Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It Happened Again

Yesterday I went to a local animal shelter to pick up a rabbit to bring into the rescue with which I volunteer, Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue. Most of the bunnies we have at our rescue come from this shelter, one of the largest in the Phoenix area and not affiliated with any governmental agency. Bunnies that they cannot keep because of health, behavioral or other issues (such as being too small to spay/neuter, which was the case with yesterday's bunny) and are deemed unadoptable (and therefore eligible for euthanasia) come to BHRR, literally for a second chance at life. The bunny I picked up and took away was a beautiful little black Satin mix, a tiny little girl under three pounds in weight. She is very healthy, friendly and curious and will make someone a wonderful companion. I suspect she may be the first of the Easter 2009 bunnies to come in, with I'm sure many more to follow.

To pick up the bunnies I must go in through their admissions area, where people surrender their animals to the shelter. It is an awful place, the air thick with sadness and broken promises, and I try my best to insulate myself from the overwhelmingly tragic atmosphere. I don't know how the employees work there but I'm starting to think that, out of necessity, they have a very highly developed capacity for ignoring everything and everyone around them and just focusing on the task they are doing at that moment, to the exclusion of all else. I used to think they were just incredibly rude but now I realize it is a defense mechanism, something that they need to protect themselves from the nearly-limitless cruelty and stupidity of the general public.

It is extremely sad to watch an animal being turned in, but sometimes I see something that deeply affects me. Yesterday a man was turning in his large, Dalmatian-mix dog. The dog sat in front of his owner, licking the man's hand and his knee as he filled out the paperwork to give his dog over to the shelter. There was a look of such love and trust on this dog's face - he had no idea of the nightmarish situation into which his owner is going to dump him. The sweet dog was completely unaware that he is going to be suddenly and permanently removed from the home he undoubtedly loved and thrust into a system of cold, empty cages, no playtime or recreation, crummy generic food and worst of all no family. Maybe his family had children that loved him and petted him and played with him every day. Maybe he just lived for the time he spent with his family each day, when he felt loved and secure and wanted. All that is over now, his whole world will change in the most drastic fashion imaginable, and his life will never be the same. I can't help wondering if somehow he blames himself for his family abandoning him. Maybe he thinks, I'm a good dog, I know I am. Why did this happen to me? I hope my family finds me and takes me back home, I'm not sure what is going on. And when they never show up for him, will he feel despair?

Maybe something good will happen to him. Maybe another family will come around and notice him and see what a good dog he is, and take him home to another family and another life, this time for good. Yeah, maybe that will happen. I know that the animal shelter does the best they can with an overwhelming, never-ending flood of unwanted, unloved animals. They try to care for the animals and give them their very small slice of love and attention amidst a huge, ever-increasing number of needy, deserving animals who come to them through no fault of their own.

But all I saw was a dog who had no idea what was going to happen to him, but still showed love and trust to his owner to the very last second. And that ripped my heart out and destroyed me for that day.

No comments:

Post a Comment