Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Economic Recession and Animals

It is easy to forget that the current economic recession is taking a toll on animals. There have been stories too numerous to count on Google News and other news outlets about animals suffering from the effects of hard times. The problem seems to be especially bad in Atlanta and the surrounding counties, where animal shelters are euthanizing dogs and cats in record numbers. (Source, Source) According to the article linked here from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the counties around the Metro Atlanta region put down 30,000 cats and dogs (that includes the counties of DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett).

Animals are often the forgotten victims of hard times. It is important to remember that good people are reaching deep into their pockets and trying to help in whatever way they can. The Atlanta Journal Constitution story also quotes Gwinnett police Lt. Mary Lou Respess, who's the director of the county's animal shelter, as saying: "We are trying to help citizens who are having financial trouble by giving them food donated to the shelter by local merchants. The shelter also helps sponsor events at local pet supply stories to promote adoptions and is planning a free spay and neuter clinic this spring for pit and pit mixes, the most common breed at the shelter."

Atlanta is but one example. This is a problem across North America, not just in the United States, but Canada as well. One of the most powerful accounts of animal euthanasia can be found on the website Animal Advocating.com. It's called "Confessions of a Euthanasia Technician." Everybody across North America should be forced to read this article so they know what happens to so many pets who end up animal shelters and so they develop a deeper respect for the brave, loving and compassionate souls who euthanize animals on a regular basis. I can think of no better way to wrap up this Blog Entry than to include a lengthy quote from the piece:

I think about a sweet little black lab who stayed up for adoption for 2 months before we finally had to put her down because we didn’t have the room, and her time was up. She looked at me with her big, brown, trusting eyes, gave me her paw when I asked for it, and licked my face while I injected her with euthanasia solution. I think about the man who brought us ten, 8-week old puppies, to be put to sleep because he was going on vacation and didn’t want to deal with them. I think about the way that they so unsuspectingly wiggled around and played with each other as I picked them up, one by one, and took their lives. I think about the countless, feral, mother cats, who watched in frozen horror as we took their kittens away from them, killed them, and then killed Mom. I think about that time that the Humane Society brought us 72, healthy and adoptable cats, to be killed all in one afternoon.

I wish I could I say that these were all exceptional cases; that this wasn’t what I dealt with everyday for 3 years. But the truth is; this is what every euthanasia technician faces every day in their job. And we do it because we care. Because we know that it has to be done by someone, and that at least when we do it, that animal will get that last little pat on the head, or scratch behind the ears. And every time a member of the public calls us an “animal killer” because they don’t understand the reality of what a euthanasia technician faces, it stings.

There is a well-known story about a euthanasia technician, who had a dream one night that she died, and went to heaven, and all of the animals that she had ever euthanized were behind the pearly gates, and they wouldn’t let her in. I would like to think that the animals would better understand why we do it than the general public seems to understand. I would like to think that they would appreciate the men and women that have stepped into that role so that they could ensure that this necessary evil was being done in the best way possible. Then again, maybe I am being idealistic, and it is just my way of keeping that armor whole, and free of cracks. I guess I will never know.

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