Shelter Sunday: Steph’s Story

Dogs ShelterIf you’re a regular reader, you know my Shelter Sunday feature usually focuses on one particular dog at one particular shelter. However, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today, I came across this story, and it really touched me so I wanted to share it with all of you. The author is Steph King Phenix, who works with Last Hope K-9 Rescue in Boston. She really hits the nail directly on the head.

I usually like to focus on happy rescue stories, but given recent discussion around rescue dogs on my Facebook I feel like I need to go in another direction this time. Thirty one people from our rescue just got back from a 5 day trip to Arkansas. We paid our own airfare and expenses and stayed in the homes of AR fosters and volunteers. Thank you to my friends and family who donated for our projects, without you we would not have been able to do as much work as we did.

I feel like people up north don’t know what going to southern shelters is like. Not every shelter has people working there that care about the animals. Some do, but many shelter employees don’t really care if the dogs are standing in poop, if they are so scared they are chewing the ends of their tails off, if they are so desperate for love that they climb on the chain link of their cages until their nails bleed. Dogs live in their own shit, it gets in their food and water bowls. They have no beds. Dogs with hair are matted and can’t see through the overgrown hair on their eyes. Volunteers come in to the shelters to do the cleaning and grooming that the staff won’t. At one of our partner shelters, the kennels were so old and broken a volunteer stopped by every morning and evening to make sure all the dogs were still there. The town and ACO did nothing about this, our rescue raised money and replaced them ourselves (the ACO didn’t even come by while we were there). The food at this shelter was stored in a room covered with mouse poop, we cleaned the entire room and chased the mice away. At another shelter a volunteer told us how it feels like she can never win, as soon as she takes a dog out, two show up in its place. The work never, ever ends. Add to all that, I met and loved dozens of dogs that are going to be put to death. Many of them may already have. And they are perfectly normal, loving and healthy dogs who just needed someone to save them.

So, I’m sorry if I’m not excited that you bought a dog. I’m sorry if I don’t understand your reasoning for not adopting. I really and truly try not to argue with people and ruin friendships over it. You have to understand that the faces of these dogs are burned into my brain. That I see them all the time and they haunt me. The dogs who we couldn’t save, the dogs who never made it out. The dogs who we watched search for the family that had just left them behind, confused as to what is happening. Hopefully, I will inspire at least a few people to adopt.

Steph – Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully, you will make a difference in the lives of all of those who see your post and the dogs they bring into their families.

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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