Shortly before Thanksgiving, I was called about a pending execution. This did not make me happy, and I realize that such events are becoming more frequent due to hard economic times.
The call was from an area animal shelter about a Yorkshire Terrier estimated to be about three years old who ended up as an unwanted pet, or perhaps just another mouth to feed in an already strained budget someone had.
After a ninety minute journey to the shelter, I was introduced to "Johnny"--the name given to him by shelter employees. Someone had obviously loved Johnny because he is so friendly, but no one came to claim him or called out of concern. After attempting to reunite him with his "family," the clock was ticking. "Johnny" was going to the gas chamber in twenty-four hours.
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for some hard-luck stories, especially when it comes to animals. So the animal control people (some knew me from a prior adoption there) knew who would be interested. I would.
As I drove home with "Johnny", I couldn't help but think of all those animals who won't be so lucky. Having worked in animal rescue efforts in the past, I also know how emotionally draining it can be. My worst experience was taking part in a puppymill "clearance" due to orders from the local law enforcement agency near the puppymill. Trust me, if you've ever seen a puppymill situation, you've had a glimpse of Hell.
For my own well-being, I had to get out of animal rescue work, and I've admired those who could hang in there (and not all of them are like the case you heard about involving Ellen DeGeneres.) I know some of you are reading this and thinking "it's only an animal." But there are just as many who think differently.
Like most who have worked in animal rescue organization efforts, I can tell you what to do. With Christmas rapidly approaching, some are looking to get a puppy or kitten for a Christmas gift. Think long and hard about this idea. Make sure your adopted pet didn't come from a puppymill (or the equivalent for kittens.) Spay or neuter your animal unless you plan to breed them...and keep the breeding to a minimum. If you see dollar signs related to "future income" when you look at a cat or dog after you've purchased it, remember that not everyone can afford to pay $100+ for a pet these days, not to mention what comes with taking care of it.
I can also tell you from personal experience that for every purebred animal, there are several mixed breed dogs or cats who need love, too, and can be found at your local animal shelter (purebred animals can be found at shelters, too, if rescue groups have not intervened.) But their time is limited.
"Johnny" got his reprieve just in time.