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Reality Check
Walk a mile in a shelter worker’s shoes

We received an email from a Bark reader yesterday that stopped us in our tracks. Sometimes when we talk about the trials for animals in shelters, we lose sight of the committed professionals and volunteers who do all they can for animals in terrible circumstances. Sandra Morrison of DeKalb Junction, N.Y., draws attention to their contributions and the reality of euthanasia.

"My sister worked at a shelter in Pittsburgh that had a gas chamber. At this shelter they put down 2,500 dogs in a year. When they had the gas chamber they would put the dogs in together and they would smell each other and then go to sleep. After the gas chamber was taken away from them, they had to hold perfectly healthy dogs in their arms and watch the life go out of their eyes. Sometimes the dogs fought so much it would take many shots to put them down. These people at the shelter work there because they love dogs and they fall in love with them when they enter the shelter. They make the best for the dogs while they are there and hope, just hope a lot for the dogs to find a forever home. My sister didn’t work very long after the chamber was taken from them. I guess that’s something that happens a lot these loving people can’t take it. I think it’s one of those things that you have to live in someone’s shoes for a while."

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Submitted by Carolyn | February 5 2009 |

Horrific. These are stories that keep me up at night. I admire shelter workers. I had a friend who had worked in a shelter in MO for 7 years. She described choosing which dogs went to the chamber each week ... if there were "a lot" of black male lab-type dogs, then several of those would have to go, no matter how adoptable they might be. They needed more variety for adopters to chose from. Small dogs had a better chance that large dogs. She was a committed and animal-loving person who has now finished a graduate degree and gone on to work elsewhere. I always wondered how she found the courage and compassion to go to work there every day.

Submitted by donna in portland | February 8 2009 |

Wishing for the gas chamber back? That's crazy talk.

I don't think this chamber had a glass door and that if it did that anyone sat there and watched while these dogs fought like hell to breathe and then while they choked to death. The thought that there was a sense of comfort and community for these helpless animals is absolutely insane.

Submitted by Sandy | February 11 2009 |

I'm sure the gas chamber is a sad way to go but have you ever held a healthy dog when it had to be put to sleep. We had a dog that showed up at our place a beautiful black shepard. We kept it for a week. With no one answering our ads, I neutered him. 1 week later he bit someone. We were served representation papers. The dog warden visited. The insurance company rep. came for a statement and told us this will all go away if we put the dog down. Euthanasia papers from the vet sent to the lawyer will show them we are responsible home owners. They told us if we gave him to someone else with the knowledge that he bites and he bites again then someone can come back on us with this. In not so many words the insurance co. didn't know if they could keep us if we went through court with this. With every one breathing down my neck I held him while the vet gave him the shot. I have held 5 dogs while the vet put them down 4 were old,1 sick. This was not something I want to do again. Hobo fought with everything he had in him. Now times that by 50. 50 in week that's what that shelter had to put down in a week. If I had problems with 1 dog tell me what happens to someones pysche with 50.

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