A Day in the Lobby

Never fear, I’m not going to ask you to go in the back.  You know back into the rooms where all the animals are living.  Behind the doors that lead to the kennel areas where you’ll actually have to see all the dogs and cats in cages and kennels.  

I won’t ask you to stand in the midst of 36 barking dogs or look into the eyes of those bouncing and wagging dogs standing at their doors of their kennel in the hope that you’ll set them free and scampering out for a walk. 

I’m not suggesting you take a turn through our cat room and down the aisle that will lead you past the 30 or so cats who will make it difficult to ignore them.  The playful ones who will reach through the bars with an outstretched paws hoping to grab your attention. 

Neither will I insist that you walk by the more austere residents who while no less wanting will do their pleading simply with their eyes. 

Nope, I’m not going to implore you to do something that we all know will pull at your heartstrings and leave you with images that will linger with you long after you leave our building.    

But I will ask you to sit in our lobby for an afternoon.  Friday’s a good day.  Friday before a long weekend is an incredibly good day to get educated.  If you want to get an exceptionally clear view of what the world of unwanted animals is all about just take a seat and wait and watch. 

I’m suggesting this after one of our foster’s commented this week on Facebook (thank you Kim VanMeter) after witnessing a compassionless surrender of a couple of older cats.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wandered into our lobby at lunch or on the weekend and have witnessed behavior that previous to my involvement here would have seemed unbelievable.  The fact that in some way such behaviors no longer stun me or even cause me to pause is worrisome at best.  Suggest a possible need for therapy at worst.

First let me say that assuredly there are those that bring in their pets that are heartbroken over having to do so.  The young woman that brought in her sick Boxer puppy when she realized that she could not afford the proper vet care this puppy needed for example.  While I would suggest she should have considered this possibility long before she ever got the puppy is just pouring salt in her wounds but I’m giving her a pass since she at least realized she couldn’t do the best for the puppy and was honest and very forthcoming when she delivered him to us.  You end up appreciating people like this when you see so much of the contrary. 

Kim’s experience was not one that involved animals that had been abused or neglected or at least not apparently so.  It was just the absence of any feeling from the cat’s owner, a man who when he sat them on the intake counter and stated he simply had too many.  Five, I think was the number.  Apparently there was a new woman involved that also thought he had too many. I’d of course suggest he dump her somewhere and keep the cats but he didn’t ask me for my input.  Regardless, as an animal lover imagining giving up your beloved pets with so little obvious care or emotion is unthinkable to most but common place in a shelter.

I assure you that your stay in the lobby won’t be lengthy before someone will drag in the dog they’ve had tied to a dog house in their yard for 5 years but have now decided that the kids never play with her and so they don’t want her any longer.  Disposable.

And wait, maybe the man will show up with his pickup bed full of 6 month old puppies and their mother, who again is pregnant and in a frustrated tone will announce that he’s had enough of her getting pregnant.   Without even a look back, he’ll be gone in a flash without even a parting pat to her head leaving her sitting stunned behind our counter wondering what in the world just happened. 

Or one of my personal favorites!  Someone will come in with a box full of sick kittens.  And when they are asked about the mother, they will state with such confidence you might think you misunderstood “Yes I have the mother.  But she never goes outside.”  Really, so how did she get pregnant?  Now wait for it…wait for it.  The answer is coming…..“I don’t know.  The only other cat in the house is her brother.” 

I kid you not! 

Just a few weeks ago on my lunch (so I didn’t have to wait long at all) a woman and man brought a cat and a box of beautiful kittens.  They dumped them on the counter and ran out the door.  In my attempt to explain to them that we needed to simply get a little information from them about the cats and their history, they ignored my pleas as I followed them out to their car.  When I implored them to come back in, I received a rather harsh threat concerning the kicking of my ass.  Stunned silent, which is something for me, I wondered the rest of the day why someone would be so mean and hateful to people that are helping their animals.  Helping them rid themselves of their animals.  I still wonder. 

Hopefully it won’t be one of the days where the family will come with their children in tow and the puppy they picked up outside of Wal-mart a few days or weeks early.  Announcing that they got the pup for their 6 year old but since the child is not taking care of it and the puppy is still peeing on the floor, they don’t want it anymore.  Sure the kids are wailing and the parents are probably going to do some screaming as they drag their children away from their beloved puppy but if I’m there you’ll also see me scooping up that puppy and whispering in his ear “You’re lucky to be here little guy.  That was not the life you deserved.”

Sadly I’m not making any of these stories up and there are those more callous, more idiotic and even more heart-wrenching than these.  I wonder at times what does keep our staff from going crazy.  I wonder what has kept me from reaching across the counter and smacking silly some of these people.  

But come see for yourself.  You’ll gain both a new insight and a new appreciation for the people that work in our shelter.  You’ll also gain a new lack of appreciation and disdain for some of the people who also walk through our door.  And while my purpose here is not to make you angry but rather to enlighten, I assure you that an afternoon in the lobby will do a great deal of both. 

Categories: Shelter Facts

4 replies

  1. Carrie, I can’t believe YOU didn’t kick the MANS ass! While I’ve always known you liked animals better than people, I can see how it’s gotten much worse (deservedly so) but I also see that you’ve come to realize that there are amazing people in the world…you just hadn’t run across them (and your calling yet). Just remember that what comes around goes around. I’m not going to judge, but I truly believe that when those truly hard-hearted jerks go to their judgement, GOD is going to drop them off at Satan’s door without a backward glance…JUST LIKE THEY DID TO THOSE POOR, SCARED ANIMALS! No wonder you’re so skinny! Have you ever been able to eat lunch in the time you’ve been at the Shelter? You’re one truly special lady! Love ya girl!

  2. Thank you Carrie for all you do.
    Going to go “hang out” in the lobby for a bit today.

  3. I was in the “Lobby” the day a woman with little children brought in a young, emaciated, nipples hanging to the ground mother dog and 7 extremely large puppies. The woman was telling a long suffering story how she “rescued” the pregnant mother dog and took “care” of her until the puppies were old enough to find “good” homes. I was kneeling with my arms around the little starving girl and listening to the “story”. The little boy got down with me and proceeded to tell me she was his dog and his other dog was the daddy. I fostered the Mom and she found a good forever home but it left me with the profound sadness over the lesson that was taught to children that day.

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