August 07, 2003

Every Dog Has His Day?

One certainly wouldn't think gas day at the animal shelter would be Quentin's day. The previously unnamed dog was locked in with 50 other animals, gassed, and survived.

How odd is this? It unnerves me - not that the dog survived, but to think of the horrors of this job. As an everyday American who takes responsibility for her pets (you know, neuters/spays, feeds, waters, lavishes affection, keeps them in her home and doesn't let them roam, doesn't return them to the animal shelter on the same whim as many who spontaneously decide it's time to "own" a pet). I can't stand to think of euthanasia of healthy animals. I've been exposed to the horrid choice of putting an animal to sleep twice now - both were too ill to survive on their own. It is the only experience nearly as gut wrenching as the death of a human loved one.

While Brian may scoff at the "animal lover whack jobs" (I believe he puts it that way) who strive for no-kill shelters, I really think that's ALL you can strive for, hope for, if you aim to effect change. It seems impossible because the American public is an irresponsible society. Still, any steps toward this goal are only positive.

Animals don't have inherent "rights," nor should they. But, to me, animals are more than mere property. They are living beings. A CD strewn carelessly across my floor is property. Any of my five cats is a family member. Perhaps certain laws may deal with both as something as narrow as "property," but I can promise you that there is a discrete distinction in my mind between the two. My cats are priceless. I'm not sure how to codify the distinction, and I am hopeful it will never matter to me. A year and a half when my home was broken into and the lower-level glass door was shattered, the first thing, once our safety was ensured, was to search for each of the cats. All remained. A true blessing.

This story strikes an emotional chord - cats and dogs often do with me. This dog now known as Quentin is in the spotlight, and I hope his second chance will raise some awareness of what happens, ultimately, to the "unwanted" animals in today's animal shelters. It's amazing what societal lore can do for a single "unwanted,", no?

Reminds me of this. I'm sure Michael McNeilley and his estate won't mind me reprinting it and giving it due credit.

Say Goodbye


It's like Frank said when
he worked in the pound,
killed all those dogs

in the evacuator, sucked the life
out of them in the oxygen
deprivation chamber:

he took a lot of them home,
the cute ones, the ones he
couldn't bear to kill -

the ones he wanted to save,
and they ran out in the

broke their chains and disappeared;
one got killed in a fight,
another ate rat poison.

One way or another they died,
every last damned
one of them.

One day someone came in with
5 perfect poodle puppies
and Frank was told

to kill 4 and save one. The choice of
who lived and who died was left
up to Frank,

so he took the runt of the litter,
the one who seemed he could

and he killed the 4 best ones,
reduced their air pressure
to that at 30,000 feet,

where they puked their hearts out
like all the others he
"put to sleep,"

and took the little one and put him
up front in a tiny cage,
where he would appear

pathetic to the general public,
some of whom selected him and
took him home that very day,

but who returned the next week
for another puppy, saying
the one they got

had "just died. He was fine and then
he died. The kids are all
broken up" they said.

And they wanted to know if there was
a money-back

You can't save anybody, Frank decided,
the system takes over
and that's that.

After a while Frank stopped
taking any of them home.
Frank modified

his objectives, but you can't say
he ever really gave up on them.
Like Frank said,

"I don't want to save them, not really,
I just want to rub their
fucking ears."

And he rubbed their ears, the furry discards,
the smart ones, the dumb ones,
the old and the young,

the rejects, the crippled and lame, the ones
with bad markings, the wrong coloration,
With problems beyond

their understanding. And each time before
he put them in the chamber, he looked
into their eyes.

And if there was no salvation, if there was
no redemption, at least there was
someone to say goodbye.


Found again on rec.arts.poems but easier to read here.

mcn is Michael McNeilley, who died 7/16/2000.


Posted by hln at August 7, 2003 10:37 PM | Animals