Someone wrote that to me today. It’s amazing how easy it is assumed that because you express a different opinion than someone else’s, you are immediately categorized as angry. Everyone gets angry at some things I guess, but in this particular conversation, I wasn’t angry. I trudged seemingly alone up a steep hill, a mountain actually; sharp boulders of ignorance, deep caverns of bitterness, and dense thickets of blind hatred. But I’m not angry. It’s just another day at the office. Sometimes people just don’t understand why all of them can’t be saved.
I responded that I was definitely not angry. I reminded her that in a very heated conversation involving several thousand people I was one of the few participants that had not resorted to CAPS LOCK ON EVERY WORD I TYPED, slanderous fabrications in an effort to discredit others, death threats, bomb threats, and cartoon pictures with fake blood on them. And goodness, I definitely wasn’t the one selling t-shirts. I was merely expressing my opinions, stating quite a few facts, and attempting to educate the public about an everyday occurrence that was part of the reality of animal rescue: euthanasia. More specifically in this instance, the euthanasia of an animal that was surrendered to a facility by it’s owner after it lashed out during a leashed walk and killed another animal in front of her.
Reading the words and thoughts of others,these people who were truly angry, can be disturbing. The rage people express, the beligerant fury people spew when they feel you have deprived what they see as a perfectly healthy dog of a life chasing butterflies and pooping rainbows is frightening to the inexperienced. But when you’re a dog catcher, it’s just another day at the office. People say “I could never do your job” and most of them are right. I’ll happily agree with them, usually to their surprise. You need thick skin to work in this field. You need the selflessness to put your own needs beneath both the animals and the public you serve; you need the self control to stay calm and professional in the face (literally, like standing directly in front) of criminal abuse and neglect; you must have a realistic understanding of the obstacles you face, a plan to overcome them, and an expectation and acceptance that the bad people will fight you every step of the way. I know that not everyone can handle that.
So I started thinking about the things we see and hear every day, that would make most people angry. Hell, they would make most people quit in the first week. Just a sample…
When someone asks me to say the 8 week old pitbull puppy they want to adopt is a service dog so they can skirt the breed restriction at their apartment complex.
Opening a dirty cardboard box that’s been left at the front door of the shelter at some point overnight and immediately smelling parvo.
A 15 year old girl screaming at me that she wasn’t leaving without a new cat because the one her mom adopted yesterday and brought back to exchange wasn’t friendly enough. And being forced to oblige.
Picking up a dog that’s been hit by a car and realizing its the same dog you’ve seen a dozen times on a local facebook lost and found page that is out on a regular basis and people keep grabbing it and returning it to the owner instead of calling the dogcatcher because we’ll just kill it.
Retrieving a raccoon that died of heat stroke two days ago from a trap in a backyard because “they forgot to check it”. Getting the front door slammed in your face when you remind them it’s inhumane to allow the animal to suffer. And being reprimanded by a higher up when the resident complains that you hassled them about ‘just a raccoon’.
Being yelled at on the phone because you informed the caller that we in fact do not deliver cats to your home for purchase.
Pulling up on a cat carrier in a ditch and hoping if there is in fact anything in it, it’s still alive.
Not being able to document a cruelty case because a samaritan decided to leave food and water an hour before you showed up to take pictures, after you told them not to step foot on the property, and being publicly lynched by the same individual for “not doing anything”.
Not being able to prosecute an abuse case because all the witnesses “don’t want to get involved”, and being publicly lynched by the same individuals for “not doing anything”.
Telling people you will be right there and to just keep an eye on it, and they still kill it before you get there.
When the owner of a surrendered dog that just killed two other animals asks your permission to grab a sperm sample before you euthanize it because they want puppies.
When an owner asks you to “grab the testicles from the garbage can” after surgery because they didn’t realize what “neuter” actually meant. And they want puppies.
Being told on a regular, sometimes daily basis by the same public you serve and protect that you are the scum of the earth, a waste of human life, a useless piece of garbage that deserves to be jailed, tortured, killed, or blown up, because you’ve done a part of your job that they don’t understand.
That’s enough for now…
I am sorry for what your facility is going through right now. I have dealt with the same in the past and it was stressful and heart breaking for me. We got through it and you will too. There will be tears and frustration but never forget that the animals need you. As you said not everyone can do this job. It takes a merciful heart and a strong will to be the dust pan of society. Hold your head high knowing that you are needed and appreciated.
Well thank you Miss Sharon 🙂 We are all one in the same. So many may never understand who we are and what we do, here’s to changing one mind at a time 🙂
“Not being able to document a cruelty case because a samaritan decided to leave food and water an hour before you showed up to take pictures, after you told them not to step foot on the property, and being publicly lynched by the same individual for “not doing anything”.”
I have more and more respect for you and all ACOs each and every day.