I work at the Humane Society of Jefferson County. It’s what some people call an “animal shelter” but I avoid that term when I can because of the negative connotations that come with that term. It is, however, a place where a large number of animals are housed in minimal accommodations. My coworkers and I work very hard, every day, to keep their living spaces clean and healthy. All animals are vaccinated upon entry, watched closely for signs of disease, and medicated as necessary for their recovery. Euthanasia is a last resort, and not taken lightly. Due to the diligence of our management, euthanizing for lack of space is a rare occurrence (as in “it has been years since it happened.”)
In the past week or two, visitors to H.S.J.C. have seen tags reading “Going to Rescue” on the doors of many animal’s crates or runs. Some ask what that means. A few complain that they want to adopt an animal so tagged: why can’t they adopt if the animal is right here?
What is Rescue?
Local adoptions are just one way we seek to save the lives of the animals in our care. We also work with several “rescues” that will transport our animals to other states where the demand for great dogs and cats is higher than it is here. We even transport animals ourselves.
How can that be? I’ll tell you. Areas like New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida have strict spay/neuter laws so irresponsible pet owners are not dumping tens of thousands of puppies and kittens a year into shelters for the community to support and care for. Therefore they often have a shortage of adoptable animals – unless you go to a licensed breeder and pay big bucks for an AKC registered animal. By moving animals from areas with a high population to areas with high demand, we save the lives of our animals because they do not end up being euthanized for lack of space.
Why Can’t *I* Adopt This One?
When a rescue “pulls” an animal from a shelter it is often done by looking at pictures and information posted to the internet. Trusting relationships are developed between agencies, making this sort of thing possible.
This is important because when a rescue accepts (reserves) and animal for transport in a week or two, they immediately set about seeking an adoptive home or a foster home for that animal. In some cases when the animal is unloaded from the transport van it will go almost immediately into the arms of it’s new family. We would seriously disappoint both the rescue agency and that adoptive family if the animal they are eagerly waiting for were adopted out locally.
But There Are So Few Left For Me!
It is not common for a large percentage of our population to be claimed by a rescue at one time. But on occasion is does happen and we allow it to happen because we’re expecting a large intake of new animals. When people ask us, “What am *I* supposed to do, there’s nothing for ME?” we say, “Come back tomorrow”. We take in animals every day. Some days a LOT of animals.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line for us is always saving the lives of these animals. If that means trucking them a thousand miles away to find good homes, we’ll do it. We are always delighted to adopt out locally — and we do this on a daily basis too — but when an animal has already been promised to someone, it cannot be adopted by someone else. That just wouldn’t be fair and doing it anyway would make it hard for us to find rescues to work with because we’d get a reputation for unreliability.
So please understand: it’s nothing personal. It’s also not about greed: we lose money on animals that go to some rescues, but we save their life. And that is our primary concern. We hope it is yours as well.