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Animal welfare QnA and rescue thread.

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Hello lovely people of DC!


I work at my local humane society and have for over 2 years. Most of you are probably pet owners or animal lovers, and I'd like to share some if my stories with you if I can. Do you have any questions about the goings on in a shelter? Feel free to ask! Also if you have an animal rescue or adoption story feel free to share, who doesn't love a happy story?


First I'd like to give a little background and some extra info. I've been an adoption counselor and am currently animal care technion who works closely with the small animals and who councils new pet parents on these small animals such as rabbits. My shelter is rather large and is ine that operates in a tristate area. We have 3 rooms of dogs up for adoption, 2 rooms of dog holding for the new/not tested dogs, 3 cat areas including an open cageless cat lounge where fixed males, fixed females and unswayed females can hang out as long as they don't spend all their time hiding and are up to date on shots. We also have 2 cat holding areas and a nursery as well as plenty of amazing foster homes. We also have a rabbit/small animal area and rabbits are out third most populated animal. We are a very fortunate shelter in the fact we have a clinic attached to our building that can get all of out animals fixed, microchiped and vaccinated before they go home. We also have 2 vets in staff and our own triage department.


Last year we sheltered 2,903 animals which included  948 dogs, 1,707 cats, 118 rabbits, 3 pot bellied pigs and 127 other such as Guinea pigs, snakes, finches, hermit crabs, budgies, hamsters, gerbils, rats, a duck, some chickens and a got. We had a 89% save rate last year and thanks to adopters fosters and help from other shelters we didn't need to euthanize a single animal for space! 


This brings us to the euthanasia issue and the kill vs no kill stigma. 'Are you no kill' is a question we here so often and the answer is no, and really no shelter out there is a true no kill. We euthanize animals for things like health and temperament. We've lost animals we all love for things that just come up. In old dogs we've seen failing kidney and heat infections, in cats liver failure, feline leukemia, in rabbits seizures and loss of movement and bodily control just to name a few. Then there are surrenders we see that are too far gone to save, very advanced parvo, which we can and have treated before but sometimes it's just too late, or those poor sweet stay animals that have gotten hit by cars and by the time they get to us their too far gone. There is also a thing called 'kennel crazy' these animals we try to put a lot if focus on but sometimes when the anxiety medicine,  and extra time out aren't enough its time for a hard decision. Dogs more often than cats can actually loose their mind in a shelter and will do nothing all day but bounce off their walls and circle. Many times we get lucky and extra promotions get that dog home but sometimes the dogs we love the most cause they've been there so long just aren't themselves any more and it's cruel to keep them in a preprtual state if stress. That is another reason we let go of the unadoptable dogs, better to let them go peacefully than to let them go insane.


So that's the health side of it, now the side that's a much harder issue: temperament. The last thing we want to do is euthanize a happy healthy animal but bad animals do exist. Sadly they are usually the high energy high anxiety breeds but when they are pure breed, or at least look enough like it we can transfer an animal to a rescue who is far more able to work with those animals. We do this a lot with shepherds, Huskies, Aussies and other working breeds who truly need a job to do to be happy. The dogs that don't look it are less lucky but we will not release a bad animal to the public. These animals can bite unprovoked or have a long bite recorded with animal control. These are only our most extreme cases, if an animal resources guards or food guards we often times still give them a chance at adoption and let the adopters know the issues. More often than not these animals cannot go home with small kids since they can decide they want whatever the kid has or a spot on the couch and no one wants to put children in danger.


Those are the basic reasons so let's talk about no kill shelters. We have 3 in our area and all of them are lovely places that help animals but they often only take in the animals they know will get adopted. Those extra cute highly desirable dogs everyone wants and whi will find a home right away. And should they take in an animal that ends up with an issue they will transfer them to another shelter to be euthanized there. It's sad but it happens. No one wants to call themselves a kill shelter, it's a very strong very ugly very negative word. But humane euthanasia is better than a life of insanity. If only the label could drop more people would be less scared of their local Animal Control, the 'pound' who typically had to say yes to any animal that walks into the door, stray or surrender, when they have limited funding and space given to them by the state.



So that's the biggest question in a nutshell, please feel free to ask any and all questions you may have or share your stories of rescue or adoption! 


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