Humane Society heroes

Published 1:29 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

I know that my last letter raised a few eyebrows. And a few questions.

And so it should.

Death is a very sensitive subject. It is close to the heart, and it is painful. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about losing a beloved relative or a beloved pet. Or even a stray animal.

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But a very important question that was asked of me was—what is the difference between our Humane Society and a no-kill shelter. A lot of folks feel they don’t want to help a shelter that practices euthanasia.

I’ve worked with a lot of different kinds of shelters—SPCAs, Humane Societies, grass-root groups, cat rescues and a lot of wonderful veterinarians that gave a lot of their own time and money to help homeless animals. And they all know that there are never enough homes, and that, sadly, sometimes death is a kindness.

It’s true that no-kill shelters rarely put animals to sleep, and then it’s usually for medical reasons. But they don’t advertise how selective they are about admitting animals. To enter most no-kill shelters, a pet must be in the best health—physically and mentally. If they are not “adoptable”—for any reason, they are turned away. No-kill shelters also limit the number of animals they admit. So sometimes, pets are rejected for the simple reason that “there’s no room at the Inn.” It’s true that no-kill shelters rarely euthanize animals. They simply turn them away and let some other shelter do the dirty work!

Bainbridge/Decatur County Humane Society takes in any animal that comes in the door. When they come in the door, at least they have a chance! The numbers that come in on any given day can be staggering! But if 20 animals come in and there are only 10 cages available, what happens to the leftovers? Sometimes, they go home with employees or the directors or a few foster homes that are available, but it often comes down to choices—sad choices, because there are just too many!

They come in flea-ridden and bones sticking out hungry. They come in with sores, wounds and broken bones. They come in with fur so dirty and matted that there are huge painful sores festering underneath. They come in with heartworms, ticks and mange. They come in with hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and the diarrhea that these parasites cause. They come in pregnant or with their litters. No-kill shelters choose not to deal with these realities. But they are very real!

At Bainbridge’s Humane Society they are all welcomed. They are always welcomed through these doors. They are all bathed, fed and given comfort. If medical help is needed, they get it. If their coat needs extensive care, Kimberly’s Pet Salon is close by and always helps. At the very least, all of these animals are given a chance.

I have a challenge for anyone who won’t support our local shelter because they are not a no-kill shelter—help them become one!

Help this community and the helpless animals within it!

Donate anything you can (money, cleaning supplies, bedding). Volunteer a few hours on your day off—go down to the shelter and see what this county is dealing with! Talk to your neighbors with pets that aren’t spayed/neutered and kick in a few bucks if they can’t afford it themselves.

Internet some Web sites to find out how shelters work and ways to help. Adopt or find friends that can offer a forever home to a shelter animal. Shun breeders, puppy mills and pet shops.

Offer to foster a litter of puppies or kittens. Every simple penny you can save for our shelter helps them to do more networking to find more homes.

Pilots for Paws and Pup my Ride are just two organizations that donate their time and resources. But there are so many more. If you can’t find a rescue group—start one!

If we all reached out with our time and spirit, there could truly be a time of no more homeless pets.

Sally MillerBainbridge, Ga.