A Neverending Stream of Unwanted Animals

July 3, 2019

We are home and settled in for the holiday week, but in some ways, I feel like I’m still in Tennessee. The pull is so strong. The stories down there break my heart but they also fire up my desire to fix this situation.

It is SO fixable. It does not need to be happening. There are more than enough of us to help the women struggling to help the dogs in western Tennessee. Once more, there are more than enough homes for those dogs, too.

From Kim Kavin’s excellent, well-researched book, The Dog Merchants:

“The notion that America’s homeless dogs face an ‘overpopulation problem’ does not match up against the available statistics. Supply is not exceeding demand. Americans want about 8 million dogs a year as new pets, while only about 4 million dogs are entering shelters….If just half the Americans already getting a dog went the shelter route, then statistically speaking, every cage in US animal control facilities could be emptied. Right now.”

And Tabi and Amber and Kim and Anne and Laura wouldn’t spend their every waking moment fighting to keep animals alive.

I’m not trying to guilt those of you who chose to buy your dog, particularly if you bought that dog from a reputable breeder and/or intend to show your dog. What I am saying is that if the next time you decide you’d like another pet (especially a cat), you’d consider looking at your local shelter or rescue.

And the next time a friend of yours or just an acquaintance tells you they adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue, thank that person for choosing to save a dog.

I’ve been home for five days now and already I’ve heard of more heartbreaking stories landing in the lap of both Karin’ 4 Kritters and Red Fern. Puppies abandoned and struggling, three dogs rescued by a woman who has them kenneled on her front porch to keep neighbors from poisoning them, dogs and puppies simply dumped. I can’t keep count of how many are in desperate need of rescue, so I asked for a summary from Laura (who handles transports from the area for OPH and many other rescues across our country).

The list here of calls for help in one day is:

– 3 pups dumped at Red Fern (that may go to Greenfield pound) – the picture of the ear with ticks is one of these puppies.

– 2 choc pups dumped in the country that they put at the city pound for now

– 2 pittie teens they’re being asked to take. (Crockett and Tyke)

– 3 strays in Sharon, TN that a lady caught because the neighbors were threatening to poison them because they’ve been running loose for months.

– pittie pup in Greenfield that the owner wants to surrender because it’s getting to be “too much”

– 2 three month old pups someone is asking her to take

– a 6 month injured beagle. The owner was going to “put it on the street” so her brother went and picked it up but he thinks it has a broken rib and it’s in pain and he doesn’t have money to treat it so he wants to dump it on Tabi.

That’s just in a day. Multiply that times all the little towns and counties all over western Tennessee that rely on rescues like Red Fern and Karin’ 4 Kritters and their minimalist dog pounds. Places where there is no safety net and dogs are suffering and dying daily. Places where there is no real, reasonable, low-cost access to spay/neuter. Places where dogs (and cats) are not valued or loved, and where their local government will not spend money because it’s ‘just a dog’ or ‘just a cat.’

We seem to have ‘solved’ the problem in the northeast and many metropolitan areas, but we are far from a solution in the rural south and Midwest. We cannot forget them.

The need is so real. Something has got to change. Someone has got to let these dogs out.

Thanks for reading and for caring.



If you’d like to help, page back through these posts for contact information, but if you’d really like to help, TELL someone. Spread the word – I remain convinced, that the problem is not that people don’t care, it’s that they don’t know. Please help us tell them.


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Martha Kennedy
4 Years Ago

This is the one that pisses me off, the people who want to surrender their dog because it’s gotten to be “too much.” I don’t. know. Yesterday I was at our shelter getting Teddy’s last shots. Two volunteers were taking pits out of cages and walking them. One of them stuck its head in the room where Teddy and I were and lunged at Teddy. I shut the door. Ours is a no-kill shelter and those two dogs will be in our shelter forever. The shelter director and I talked about pits briefly. The shelter has 40 dogs (it’s beyond full) and more than half are pit bulls. They’re currently running a “sale” and it’s working, but people don’t want pit bulls. The longer they’re in that shelter the “worse” they become. It’s a vicious cycle and I have no answer and I’m not adopting one, so…

Cara Sue Achterberg
4 Years Ago

I think that isn’t an unusual situation at some of the ‘no-kill’ shelters. And I have to wonder if keeping dogs living in a shelter environment permanently is less humane than euthanizing. Pitbulls are intelligent, high-energy, highly sensitive dogs and a shelter environment is many times the worse place for them. Then it becomes a cycle – they’re stressed, they act out, people are frightened, assumptions are made, they don’t get adopted, they stay in shelter longer, they get more stressesd. I don’t have the answer, but I believe we have to keep working at it from many angles. It’s a complicated situation, certainly not helped by the nonstop negative media. Many times we see what we expect to see when it comes to a pitbull. Reading the research, it’s clear to me, that we created this problem, not the dogs.

Martha Kennedy
4 Years Ago

Yep and I’d suggest that selective breeding of bully breeds to fight added to this this problem. I loved my pit. She was a wonder dog. <3

Paul Handover
4 Years Ago

Cara, are you happy if I republish this post on Learning from Dogs?

Cara Sue Achterberg
4 Years Ago

Please do!!

Paul Handover
4 Years Ago

Thank you!

Darlene Timmons
4 Years Ago

Cara, thank you for all you do for these poor dogs, I wish there were some way I could help but at 85 years I am unable to rescue though I do donate. I did rescue a kitten and she has been a joy to my husband and I. By the way I just received you new book and can’t wait to read it!

Cara Sue Achterberg
4 Years Ago

Thank you for rescuing a kitten Darlene! You have helped, and while I totally understand the difficulty in fostering or working with rescue at your age, donations make a difference. What will make the most difference now is for you to spread the word. People need to know. hope you like the book!

4 Years Ago

Would affordable/free spay neuter drop the numbers, or is not speutering your pets just a lifestyle choice there? I’m almost wondering if it would work to pay people to spay/neuter their pets (like $50 for a female; $75 for a male) Of course, that would be something that would have to be done through a massive grant, like Petco or Maddie’s Fund, but wondering if that is a type of solution.

Hope the firecrackers aren’t too bad where you are.

Cara Sue Achterberg
4 Years Ago

I like how you think! Obviously, asking people to spay/neuter and making it easy/cheap/even free doesn’t always work, so maybe paying them would. It is a cultural difference. Although many times it really is that they don’t have access to local/reasonable spay/neuter options. People who don’t have a car or very much money can’t travel long distances to drop their dog off for an expensive surgery and return the next day. That said, at Oconee Humane in SC, they offered to pick up the dogs, have the surgery done (plus vaccinate) and return the dogs or cats and people still refused. It will be a slow, gradual change, but we have to keep working at it. Spay/neuter is only one part of the equation- an important one for sure, but only one part.

The firecrackers have been horrible. I’ve had to bring Daisy in every night before dark, so she is spending a lot of time in her crate this week. Tonight should be the last night (fingers crossed) for that though.

A plea! – Learning from Dogs
4 Years Ago

[…] Especially when one reads posts this one that speaks of the stream of unwanted animals. […]