My Heart Breaks for the Pet Population

Lisa Sullivan Blackie Lucy July 2013

Image of Blackie and Lucy Sullivan courtesy of Yours Truly. All Rights Reserved.

Was trying to come up with a super fantastic well-worded (keyworded) title for this post but scratched the idea for simple and to the point…because really my heart just breaks for our North Carolina pets.

Notice I didn’t say “Triangle” pets. This is a state-wide issue.

In the last couple of days I’ve seen Facebook posts from two AMAZING local animal organizations either in need of something for their organization (Saving Grace NC) or in response to an animal left somewhere (Johnston County Animal Protection League). Raleigh-area Saving Grace NC posted this –

Saving Grace NC Facebook Post for Supplies Donations July 2013

Image credit: Saving Grace NC Facebook Page

The Johnston County Animal Protections League posted a share that was made on their Facebook Page about a dog that was left at a local Johnston County church. The canine in that image looks so hot and yet so comfortable, happy to be lying on a soft piece of furniture; not the ground. If you read through the comments on that post, you’ll notice that the woman who picked up the dog mentions that another one was left at the same church the next day.

I’m sorry but…

I don’t get it!

In fact, in the Triangle alone the issue is so bad that both WNCN NBC 17 and WTVD ABC 11 reported recently about the overcrowding at the Wake County Animal Shelter. In fact, in the ABC 11 piece, WCAS Director, Jennifer Federico is quoted as saying, “Some people are like OK, I can’t. Take them anyway. I don’t get that and they’re OK with that and leave them,” when pet owners are told there’s a distinct possibility their pet may be put down because the chances of s/he getting adopted are so slim.

Here’s what I picture – little Benji who was once John & Sally Sue Smith’s precious canine for 3 years is all smiles & panting as he goes to the shelter worker when called. As the leash is being placed around his neck, he’s still smiling and panting . I always think they’re thinking either – “YAY! A walk” or food or something. He’s probably thinking either “Thank goodness cuz I gotta go pee” or “Oooh. Oooh. It’s my time. I’m going home with another family!” But he doesn’t “go home”. He’s led down the hall to a procedure room. And I’ll leave it at that. You can continue painting the image in your own mind.

Again, I say –

I don’t get it.

Really? I mean…really?

According to a recent report by the Humane Society, the United States has –

“…come a long way over the last few decades in increasing pet ownership and decreasing euthanasia. From 1970 to 2010, the number of dogs and cats in homes has increased from 67 million to 164 million. The annual number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters has also decreased from 12-20 million to 3.4 million. However, there’s still work to do: An estimated 2.7 million healthy shelter pets are not adopted each year, and only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters and rescues.”

Did you catch that – we’re down pet euthanization from 12-20 million to 3.4 million. 3.4 million. Still can’t wrap my brain around that. While the news is positive, the statistics are still high…TOO high.

For me, there is absolutely no good reason anyone would surrender their pet, especially to a “kill shelter”. I have had dogs and cats my whole life. I’m allergic to their dander. In fact, I’ve been told in previous years from my doctors that I should think about surrendering my animals so that the quality of my physical health can be improved (I also have asthma). And you know what I’ve told them? Uh-uh. No can do. I’ve told them we need to figure something else out. If I had to take medication for the rest of my life to keep my fur-babies, I will. No question. The ONLY exception is if it were a matter of life and death for me or my family and even then, I’d do what I could to find a home for Blackie (our cat of nearly 22 years) or Lucy (our pooch of nearly 7 1/2 years) or at the very least take them to a respectable no-kill organization (and probably watch their progress to adoption too).

My belief is we’ve taken on a life, another living thing. I don’t care if our pets are/were dogs, cats, birds, iguanas, snakes, even a gold fish. You don’t just give it up. You figure it out. You find a way. I realize North Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country but you don’t just give up on your living thing if times are tough. You figure it out. You find a way.

We really need to do something about our pet population. Where’s Bob Barker when you need him?

Of course, that’s only one solution.

I’m honestly not sure what else would work. A more stringent application process? A “plan b” for when “it doesn’t work out” for the adopter (I’m sure some orgs already have this in place or at least I’d like to believe they do.)?

What I don’t agree with is discouraging families from adopting from breeders. While that would help, it’s not right. We can’t tell families how to obtain pets to adopt. We’ve gotta find a way to live in harmony and balance with respectable breeders (there are many out there).

The bottom line is our pet population in the U.S. and more specifically, right here in the Triangle is suffering. Just look at the faces of those waiting to be adopted. Look at the faces and bodies of the ones that have been wondering the streets aimlessly searching for some love and comfort.

Our Lucy was a stray when we got her 6 years ago. How could we say no to this face? Hmm?

Lisa Sullivan Lucy Sullivan July 2013

Our Lucy sitting pretty.

This is a subject that has always been in my heart, but now may become a passion of mine. I may not be Bob Barker, but I will do what I can to ensure the message is out there –

  • Have your pets spayed or neutered
  • Before you consider adopting, please think about it and pray on it before you take that life on and
  • Before you consider surrendering your pet, look at ALL the options available to you and to him or her first, especially seek out “no-kill” shelters or rescue orgs FIRST…please.

Anyone want to join me on this effort?



Comments are moderated. I approve only intelligent comments that provide a solution to the issue I raise. Blatant negative commentary or any comments that are derogatory to the author or the organizations mentioned within will NOT be approved. If you feel the desire to be nasty and negative, you may take that to your own blog. Thank you!


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