It happens everyday in animal shelters all across America, the same scenario of life and death is repeated and played out endlessly. Loving trusting and scared animals are brought to shelters and surrendered by their owners. These animals have no fault in what is happening to them and they have no control over their fate. How they came into this world doesn't really matter at this point, all that matters now is if they will ever be leaving the shelter or if their lives will soon be ended for want of love.
These animals futures are at best fifty fifty once they are surrendered at a shelter. Will they live or will they die is determined by factors that they do not control. It's the supposedly responsible humans who will decide their fate. Half of the decision over their life or death has already been made. Once they were brought in and left behind at the shelter, the clock began ticking. Abandoned by the only family they have ever known. Now they sit waiting. In an alien environment, a place that is scary and wreaks of smells that denote fear and anxiety in the sensitive noses of these pitiful souls.
They may not be able to speak our language or communicate their life's experiences or suffering and abuse, but none the less they know where they are and they are scared. They should be. They sense that this is not a good place and they quickly learn that their lives are reduced to no more than a daily routine of fear, feeding and an occasional look or word of interest by passersby at their cage or kennel. They are prisoners to a fate that they do not control.
A day spent at an animal control facility in America is an education in the rawness of abandoned trust. It is a peek at the darker underbelly of a society that as a rule does not value any life beyond their own. I have spent a lot of days watching the drama of life and death for shelter animals unfold. I have looked into countless pleading eyes and saw little shivering souls being led away to cold and foreboding cages and kennels.
I have listened to the plaintive whines and whimpers as they watched 'their person' turn and walk out the door and abandon them. That is one of the hardest parts of being at a shelter regularly, the watching the pain in their eyes as they seemingly plead why?. Watching these little souls who have feelings too and all the while knowing that they are dependent on others to give them a voice and a future or else they will have neither. They don't understand why they are being left behind and they do not know who to trust now that they have been abandoned. Many just want to cry as they are led away to an unsettled fate and they do.
Some of the many excuses I have heard as animals were being surrendered.
"I am too tired to keep him anymore, I don't have enough time." "He keeps getting out" "He chews up things." "He brings fleas in the house." "He barks a lot." "My kids don't like him anymore." "I moved where I can't have animals." "She keeps going into heat and having babies." I can't afford to feed him anymore." "I can't afford to get his shots." "I can't afford to get him fixed." "My new boyfriend/girlfriend is allergic."
As they sign away the lives of their animals, they are told: "You do know that if not adopted, this animal will be euthanized?"
"Yeah, but I just don't have time to worry about that right now. "By the way? Can I get the collar back? I may want to get another dog later on."
I have heard every one of these excuses and commentaries a dozen times over while watching animals being turned in at the shelter. The bottom line, many people (too many people) are no more responsible with their animals than they are with their own lives. They want someone else to fix it for them. They want someone else to take responsibility for their own failure to do the right thing. They want someone else to pay for everything and bear the cost of difficulties. After all, it's not their fault now is it?
In the end, those of us in society who pay the taxes are the ones left burdened with the animals who are disposed of at shelters across America daily as if they were garbage. As taxpayers, we pay for the shelters and we pay every time one of these unfortunate souls arrives and is abandoned. But it is they (the animals) who pay the real price. It is they who pay the hard price. It is they who pay with their lives for the failures of those who once owned them and supposedly loved them.
No....we can't save them all, but we can save many of them.
But we can only save them if we can get people to care by being aware of their plight. We have to be the voice of those who have no voice. We have to plead their case and make others aware of their plight. If not us who? If not you? Who? What does it cost to share the needs of these fur kids? What does it really cost?
I can answer that for you very simply. It costs you nothing, but it may very well cost these animals their lives. Others have already let them down and failed them. They have no means to ask us for help aside from their eyes. So please take the time to look at them. I mean really look at them. Look into their eyes and into their tiny souls and see the spark of life that is flickering for want of someone to love and nurture them.
A lot of people have already shown that they do not care about these animals. It is time for the rest of us who do to stand up and do what we can to help them. Put aside the pettiness and the bickering and the finger pointing over failed responsibility and join in with others in your community who are trying to make a difference in the lives of the unwanted.
The animals are counting on you. You are their only chance. As a friend of mine once noted. "I always thought someone should be doing something about that... Then I realized, I am that someone." ~Jason~
Abraham Lincoln once said: "no man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child." Do we as human beings stand any less tall when we stand up and speak for animals who cannot speak for themselves....Please help us help them. Your effort can be the difference between life and death for one of these animals. Time is short. Act today. Visit the animal shelter and make a difference in the life of an animal deserving a second chance at life.