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I used to work at an animal shelter. I know what you’re thinking, “you’re so lucky, you get to play with puppies and kitties all day.” If by playing you mean cleaning litter boxes, spraying out kennels, and having kittens using you as a scratching post, then yes. It was a lot of work taking care of all the animals: making sure everyone has fresh food and water, changing litter boxes, letting all the dogs out, mopping all the floors, etc... but I loved it anyway.
Unfortunately there were worse things there than litter boxes. We have had many cases of animal cruelty, people abandoning their pets because of illness, unwanted pregnancies, or simply because they didn't want them anymore. Or in some cases animals are seized due to abuse or starvation.
One spaniel puppy, called Emma, all she ever wanted to do was play and give kisses. She was abandoned because her leg was run over by a four wheeler. Her leg was shattered beyond repair. Her owners decided they would rather have her put to sleep than have a three-legged dog.
Another case: a long haired orange cat named Aslan was seized due to an embedded collar. He had a collar put on him as a kitten but it was never loosened or removed and as a result tightened to the point it cut through his skin, leaving a large open wound on the back of his neck. Despite all the pain he went through, he was so sweet and loved people. He would walk right up to a stranger and roll onto his back.
Unfortunately, overpopulation is another serious problem with shelters. We have had pregnant strays half starving, giving birth to up to a dozen babies. Even worse, we have had boxes of newborn kittens abandoned literally hours old, umbilical cords still attached. They needed to be kept warm and bottle fed every few hours and even then they don’t always survive without their mother. In some cases if we are full, sometimes we will euthanize healthy babies or even pregnant mothers.
If you are planning on getting a pet, please adopt, don’t shop, spay or neuter your pets, and donate to your local shelter whether it’s food, litter, blankets, or money. Whether you are getting a puppy playmate for your kids or a companion cat to curl up in your lap, every animal deserves a good home.