Waiting on your owner: euthanizing dogs in shelters
‘Imagine the following: you are born onto this earth as a dog, and the world is at your feet. After 3 to 4 weeks, you are taken away from your mother and father. You grow up with an elderly man. This man passes away and you are left on your own for months, next to your deceased owner. Then you are being carried to a cold van with a leash around your neck. You shake, shiver, and whimper, you are angry. You are very scared when two people form the animal ambulance, dressed in neon yellow & green vests, push you in a cold cage. In response, you bite one of them and end up in the pound. There, hundreds of dogs are in a state of dismay and they all bark when you enter. You are very sad, aggressive and anxious… four people of the animal ambulance are mumbling about euthanasia, or in other words putting you down. You are a dog, and are unaware of all this. You are separated in a concrete room, all by yourself. You bark and lash out, and there you are until….? An eternity, forever, or will you not even make it till tomorrow?’
We wondered what our followers think about euthanizing animals in shelters, when it has proven difficult to find a new owner. That is why we posed the following statement: Should animals who stay in a shelter for more than one year be euthanized, because otherwise they might live out the rest of their life in a small cage, relatively unloved without any affection? Or should we not be allowed to deprive them of the opportunity to be placed in their permanent homes? We were very pleased with the many responses that we got from you! In this blog, we are happy to share these responses.
Many of our followers think that shelter animals should not be euthanized. Virginie Delatter says: ‘Never give up… there is an owner out there for any type of animal. If only people would consider the consequences of having an animal, instead of buying one impulsively, many more animals would have a permanent home and less would end up in the pound. An animal should be with you for its lifetime, but many people do not realize how much time and money an animal costs..’ Iris Traarbach agrees with this: ‘Never kill. However, more effort should be placed on finding a new owner. This is a horrible statement anyway… Think about what you want if you, still in good health, would be put in an elderly home. Should you also be killed?’ Rita Van Driessche writes that there is an owner for every dog or cat and that healthy animals should never be killed. Ingrid Stevens, Helna Tamboer and Ellen van der Linden all chime in with: ‘Never give up!’
Rachel Vroom shared her owned experience with us: ‘I already rescued a dog from the shelter twice, just before they were going to be put down. The dog that is currently living with us was only six months old when that happened!! He is seven now and quite possibly the cutest dog in the world. More attention to the conditions of shelter animals should be given in mainstream media: Adopt! Don’t shop.’ Marian Giesbers illustrates that two of her dogs have been in shelters for longer than one year: ‘Both of my dogs have been in shelters for six years. My other dog is almost two years. Every day, I let all three of them run wild in our dog park/area. They are just wonderful, sweet and social dogs, who have fun and enjoy everything.’
Marianne Smeding believes that we ‘should never give up and never kill.’ She proposes a solution to the problem: ‘For the animals that are ‘left behind’ we should build sanctuaries. We should move past this narrow-minded concept of what a shelter should look like. There are several examples from shelters abroad in which hundreds of dogs live together with some assistance and are being taken care of, while they spend the rest of their days in relative freedom with space to roam and to interact with other dogs. Even dogs with special needs have a place there to enjoy life.’ Patricia Braat-Stramsak also thinks that euthanasia is not an option: ‘NEEEEEEEEEVER euthanize, even if it might seem (due to behavioural or other issues) that the life of such an animal is hopeless, there is ALWAYS a suitable solution. Just consider Foundation ‘Dier en Project’ in Nispen!! It is possible!!!!’ Lia Knibbe, who walks rescue dogs several times per week, says: ‘there is always a chance that an owner will be found. Until that moment, we aim to make life as comfortable as possible for the dogs in the shelter.’ Sasja Shonewille also has a solution: ‘Start a shelter for these animals, in which they are being taken care of in a homey situation with lots of love and affection, and in which they can live freely?? Get rid of those cages? Some rules just don’t make any sense. It IS possible. Check out www.dierenthuis.nl and become a donor?’ Elly Slijp has another solution: ‘Our shelter only keeps the animals for a couple of months before they are traded with other animals from another shelters’. She also points our direction to a foundation that connects animal owners to senior people, who would like to spend time with pets. To give an example, she shared a picture of a greyhound, who found a new home via the shelter that she mentioned, for which Elly is very grateful.