How can they do it???
When you say to an animal shelter employee "I could never do your job, it would break my heart. I love animals too much" or words to that effect, it sounds like you are saying: a.That we don't also love the animals, even though we've taken minimum wage (or no wage) jobs in order to work with homeless animals. For many of us, it is our life's work.
b.That we, somehow, don't get our hearts broken.
c.That in order to do this job one has to be either cold hearted or an animal hater. Your declaration leaves us with some questions.
If you can't do this job, who will? Someone must. When we've euthanized the 500th kitten for the month, because there are no homes available, will you take the 501st? You already have enough pets? We understand, we do too. Our cages are over capacity, our foster homes are all full. Do you have a solution? If so, please tell us, we hate this part of the job. Right now, at this moment, there is a dog or a cat in a shelter employee's arms and there is no where on earth for this creature to go. There is no cage space, no foster home, limited admission shelters are full. No forever home. No-where. It is a heartbreaking feeling.
There is a really nice yellow lab mix named Happy. He's 3 years old, healthy, housebroken, loves kids. He loves everyone! But, he can't find a home because he's quite generic looking, not really flashy and he's not an eight week old puppy. ("I want a dog to grow up with the kids.") We've had him here for 3 weeks, but can no longer justify taking up valuable cage space for a dog that's showing no signs of becoming adopted. What would you do? There are 10 dogs that came in today. We have two open runs. Who has to die? Walking through the kennel, having to choose which ones have no more time is the worst part. It breaks our hearts. If you know of a way to keep Happy alive and still be fair to the other animals, please tell us. We've grown so attached. It's our hearts again you know. Hearts are breaking into a million pieces this time.
Will you talk to the woman who brings in a blind, 10 yr old Pek-a-poo with bad skin and says "Don't kill her! Find her a good home!" We can't find homes for the healthy one year olds, who is going to adopt a 10 year old, unhealthy dog? You? No, not me either. I already have four dogs that were considered unadoptable. Because we can't get this owner to face reality and allow us to euthanize right away, the dog has to spend her last 24 hours on earth in a holding cage, wondering what happened. But, we held her as often as we could and tried to comfort her! It's quite unlikely that there is someone that wants an elderly dog that needs a few hundred dollars worth of veterinary care, but maybe you're right. Our crystal ball is broken, but if you think she can find a home and you want to save her, please go back to the kennel and pick which young healthy dog has to give up its space here. Ok.
You can't work at an animal shelter. Not everyone can. Can you help in other ways? Can you buy us a bag of food when you buy for your own pet? Can you come in and talk to the cats? Walk the dogs? We are so busy running the place that we often don't have time. When you come back next week we won't tell you the final destination of your favorite one if you don't want to know. We are a compassionate group and we understand about broken hearts. Could you go to your friend or neighbor and offer to get their pet spayed/neutered? Could you trap one of those stray cats in your neighborhood and get it vaccinated and neutered? That will be one more free-roaming cat that's out of the reproduction loop. Maybe you could just send a check to say "thank you." Anything at all would help. I know you mean well. I know you mean to say "I couldn't work here because my own emotions get in the way of doing what has to be done for the animals. Thank you for doing it."
There are over 27 Million unwanted animals in US shelters each year