A sobering post on social media not only described the fate of a dog who was surrendered to a rescue, but the fate of millions of animals who are dumped by their owners. On Tuesday, Villalobos Rescue Center stated on its Facebook page:
Today I killed your dog. Yeah, you know who you are. When you called me from out of state to take your dog, I told you we were no longer able to do out of state rescues,” the post explained. “You then told me your dog stood no chance because he had bitten people. I explained that we would not take a dog with a serious bite history because there were just too many dogs out there, that have never bitten anyone.”
Villalobos provided the caller with tips on house training and other options, and then noted, “if you [can’t] keep him, then ‘do the right thing’ and let yours be the last face he sees before letting him cross over the bridge.” But sadly, for this dog – and for so many other animals who are surrendered to shelters nationwide, that wasn’t the last thing that he saw.
According to the ASPCA, every year, approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters nationwide. Of those, more than 2.5 million never leave the shelter alive. The HSUS notes that a healthy, adoptable cat or dog is euthanized once every 13 seconds. It’s unclear how many of these animals are “owner surrender” and how many were dumped in other places and picked up as “strays.”
Villalobos’ post explained that the owner of this dog had a friend send the dog to Louisiana, where he was surrendered to Villalobos. But the rescue explained that it couldn’t take in a large, middle-aged pit bull with a known history of biting people. So the friend then turned the dog loose, called animal control, and stated that there was a “stray” dog on the loose.
When the frightened, abandoned dog showed aggression with the animal control officer, he used a catch pole for safety. The post continued: “Your dog fought and struggled as the officer put him into a cage on his truck. And in doing the right thing, the officer realized this dog needed special attention and instead of bringing him to the shelter, he brought him to one of our satellite locations.”
Villalobos gave the dog time and space, recognizing that the dog was “empty…” and that there was “no one home.” The ordeal that the dog had gone through only increased his aggression, and only after the dog tried to bite two staff members did the rescue recognize who the dog was. The post continued:
I became enraged at first, but that quickly turned to such an overwhelming wave of sadness. After giving it much time and thought, I decided to do what should’ve been done back at your dog’s home. But instead of him sitting in your lap and you stroking his face and telling him you were sorry for failing him…it was me and the compassionate team at our vet’s office…a group of complete strangers that tried to comfort your dog.”
Instead of receiving training help from his owner and an animal behaviorist – or even, as a last resort, being held by his owner as he was euthanized, this dog’s owner failed him. This dog died among strangers. The post stated: “He wanted nothing to do with anyone of us. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t kiss his face as he crossed over.”
The staff at Villalobos had to hold the dog at a distance on a lead rope and gave the dog the calmest environment possible, talking to him softly. But still, he “shook with his tail between his legs…” Only after the lethal liquid coursed through the dog’s body could the rescue workers finally pet him. “He fell asleep on the floor and only then was I able to stroke his beautiful muscles and close his eyes,” the post stated.
Villalobos pointed out that dumping an animal at a rescue, shelter, or veterinarian instead of trying to help the animal is shameful – and painful for those who have to try to help the animal. The post stated: “To watch the staff at my vet’s office, who had only known this dog for minutes…tears in their eyes…shame on you. To the shelters who try to do the right thing, by networking, moving dogs around when there is no space, and forcing them to kill a dog after only days…shame on you. To the rescue groups who are always on the verge of bankruptcy and someone like you dumps on them…shame on you again.”
Millions of animals, just like this one, are “given up” by their owners every year. According to petfinder, biting is the tenth most common reason for surrendering an animal. The most popular reasons are moving, (7%); a landlord not allowing a pet, (6%); too many animals in the household, (4%); the cost of pet maintenance, (5%); an owner having personal problems, (4%); having “inadequate facilities,” (4%); no homes available for litter mates, (3%); having “no time” for the pet, (4%); and pet illness(es), (4%.
Reasons like “animal illness” and “having no time for an animal” are particularly heartbreaking, as these animals often die without the comfort of a familiar face, sick, injured, sad, and very much afraid. Regardless of the reason, for more than one-third of these animals, the end result is an untimely death – with, and sometimes without – any comfort from shelter or rescue workers.
The post added: “Your dog is gone now. It was my face he saw last. It should’ve been yours. I killed your dog, but why does it feel like a piece of me died too?”