By Michelle LaFleche
By now, I’m sure most of the Massachusetts’s population has heard about Cujo, the little Chihuahua who was repeatedly thrown to the ground by his owner during a domestic dispute the owner was having with her boyfriend. Officer Aaron Suss arrested Cujo’s owner for animal cruelty among other charges. News stations from all over as well as newspapers reported the story.
As a result, I have been inundated with e-mails and phone calls from people all over, inquiring about Cujo’s well being. In addition, most of these people want to know how to adopt Cujo.
While I am happy that so many people out there care about Cujo and express a desire to adopt him, I am also saddened. Why? Well, first of all, it appears anytime an animal cruelty case is showcased on TV and/or in the newspapers, there is an over abundance of people who want to adopt or donate money for expenses associated with the care of the victim animal. I am saddened because every animal in every shelter that exists has animals that have been victims of cruelty. Their stories are similar to Cujo’s – sometimes much worse. Just because their own tragic stories have not been made public through the media does not make them any less worthy of adoption or support.
Abandonment, neglect, abuse – every animal in every shelter is there for these reasons. It is for these reasons that if people want to get involved and rescue a victim animal, they need to visit a shelter to adopt, not wait for a victim to become a celebrity due to the media.
Since we have moved into our new shelter in April of this year, we have housed an average of 16 dogs and 25 cats. At the present time, we currently have 13 dogs at the shelter, one in Boston receiving specialized vet care for a chronic skin condition (Kierra) and another one (Raven) is being housed by a Webster police officer (hopefully, with intent to adopt!).
We did have 16 dogs at the shelter; however, Lt. Borgal of the Animal Rescue League of Boston took three dogs who were victims of neglect to Boston late last week for further evaluation. If Kierra and Raven were at the shelter, there would have been 18 dogs.
Kierra is also a victim of abuse and neglect. She was found wandering the streets with a horrid skin condition. Her owner called three days after we found her but made no effort to claim her. Apparently, Kierra has been suffering from the skin condition for a very long time with no treatment. What complicates matters is that Kierra is an elderly girl, but full of spunk and life despite the suffering she endures from the constant itching and pain caused by her illness. Everyone who has met Kierra instantly loves her, including Yolanda from PT Pet Supplies, who has been one of Kierra’s biggest supporters. Not only has Yolanda personally donated items from her store in an attempt to help Kierra, but she has collected funds to help defray the expenses associated with Kierra’s treatment in Boston with a specialized vet. Everyone is praying and hoping Kierra’s current treatment will cure her illness and allow her to spend the rest of her remaining life free of discomfort and pain.
We have averaged about 25-30 cats at the shelter since moving in. Currently, we have 25 cats and kittens. Most of our cats are victims of abandonment and neglect. Many are abandoned and because of irresponsible owners, are not neutered or spayed. As a result, these cats reproduce and raise feral kittens which, unless there is an intervention, go on to introduce even more feral kittens into the world.
Some people think that we run a shelter for pets that are no longer wanted. We are a town shelter with a limited budget established by the Town of Webster. Our shelter is there to provide temporary housing for lost animals; abandoned/abused/neglected animals; and unclaimed animals that are put up for adoption. Our shelter is not a surrender shelter for pets people no longer want or can keep. We do, however, provide assistance and the resources to these people so a proper surrender shelter or new home can be found.
Although we are proud to be a no-kill shelter, we do not have the extensive resources necessary to be a surrender shelter despite the generous support of the community.
It always amazes me how people who no longer want or can keep their pets, feel everyone else is responsible for taking the pet off their hands. I realize that financially times are tough. I have not been immune to the effects of the economy. However, despite the financial strain, I have not once ever thought to rehome my pets. I have made personal sacrifices that have allowed me to continue with the care my pets require and deserve. People who have children do not “rehome” their children when times are financially tough. They find a way to make do and survive. If absolutely necessary to rehome a pet, a responsible owner never would dream of abandoning their pet or fabricating a story that the animal is a stray in order to take the easy way out and abandon the pet to the care of animal control Although we care and love the animals in our shelter, I would never dream of abandoning any of my dogs or cats to a town shelter. I would not be able to sleep thinking of my pet spending the night in a shelter away from constant human contact, locked in a kennel or cage, not knowing whether or not my pet may be euthanized or if it would be adopted out or moved on to another shelter. Unfortunately, there are two many people out there who care more about themselves and their own needs than those of their pets. When pets become a burden to these people, they think nothing of throwing them out like garbage into the street or to anyone who will relieve them of their “burden.”
Surrender type shelters or rescue groups are usually no-profit entities that are established to provide the proper housing and have the financial resources to take in pets that people no longer want or can keep. Yes, these shelters do become overwhelmed with animals. Many of the shelters can only take in one pit bull at a time, making it difficult to surrender this breed of dog. Pit bull rescues are always at capacity. This is directly due to the fact that irresponsible people are still breeding pits. These irresponsible people are the reason thousands of pits die every second of every day in shelters all over the United States. They are the reason our shelter is full of unwanted yet beautiful pit bulls who just want to be loved and have a forever home. There is no valid reason to breed pit bulls other than (blood) money. Second Chance in North Brookfield offers spaying and neutering of pit bulls for only $50.00. In August, they will be offering a special that reduces the current price to only $20.00 to spay or neuter any pit bull. There is no excuse not to get a pit bull fixed at these prices. If you have friends with pit bulls, please spread the word. Friends don’t let friends breed pit bulls.
Due to the fact that we have so many animals at our shelter, we are in constant need of dog food, cat food, litter, chew toys and treats, bleach, paper towels, monetary donations to offset vet bills and most important, people to adopt our pets!
Till next time, respect and appreciate each other as well as the animals we have been blessed with – especially our pets. Please remember, you can divorce your husband, but children and pets should never be “divorced” and should be in your life till death due part.
Michelle LaFleche is the animal control officer in Webster.
- Saturday, 04 August 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Four-legged Friends