Sunday, August 5, 2007

Dead Dogs

Recently, there has been a situation at the Animal Shelter. I don't know the exact details but it involves dogs picked up from an allegedly neglectful home. As it turned out, some of these dogs had Parvo, an extremely serious and deadly disease. As a consequence of the Parvo, which I understand is quite contagious, all the dogs in residence were ultimately put down and the Shelter is in a state of quarantine.

I do the books for the Animal Shelter and am there quite frequently picking up their money and bills to be paid. Virginia Reahard, our long time Animal Control Officer, retired in May and Sherry Cox was promoted to the top spot. The last time I talked to Sherry, the situation at the Shelter had only recently occurred. She'd been in contact with veterinarians, the health department, other shelters and her board members. Not all the information she'd received in terms of symptoms, contagiousness and length of quarantine matched so it left Sherry in a quandary about how to handle this crisis.

Ultimately, she decided that, based on the varying information she'd been given, all the dogs in the Shelter should be euthanized and the kennels completely cleaned and disinfected and given some time before taking a chance on bringing in any more dogs. I completely agree with this assessment on her part. Whether or not that was the "right" choice, I can tell you that Sherry is a very caring and responsible person. If she decided to put down the dogs, it was because she believed it was the best option for the sake of the Shelter.

Some people disagreed with this decision. So be it. That is always going to happen.

The broader point I would like to make is that most folks don't have the faintest idea how many animals in Wabash County are euthanized on an annual basis. They may get personally caught up in the fates of these particular, possibly sick, dogs because they read about them in the newspaper. The situation is called to their attention. But, dogs in Wabash County are put down every single week. Hundreds of dogs. Perfectly healthy dogs. All breeds of dogs (although thank God for the rescue groups that now come to save the breeds they are involved with). Big dogs, little dogs and medium-sized dogs. Adult dogs and adorable puppies.

If people want to care about dogs, then please care about them every week of the year, not just in this particular instance. If people want to care about dogs, then please have your dogs spayed or neutered so the Shelter isn't flooded with puppies that no one wants. If people want to care about dogs, then don't buy puppies and then get angry with them when they aren't instantly house-broken or bored with them when they grow out of the cuddly stage.

In 2006, 1551 animals were picked up by the Wabash County Animal Shelter. Of that 1551, 1211 were euthanized. So, please, if you want to care about dogs (and cats), don't just care about the 20 or so that were euthanized last week, care about the other 1211.