Don't let poor planning turn animal s...

Don't let poor planning turn animal shelter into dumping ground

Posted in the University Park Forum

Yvonne Curry

Beltsville, MD

#1 Aug 12, 2012
Don't let poor planning turn animal shelter into dumping ground
Written by Amy Apergosky Laurel

If you look up the word "shelter" in a dictionary, you'll see one definition is "a building serving as a temporary refuge or residence for homeless persons, abandoned animals, etc." It doesn't say "a repository for consequences of the public's bad decisions."
The public has to stop using the shelter as a dumping ground for the animals they brought into their homes without doing the proper planning. Don't adopt or buy a large-breed puppy and complain it got too big and dump it in the shelter. Don't leave a dog chained outside 24/7 and call animal control to come get it when your neighbors complain it's barking all the time. Don't surrender a cage full of kittens to the shelter because you couldn't find homes for them, while you have no intention of spaying the mama cat you have at home.
The irresponsible citizens of the county are creating a huge emotional and financial burden on the caring shelter workers, volunteers and rescue groups who scramble to save as many animals as possible.
Before you bring a pet into your home, talk to people who are good pet parents. Ask questions and, more importantly, listen to the answers. Be prepared to be frustrated at times with your pet. We've all been there, and there are caring people and qualified trainers who can help you deal with any issue you're having with your pet. Attend a pet parenting class offered at the P.G. County shelter. Make sure you are 100 percent committed to keeping the pet for its lifespan and that you can afford all those years' veterinary expenses. Educate yourself on the breed's size, personality, health issues. Don't believe your kids when they tell you, "We'll take care of it," and then they get tired of it in two months.
Get your pets spayed or neutered and microchipped. Keep a collar with ID on them at all times and don't let them run loose. Keep them well-socialized. Integrate them into your family. Keep them healthy, and please keep your dogs on monthly heartworm preventatives. If a legitimate crisis strikes and you absolutely have to surrender your pet, it will already be healthy and adoptable, and we have a better chance of saving its life.
Let's save the precious kennel and cage spaces for animals that really need help: animals that have been abandoned or neglected by cruel people. Animals whose owners fall on hard times and have nowhere else for the animal to go. Animals whose owners have major medical problems or pass away.
The shelter should not be a dumping ground for the public's lack of commitment to the animals they brought into their homes, perhaps impulsively.
And please stop getting pit bulls until the ban is lifted, if it ever will be. If they are impounded, there aren't many places they can go, as rescues are frequently full. Each week, there are over a dozen (friendly and sweet) pit bulls in the shelter, and sometimes as many as over 30, taking up kennel space that could be used for other dogs.
Finally, to all those responsible pet parents in the county who treat their pets as beloved family members and to the rescues who devote countless hours and dollars to saving animals from the P.G. shelter, thank you. You are part of the solution, not the problem, and animal lovers everywhere applaud your efforts.
Amy Apergosky Laurel

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