I would like to respond to the view Barry Horton put in the paper on June 30.
He stated that irresponsible people dropped litters of animals at his home because they were too cowardly to "knock them in the head." Why do you consider this a "humane" way to rid one of unwanted animals? I do agree, however, that the persons doing this are irresponsible. Spaying and neutering is the answer to this problem and we encourage anyone with pets to do just that.
I invite anyone to come and spend two weeks working with us at our shelter and see what we see. I could give you incidents that would make your hair stand on end, and your stomach churn. Just last week, somebody threw a trash bag with three small puppies out over a bridge, hoping they would drown. One died instantly and a fisherman had to put a bullet in the head of a second one because a stiff weed went completely through the puppy's neck, and it was gasping for air and gurgling blood. The third lucky pup lived through the ordeal and is now in a happy home. Another incident, just last week, a six-week-old puppy was thrown out of a moving vehicle on BB Highway because the owner didn't have the guts to bring it to the shelter. Thankfully, it survived and is now in a loving home.
Other instances include a breeder who brought in two AKC-registered German Shepherd puppies because they weren't quite the "breeding stock" they were used to selling. Then there are the disturbing stories of a litter of kittens thrown in a dumpster to starve to death, or the cat set on fire with lighter fluid at a park right here in Sikeston, and the cat whose ears were cut off with a pair of scissors. Where are the parents when their children do these despicable acts to animals? Could it also be the parents are teaching the children that it is acceptable to torture a living creature and showing them how to do it? Several respected studies report that serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and others began their horrific careers by torturing and killing animals.
People continually bring us litter after litter because they don't want to spend the money to have their animals altered. Recently, a dog owner brought us their animal so full of heartworms, coughing and gasping for air, it seemed to be begging for relief. Of course, the pet owner tells us they just don't have the heart to "kill" her so they leave it up to us. Heartworm preventive is readily available at any veterinarian clinic.
It is very upsetting for persons to come in and say they have yet another litter of pups and say, "They are so cute. I know you can adopt them instead of killing them." First of all, my staff and I refuse to take responsibility for "killing" the animals. It is the irresponsible pet owners who "kill" the animals. We don't "hit them in the head." We euthanize them humanely and with as little pain as possible. Most of our animals see more love in the weeks that they are here than they have seen in their short lives.
As far as our fees, yes, there is an $80 adoption fee for a dog and a $55 adoption fee for a cat. However, that includes their first shots and worming, an office visit and exam to the vet. We also give a helpful gift pack, a $10 gift certificate from Market Place and include the spay and neuter cost. No animal leaves the shelter without being spayed or neutered. The vets in the area give us a discount, but trust me, we don't make any money from adoptions. Our cost per animal is approximately $50 per day. There is an adoption questionnaire which must be filled out and, yes, we do verify that the applicants are good pet owners. Why in God's name would we place an animal into a situation that is as bad or worse than the one they just came out of? Owning a pet is a privilege, not a right. If you can't afford the adoption fee, you can't afford to properly care for an animal. We work with people any way we can to get a good, loving home for our animals, not just a place to be mistreated and bred over and over. They didn't ask to be put on this earth any more than kids who are thrown out to fend for themselves.
A good pet owner, just like a good parent, takes care of their "kids." Just as you can insure your family, pet insurance is available for approximately $7 per month. A good pet owner's animal is part of the family, not something you throw scraps to in the back yard or forget to feed and water.
The shelter is funded mainly through donations from the public. We do not get help from the government or the Humane Society of the United States. All humane societies are separate entities and rely heavily on public support. Humane society staffs everywhere have a type of syndrome similar to war veterans and it is known as "compassion fatigue syndrome." It is very difficult for the staff to pick daily those who are to be killed and many times must assist with the killing. It is also very painful to see on a daily basis the pain and injury inflicted on these innocent creatures.
Have you ever seen the results of an animal that has been used for fighting all of its short life? How would you feel if you saw a 4-month-old puppy with a wire growing in its neck because a potential serial killer wanted to see how tight he could get it, without literally cutting off the puppy's head?
We need the public to realize that animals do feel pain and respond to love and care. They need to be taken care of just like the rest of your family. If you can't afford to take proper care of an animal, then you don't need one.
We would love nothing more than to go out of business because this area has run out of unwanted animals. Do you have any clue how long it would take for pack animals to take over this area if we weren't in business? However, as long as there are irresponsible animal owners, we will continue to house over 2,000 animals a year.
Two cats in seven years produce over 120,000 kittens. Cats can produce three litters in the time it takes a dog to produce one. Cats can get pregnant while nursing the litter they just had. Two dogs, in seven years, can produce over 80,000 puppies.
Do the math! That is why we are overflowing with animals all the time, and "hitting them in the head" is not the answer. Spaying and neutering is the solution. Responsible pet owners are the answer. Properly caring for your companion animal is key. Please have your family pets spayed and neutered and get regular veterinarian care for your animals.
For God's sake, people, wake up and smell the litter!
Gabby Evans, executive director Sikeston Area Humane Society