“All of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the ‘back’ of an animal shelter for just one day.” [Warning: real]

Via Waylon Lewis
on Oct 15, 2011
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Warning: don’t look at this if you don’t like to be aware. Really, don’t! ~ ed.


A letter & photo from a Shelter Manager.


Photo & message from one who knows.

I’ve blogged about this sort of thing on elephant for years. But, now, finally, we’ve found an informed, firsthand message from one “in the trenches.” ~ ed.

Photo and below comment via Reddit:

A Letter from a Shelter Manager – anonymous in North Carolina

I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all…a view from the inside if you will.

First off, all of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know.

That puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”, that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.

The most common excuses I hear are; “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving too that doesn’t allow pets? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? “We don’t have time for her”. Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! “She’s tearing up our yard”. How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”.

Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you, your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.

Those dogs just don’t get adopted. It doesn’t matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.

If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long . Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”.

First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process. They will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head I deal with everyday on the way home from work.

I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter.

Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this and it made me want to adopt”. THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


10 Responses to ““All of you breeders/sellers should be made to work in the ‘back’ of an animal shelter for just one day.” [Warning: real]”

  1. marylee says:

    This makes me crazy. I will never understand how a breeder animal is somehow better. I have had many dogs and cats over my lifetime. EVERY ONE was found or rescued and no special breed could have been better.

    thanks for posting this. i shared it all around

  2. catnipkiss says:

    This breaks my heart and I agree that a "rescue" is the best kind of dog, and a mixed breed even better. Wish I could save them all…. Alexa M

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Kristina Bybee love this, wish everyone I knew would read this! I've worked in the 'back' of a shelter and my heart will never be the same!

    Cynthia Beard This makes me ill. My dog is a "pure breed," but she is also a rescue. I got her directly from the family that gave her up–she never had to go to an animal shelter–but that also allowed me to know exactly what the first 1-1/2 year of her life was like. No training at all. Not even "sit." And only three toys, all of which were cat toys that didn't appeal to her. The first year that I had her, I had to teach her how to be a dog and not just an animal that was boarded all the time because the family was constantly away from home. She is the sweetest dog ever, and it breaks my heart to think of all the dogs and cats that end up in shelters because people don't understand that a pet is a lifetime commitment. One thing that frustrates me is that some people judge me immediately when they see that my dog is purebred. They assume I purchased her from a breeder. For those who read this: when you encounter a person walking a purebred dog, please don't judge and criticize. You don't know where that dog came from or what that dog went through prior to his or her current circumstance.
    51 minutes ago · UnlikeLike · 3 peopleelephantjournal.com and 2 others like this.
    Donna Runion AND, ALL people who refuse to neuter or spay your pet should work in the back of an animal shelter. I have no problem with responsible breeders and no problem with pure breeds, I do have a problem with pet owners thinking it would be "fun" to let Fluffy have just one litter or thinking Max would miss his testicles.
    47 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
    Yesica Pineda What is to observe is the poor understanding that we have of our world, our natural world. This is Earth, an animal world. The fashion to "shelter" animals, though from good intentions, has disrupted the animal freedom to be….well? free. I come from a country (and it is not the only country in the world) where dogs, cats, live everywhere, like we humans do. Humans grow up learning how to interact with their animals peacefully. Of course, some humans are cruel and don't care, but humans do this between humans, it is just human nature, low vibration. You deal with it. But mainly, to have the animals enjoy their free use of our land, shows humans a sense of respect for life, which "shelters" do not. Of course, "shelters" are packed with animals, they do not belong in "shelters", they are a whole race. If we were to pack humans in "Shelters", like we do…just imagine. My point is: The problem is not in the procreation of life, but in the way we cage life for our "vain" idea that we are "saving the world" by caging animals, that way we do not have to learn how to relate with a dog who walks free in the street. You know, in my neighborhood, some dogs live in the street, everyone feeds them, caress them, if somebody was sick, somebody would do the doctor, or watch the die, like you would with any living being, no need to "shelter"… I remember when I first walk/drive the streets in America, one of my first thoughts was: "How weird, they don't have animals in this country"…oh, wait, they are all "sheltered"!
    34 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
    Belinda B. Barnes Not all sheltered-if they are lucky they are living a long happy life in a loving home, clean, well fed, exercised, and well fed. Running the streets is dirty, flea and tick ridden, and simply inhumane and dangerous. 😉 not to mention the potential and likelihood of heart worms which I heard from a wife of a vet that they are untreatable now because of a lack of the drug to treat heartworms. Don't forget to get your pet tested for heartworms yearly and fish oil tablets are the bomb pet lovers. My digs coats are the most beautiful coats, grey disappeared around my black labs mussel (sp) they looked so lovely that I started taking the fish oil tabs too. Ha and now I swear my hair is thicker and darker. Love your pets and donate to the shelters when you can spare please. The hawaii humane society rocks!

