Pound Pooch

diary of a shelter worker.



A few times a week, someone comes in and says to me something to the effect of: "I don't know how you could do this job. Don't you want to take all of the animals home with you?" Or, "Doesn't this place break your heart?" It doesn't break my heart to work in a shelter. It's trite, but I feel like part of the solution. I can't imagine knowing what I know- about pet overpopulation, about dog and cat behavior, etc- and sitting idly while animals died.

It's much harder for me to deal with some of the angry, sad, depressed, belligerent, resistent, people that we get into the shelter.

We handle animals that have been brought into the shelter when their owners are taken to jail. Sometimes these men and women are very frustrated with the nominal fees that they have to pay to reclaim their animals. Sometimes they are still hung over, or they unable to reclaim their animals and forced to surrender them. Sometimes they are unable to pay the fees at all, and furious with us, the middle men. Sometimes these people are just not very nice people, and it is all I can do to handle them with composure. I am much better at handling aggressive dogs. We handle animals that have been brought into the shelter when their owners are in the hospital. These people are sometimes hard to reach, or hard to understand, as they can be incoherent, or not fully functioning. Sometimes we have to deal with very sad family members. This can be extremely depressing.

On the other hand, some people reclaim their animals with no fuss at all- they are so glad to be out of jail or out of the hospital and reuinited with their animal-family that they are super compliant and eager to do right by the system.

Today an officer brought in an owner surrender that I recognized from talking to the woman who had reclaimed the dog a couple of months ago. The officer had gone out with the police to the woman's house. She was fleeing the county, wiht a restraining order on her now-ex-husband, due to domestic violence. She is disabled and in no shape to bring the dog with her.

I can handle the stress of an animal shelter. I'm not sure I can handle all these people.


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