Saturday, December 4th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


I speak so often of animal rescue not so everyone will know about it, but with the hope that everyone will become involved in it. It takes so much more than a shelter to save animals. It takes Good Samaritans who stop to help animals in need, who speak up against neglect. It takes volunteers, donors, transporters, fosterers, adopters, advocates.

Rescuers still struggle so desperately to save lives because our society isn't fulfilling these roles. Every one of us can play a vital part, often through the smallest acts. My own journey in animal rescue began in 2008 when I was 11 years old and raised money for my local shelter. I became a volunteer and began walking dogs with my mom every weekend. This inspired my ongoing employment of nearly four years in animal rescue. There was so much I didn't know about shelters when I began-but the more I learned, the more I wanted to help.

Rescuers encounter countless individuals who don't care to know or do better, but there are also many who unknowingly lack the information to make better choices. There is so much misinformation pertaining to shelter animals and animal care in general, from the notion that shelter animals are somehow "broken" or inferior to far too prevalent breed prejudices or failing to recognize the importance of vital veterinary care like heartworm prevention. Overpopulation is the main reason shelters are brimming with unwanted animals-yet people still breed their pets irresponsibly, as if they aren't taking homes away from those already cramming shelter cages. So many animals facing euthanasia are not sick, injured, old, or aggressive. The euthanasia of healthy animals across the world is something we need to start talking about. The fact that shelters forced to euthanize are often vilified is a primary example of how deeply misunderstood this crisis is. Those on the frontlines are not the ones who failed these creatures, yet they still bear the burden of comforting them during their final moments.

It takes Good Samaritans
who stop to help animals in need,
who speak up against neglect.
It takes volunteers, donors, transporters,
fosterers, adopters, advocates

Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as having said, "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." If that is right, then perhaps the reprehensible state of companion animal welfare reflects the prejudice, violence, and division pervading our country. If we cannot be humane towards one another, how can we honor and deserve God's creatures? For the past decade, I have been amazed and moved by the affectionate and forgiving nature of shelter animals-of the pit bulls and other stereotyped breeds so many people needlessly fear, of the dogs and cats that have suffered abuse and abandonment without losing faith in people. The souls in our nation's animal shelters are not the problem and responsibility of only those shelters. These animals belong to all of us, and it is up to all of us to save or fail them together.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.