Tails: What Shelter Animals Want You to Know

Yesterday was National Rescue Dog Day and the day before, we put down our rescued cat. We had 7 animals. Now, we have four dogs and just two cats. Some might have thought that when you have that many, losing one isn’t that big of a deal, but it is. My heart broke and continues to break each time I go to reach for Sampson and he isn’t there.

As tears were streaming down my face and I was posting about Sampson’s rescue, I started to think about how easy it would have been for the county shelter to euthanize Sampson at the time (13 years ago). His eye was a real problem and the shelter vet didn’t give a crap about him. There were literally hundreds of other cats going in and out of the shelter – he was just a number – just another cage to clean and mouth to feed. And in an open access, municipal shelter, cage space matters more than most else.

Sampson lived because I took him out of there. He became an important member of a family – loved for over 13 years – simply because he had the chance.

I am certain that many other cats were euthanized then due to no fault of their own. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t take them all home. I am also certain that all of those cats could have become loved family members. I am certain that instead of being killed in a county shelter and stuffed in a freezer, years later they would have been euthanized in a private vet office, being held by “their person who had tears coming down her face” and surrounded by love.

At the garage sale last weekend, so many people commented on our 4 dogs. They would say, “Oh my gosh they are all just adorable,” or “Oh my gosh they are so sweet,” or “Oh my gosh they are such good dogs.”

Immediately, one of us would say, “They are all rescued.”

I say those words every chance I get because they matter. Often people think dogs like ours are bought. They think you can’t rescue little, fluffy dogs. More often, people are in awe at how much our dogs love us. Their eyes widen when they see me walk out of a room with all 4 dogs following me everywhere I go.

They can’t believe the bond we share or the love we have for one another.

I always say, “When you save a dog’s life, he knows.”

Overall, I think more people are catching on to rescue and adoption. But, with a million animals still being killed for space each year, we need even more people to adopt.

Each of our animals came to us as rescues and each came with issues. Some of them took a lot of time and patience, but so would a purebred puppy.

On Sunday, at the ER vet, I cried for Sampson. He was a BIG tiger cat with the biggest heart. For over 13 years he was a part of our family. He was lucky to have the bad eye in the shelter and for me to whisk him away to a real vet. I was lucky to get him.

Any single animal sitting in a shelter or rescue right now could be your Sampson. They are all so deserving. They each just want a chance outside of the shelter environment to show you who they are.

Sure, as a whole, the shelter seems full of rejects and misfits, but when you take each one out and get to know her, you will see so much more. Their individual hearts and souls… the way they snuggle up to you, the way they find sticks, the way they wag their tail when you call them, the way they kiss you when you have a bad day, the way they watch football on the couch every Sunday, they way they love french fries but not carrots.

We have 6 animals now and each one of them could have easily died without ever having a chance to be a pet. No one who loved animals would have ever even known they existed. Each one of them has made someone smile, made someone feel better, made me feel loved.

There are MILLIONS of dogs and cats waiting for their chance to love, to cuddle, to play, to live right now in shelters and rescues across America.

I don’t take the easy ones and yet, everyone who comes to my house thinks I have the cutest, kindest animals in the world. All it takes is rescuing the one who speaks to your heart and unconditional love.

Take a chance today and find your rescue. And then share him or her with the world to show that adoption is the truest form of love.

3 thoughts on “Tails: What Shelter Animals Want You to Know

  1. Merry

    Becky, what are the characteristics of a good animal shelter?

    Are there any national standards for shelters or rescues?

    Thanks for the blog. I am sure I will learn a lot, by the way our sons and their families have three rescue dogs. I will share photos sometime.

    1. sheltertails5839 Post author

      That is a great question – one I am sure many advocates might have varying answers to. There are a lot of considerations when talking about this. A municipal open access shelter HAS to take in ALL animals – where as a privately funded shelter can pick and choose what animals they allow in – making it easier to be “no kill.” Overall, after working in a municipal shelter and volunteering with private rescues – I think one common denominator is critical: ALL the people working should LOVE animals. There are so many other variables. I think good organizations see each animal and each adopter individually. They don’t have all encompassing rules – like “no fences” or “no children under 8.” I think they also recognize that we are in crisis. Over a million animals are being KILLED each year simply for space… which means, while we want to find loving, forever homes – we can’t be judgemental. Some adopters have to work 8-12 hours a day – doesn’t mean that they don’t love their pets or won’t find ways to keep them happy. People need jobs to provide for animal care. We can’t rule out homeless people. It is a known fact that they put their pet’s needs above their own. We have to be creative and we should want to preserve the human-animal bond not destroy it – meaning we should help people get resources to keep them and their pets together. Good shelters and rescues see the GOOD in people first and foremost. They understand – they don’t judge. I also think one last critical component is that good shelters and rescues KNOW when it is best to euthanize for illness or behavior. Keeping a dog in a crate 24/7 because there are no homes that can meet its needs is cruel and that needs to be recognized at times. Sad and tragic as it is. Animal advocates – feel free to chime in.

  2. steve

    Beautiful and so true. Thank you for again, posting. I’ve missed it, and gain so much insight by the knowledge, background, experiences that you share.

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