  4. helen says:

    one day in the 90's i happened to be in the shelter in boulder . during that 10 minutes, a woman left in a purebred chow because he was a shade too dark to match the sofa, a couple who were divorcing put in their 9 yr old sons adorable purebred tabby manx, the boy wasin tears shaking, traumatised. Some people arent fit to have animals or children,

  5. Jennifer says:

    My brother rescued a Husky mix last Spring, my mom rescued a Bichon mix this summer and my husband and I rescued a Jack Russell mix a month ago. They're fabulous! No issues, just love – lots and lots of love. We will never buy from a pet store.

  6. Nancy says:

    Here, the big pet stores "let" space to rescue organizations, who adopt out "regular" cats. They also allow rescue organizations to hold dog adoption clinics. It may be different where you are. But as a veterinarian, I see where people get their pets.

    "I just wanted a Golden Retriever" is an oversimplification. Dog breeds were created for specific purposes, which led to vast differences in personality, temperament and health issues. On the other hand, shelter animals are more likely to come with behavior issues which may take much time and effort to correct. Some people prefer to start at square one. You might fault them for this preference, but then you would also have to fault people who procreate for not adopting foster children instead.

    Until people learn to spay and neuter their pets, and until more people are educated as to what responsible breeding entails, there will always be more pets needing homes than there are people willing to adopt them.

  7. Danielle says:

    I too work in the veterinary field, and see plenty of rescues who don’t have behavioral issues. Also, if someone wants a working dog, there are breed-specific rescues. No matter how you slice it, buying sends more animals to their death.

    And yes, I would actually prefer to see people who want kids and can afford to adopt children do so instead of bringing more into the world. There are many children bouncing around in the foster care system who need families.

  8. sbobet says:

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!

    It’s the little changes that make the largest changes.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Candice says:

    there’s not a day that goes by yay I’m not grateful that I adopted my dog from the shelter. He was on sale that day for 50% off. He was sad and scared in the corner of his kennel, it took ten minutes of sitting on the floor talking to him to coax him to the side of the pen, when we went outside to walk and maybe play all he did was sit under my legs and lean his sad head on my knee for pets. once he got comfortable in my house he immediately went to the dog door, he knew sit and never once relieved himself in the house, it was clear he had been someone’s dog. How anyone could throw away such a sweet, affectionate, wonderful animal is beyond me. I’m so glad that I walked in there that day, I can’t imagine the last 8 years without him.

  10. Langley Porter says:

    The sad part is that like so much in the world, the people who really care either already know this or will read and it will change how they think. Most others who cry will, and think, then go back to what they were doing oblivious to what has been written. Dogs are a problem because the owners are a problem. Children are a problem because parents are a problem. They are one in the same. Maybe if owners were to be euthanized with the pets then that would save two problems. Overcrowding and stupid people. An animal is a life and it deserves to live as much as each human individual, so start thinking people. 🙁 🙁 🙁