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News & Views February 2020 Issue

The Shelter May Not Look Perfect, But…

Dog Shelters

© Serjiunea | Bigstock

Shelters donít always look pristine, but that doesnít mean those who work there arenít doing their best to take care of the animals.

Shelters don’t always seem the perfect picture of animal care. Some cages may be dirty and food bowls, empty. But looks can be deceiving. Before you write off a shelter as bad for the animals it cares for and therefore not fit to house an animal you would want to adopt (or not fit for your charitable efforts), consider these points.

Dirty cages. No matter how often or how well a shelter is cleaned, there are bound to be some dirty cages at any given time, especially given the financial and staffing constraints many shelters have to contend with. Cages often don’t look their best first thing in the morning, when there hasn’t yet been an opportunity to thoroughly clean and disinfect them.

Empty food bowls. Most shelter dogs are not free-fed as often as desired but, rather, twice a day. No matter how good the shelter, it can provide only institutionalized living for rescued animals, with strict schedules to insure every dog’s needs are met.

Near-empty water bowls. A dog or other animal should always have water available, but a lot of animals tip over their water bowls. If they were always refilled to the brim, cages and shelter floors would end up soaking wet.

Sick animals. Dogs often arrive at shelters sick, too thin, or with matted or otherwise unkempt coats. A good shelter will treat sick or ungroomed dogs as soon as possible, but depending on its caseload, it might not be able to tend to every animal’s needs immediately.

The bottom line: Don’t judge a shelter the way you would judge someone caring for a single pet in a home environment. It’s a whole different set of challenges.

Comments (2)

I don't know what the prior commenter is upset about....the dogs, the owners, the shelters? It seems like reasonable advice to me, and one can always speak to the shelter staff or manager if there's a condition causing concern. And what in the world is the comment about overgrown grass all about?? Someone is feeling hypersensitive to judgment. Judgment is something we all need to exercise in our lives; when the conditions appear too neglected to tolerate, we should feel entitled to question staff and take any necessary action to remedy them.

Posted by: Maggie | February 17, 2020 2:07 PM    Report this comment

I find this article offensive. A shelter has a staff and the staff knows when the business opens. They should be able to clean any overnight soiling before opening those doors, even if doing so makes people wait. Dogs should be looked at, at the very least, and removed to another area if they appear ill. You wouldn't want them to infect all the other dogs, would you? I can't imagine that you'd advocate buying a puppy from a breeder if the welping box was filthy or the puppies were sick. There are many reasons a breeder's premises might be less than ideal. Perhaps she had been sick, or her children had the flu.

And thank you for insinuating in your readers should be judging other pet owners for the environments in which they live. Would that be because the grass was over grown or there was too much dog poop? Are we really expected to be able to care for our dogs better than dog professionals care for theirs? Sometimes we can't put our pets first, but most of us do the very best we can.

If you are concerned about the well-being of dogs, whether it's one dog in a home, 10 at a breeder's, or 50 at a shelter, there are procedures to be followed. Contact animal control. Speak to the senior staff person. Contact the Better Business Bureau. Ask to visit another day. The last thing we need is people feeling empowered to pass judgement.

Posted by: BetsyK. | January 21, 2020 6:49 PM    Report this comment

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