I worked in a hi-kill shelter in Philadelphia. People would bring in animals that we simply did not adopt out--ferrets, for example. We told the owners that when they left, we would euthanize their pet. We asked if they were sure, because there was NO chance that the pet would leave the facility alive. They frequently shrugged, cried, patted the animal & left it there.
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We cried too.
We euthanized pure bred and mixed breed animals, because no one adopted them. We euthanized cute kittens & puppies because there were HUNDREDS dumped every week on the doorstep. We killed Christmas presents, birthday gifts, Easter bunnies, Valentine's kittens. We euthanized perfectly healthy animals & animals that were sick because their owners never took care of them.
Too big, too small, new baby, moving, not aggressive enough, snapped at the neighbor, too furry, not enough time, chewed the furniture, jumped the fence, can't afford it, kid went to college, kid got a new dog, kid had a kid, mom is sick, pulls on the leash, new boyfriend is allergic, don't want it anymore... people have their pets put down for many reasons.
I have moved to 6 different states & and at least 8 times in the past 8 years (renting sucks). I have done this with a 100lb. dog, 1 or 2 cats (one is 19 years old & the other died 4 years ago at 17), pigeons and 3 goats. I have done this while working retail or food service jobs.
All of my pets are rescues.
I now only adopt from kill shelters.
The ONLY pet I have ever given up was a Jack Russell terrier. I purchased him from a backyard breeder when I was 23. He was also the only pet I ever bought. He went to a horse farm -- where JRTs belong.
What I've learned in 30 years of caring for animals:
My animals are not my children; they are not "little furry people," but they are sentient beings with whom I have a relationship & to whom I have a responsibility for the rest of their lives.
If you are going to take your beloved pet to a shelter in hopes of it finding a new home, do this instead:
Go to your vet. Explain that you can no longer keep or care for your animal and ask him/her to euthanize it while you hold it. It will save the shelter time, money & heartache & give your pet a chance to spend it's last moments in the arms of someone it loves and trusts. It will save you from blaming anyone but yourself for your animal's untimely end.
Thanks MHS & all other rescue orgs who are cleaning up after people who treat their pets like plastic crap from the mall. I know it's a hard job.