hear only the good stuff: "The miracle rescues and life saves!" All the wonderful adoptions to "loving familes." The "looking wells" while we traverse the road to a "no kill" society.

Unfortunately, as lovers and others often hide their deepest, darkest secrets and "ills", from those closest to them, so too, does our culture hide most of its treatment towards animals from the general public.

The simple fact is, however, that were matters really so positive and "well" (just in the area of companion pets) we would not still be killing upwards of five million cats and dogs in shelters every year -- tens of thousands of pets a day.

So, no, all is not (really) well in the land of lollipops, roses, cat trees and dog biscuits.

Quite the contrary.

As we approach and enter the "dog days of summer" the kill lists grow longer in our shelters as fewer and fewer people adopt with the prospect of looming vacation plans.

Meanwhile, the spring and summer litters of kittens (usually from "homes") flood into animal shelters causing the facilities to literally burst at their seams. This forces shelter personnel into making "hard decisions" at the end of every day in terms of which kittens and cats have to die in order to make room for the new batches arriving the following day.

Due to high costs of animal boarding and veterinary treatment (especially in a tanking economy) more dogs find themselves abandoned to shelters in the summer, as well. The drop off in adoptions during this period translates into a much higher percentage of these pet dogs dying -- in many cases, because the former owners simply went on "vacation."

Meanwhile, those few people contacting shelters and rescue to actually "adopt" seem to become ever more picky and demanding in terms of the pet dog they will bring home.

"Can the dog make a good therapy dog?" they ask. "Will s/he be good with my cats, my neighbor's dogs and the grand kids when they come over?" "I am looking for a young, healthy Labrador, but I don't want the dog to jump on my 6-year-old child." (Ah, well, Ma'am, perhaps you need to seek an older, more mellow dog or be willing to hire a trainer?")

Ah, that only we in animal rescue had crystal balls! Ah, that we could only "program" and tailor dogs to people's specific needs, such as one programs a computer or designs gloves to "fit" the hand.

But, unfortunately, we can't.

Sure, we can (and do) medically treat the animals for any conditions they may have. We can assess and interpret the animals general temperaments. We can even send dogs to trainers to try and work out any "kinks" in the behavior or temperament.

But, can we "predict" and/or guarantee how any dog (or cat) will react and behave to every conceivable human situation?

No, we can't.

At some point, people have to be willing to accept responsibility for their own choices, actions, behaviors and lives. -- We can't do it for them.

Tragically, this (more recent) tendency on the part of many people to insist on impossible guarantees and "predictions" in animal adoptions results in shelters and rescues being unable to place many or most of the (imperfect) dogs and cats they have -- A situation that inevitably results in higher and higher shelter "kill lists" -- even as we still continue to promise the "wellness" of a "no-kill" society.

"Why so pale and wan fond lover,
Prithy, why so pale?"

Because, in looking and feigning "wellness" we have in essence, hidden the truth and lied.

And now we -- and the animals must pay for that. -- PCA



Karyn said...

"First, I don't believe many people follow the blog as admittedly, there are literally millions of more titillating and absorbing places to go on the Internet."

Patty, I've said this before, and it's still true. While you don't always have good news to share with us, I'm a regular reading your blog. I've been a dog and cat owner my whole life, but even so, have learned so much by reading your blog. Enough to persuade my husband NOT to breed the border collie he bought before we were married. And enough to persuade my husband that the next dog we get will be from the shelter; not from a breeder. Your blog has ripple effects that you might not even be aware of... it would be a shame if you discontinued it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patty,
I foster dogs for a rescue in California and I love reading your blog. You write well, and I check every day to see if you've posted anything. I would be disappointed if you stopped posting. I thought what you said about the old lady who didn't want a dog with a saggy belly was hilarious.
Alison in California.

Crazy Runner said...

I check your blog every time I'm able to get online. I love it! I followed you here from your AOL blog. You lay it all out and speak the truth and I personally think the negative is good. People need to hear to truth even when and especially when it hurts (and you need to vent).

But I do understand when you don't feel like writing. I've stopped writing as much in my blogs because I don't have much to say right now.

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