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    1. There is and, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Even if you don’t ‘love’ dogs, there is no excuse for treating them cruelly and certainly no excuse for killing them senselessly. so much about this situation needs to change. Since I don’t know where to start I will keep writing and telling and exposing it.

  1. Thank you and that everyone who does this selfless work. Our 2 year old is the child of a pregnant momma rescue from Tennessee that was brought up to a rescue in the Northeast so that she could be cared for. I wonder if she is the puppy of a Trish rescue

    1. That’s entirely possible. I meant to ask Trisha if she knew the number of dogs she has saved over the years, but it is likely in the hundreds, if not thousands. Laura, too. thank you for choosing to rescue. If half of the people who are looking for a pet went to a rescue or shelter instead of a breeder, we would empty the kennels in just one day.

  2. I sometimes wonder if the awful shelters are awful not because the people who run them are awful or if the people have reached a state of despair over the situation. I look back over the years of my dog ownership (1987 I got my first real dog) and so much has improved. I think the improvement is due more to a change in the mentality of the society around the shelters than anything else. Money helps a lot, but here in the San Luis Valley which is an impoverished and enormous rural farming community, none of the shelters are kill shelters. There are several legit foster-based rescues that work tirelessly raising funds for the dogs. Some rescues here haul their dogs to big cities every weekend to find them homes.

    When I popped up on Facebook after seeing Teddy’s photo, and showed interest in Teddy (my new Aussie), the volunteers in the shelter in my town were on it immediately, “Can you foster him? Can you do something? We’ll provide everything for him.” I wasn’t even sure, but it was enough to get me down there to meet him. And now he’s asleep at my feet.

    You’re completely right that if everyone looking for a pet went to a shelter for that pet, we’d have this problem licked, so to speak.

    At the same time, there are idiots who drive around with their dogs in the back of their pickups with the tailgate down and then express sorrow when their dogs are lost or dead beside the road. I dunno…

    1. There are many places where it is ‘improved’ which is why it’s hard to believe it can be the way it is in Western Tennessee. As if no time has passed, nothing has changed. Truly, I am home now, but still stunned.

      1. I wonder about that part of the country. I wonder about the mentality that thinks that things as they were or have been is OK. I wonder at people who don’t look around and see how it could be better — for dogs and a lot of other things.

  3. When I worked in an animal shelter in East Tennessee several years ago, I thought things were horrible until I heard about other, more rural shelters (or as most people down there called them, “the pound”) in the state that actually still killed excess animals using a gas chamber. Our executive director told me that, before the humane society took over our shelter in Knoxville, they weren’t even using sodium-pentathol injections; many were just shot. It’s discouraging to learn that that method is still being practiced, although, frankly, I’m not really surprised.

    People who naïvely maintain that pet overpopulation is a “myth” just make me want to scream. Sure, there may statistically be fewer dogs available nationwide than there are people who say they want one. But many of those people would not provide real, loving homes. Should we just give dogs (or cats) to anyone who asks, even if they have no intention of spaying/neutering them or welcoming them into their families? How does that solve anything beyond (maybe) improving some metrics? Quality of life also should be a factor, not simply how many dogs we can get out of site and out of mind — SOMEwhere (i.e., to anyone who wants one).

    When I worked in the Knoxville Animal Shelter, there often were guys who came in looking for a dog — and they made no attempt to hide this — to be a watchdog and nothing else. These folks saw/see nothing wrong with tying a dog to a tree or a fence all day, so matter how hot or cold it gets, to lay in its own feces as long as it barked when someone drove or walked nearby. Bring an animal into the house? “What?” they’d say. “The cats would scratch the furniture! The dog would bring in fleas and shed!”

    I hate to generalize, but to many, many people in the South (and other parts of the work, for that matter), animals are nothing more than chattel . The woman who said, “They don’t give a shit” pretty much summed up the redneck mentality of the problem. Many (if not most) southerners, by my experience (and I’ll be the first to admit I saw the worst of them), truly do not care — to them, they ARE “just” dogs (or cats) — because that’s how they were raised to view them. Frankly, there are many people who simply do not deserve to have animals in their care.

    Yes, there are a lot of people who DO care and do what they can — some, like the women profiled in this post, with courageous, Herculean efforts — to try to stem the tide at least a little. But, at least in the South, they are few and far between. (Again, just my experience. I do not have data to back this up, but I’ve seen so much cruelty and bad behavior down there, it can’t help but affect one’s objectivity. Truly, it was not easy being a journalist when I was documenting the situation.)

    In my opinion, what we need are mandatory spay/neuter laws and to outlaw purposeful breeding (no matter how “reputable” the breeder supposedly is), but these things aren’t going to happen. One thing we CAN do to make a difference long-term is to educate people, often one person at a time, like Cara and others do, using their skills and talents (in Cara’s case, powerful writing) and spreading the word about the situation — whether people want to hear about it or not. It may take generations. As harsh as this may sound, some people’s attitudes and mindsets will never change — like racists who will never let go of their hate — so we’ll probably have to wait for them to die out. In the meantime, in addition to rescuing and caring for as many animals as we can (e.g., in OPH foster families), we need to focus much of our energy on educating today’s children so that, hopefully, most of them will grow up to have more compassionate and caring attitudes toward animals. Then, hopefully, they will raise THEIR children to be compassionate and see dogs and cats as more than simply disposable accouterments of life.

    All we can do is keep talking about it to slowly affect change and then, as more people slowly become aware, there will be more people like Trisha, Ann, Kim and others who do all they can. This includes all the fosters who open their homes to welcome frightened innocent creatures who need a second chance. The people who truly care are the only hope of really changing things. So keep writing, Cara; keep taking pictures of this, Ian. Doing so while working in an animal shelter in the early ’90s changed my life and outlook on all this. It’s hard to look at, I know. But, again, showing and talking about this reality to those who do not know (or don’t want to know) is the only way things will ever really change for the better. Even if we could get mandatory spay/neuter laws and outlaw breeding, people would still violate them. Changing people’s hearts and raising a more compassionate, caring generation is hard, and though I do not foresee the needle moving much in my lifetime, things can — and must — change.