Apathy and Animal Shelters

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Well-Known Member
Jun 8, 2005
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I don't like to dwell on the topic of apathy because all it does is depress me, but tonight I will be speaking against it publicly. I'm hoping you guys can give me some feedback (and also that venting here will help me to keep my cool later). A warning though--this just may be my longest topic yet.

I think it's safe to say that here on the forum we of all people know that animal over-population has become a serious issue. Combine that with a total lack of a sense of responsiblity in the people creating this problem, and things are looking pretty grim. Just last week a shelter in a neighboring county reported that they will likely have to close soon due to a serious lack of funding. I can't tell you how sad news like that makes me, but now my own community is bullying one of our private rescues.

I'm not 100% on the specifics, but here's a general rundown... A couple years ago the founder of the rescue died and left her estate for the continuation of the rescue. Prior to that the woman had been filing for a badly needed facility expansion. A small handful of her neighbors had been trying to prevent the expansion but apparently didn't have much recourse as the woman and her rescue had been there longer than them. Because it took the new directors nearly a year to take over the original site, the neighbors are now trying to argue that it is no longer protected by grandfather laws. Furthermore, the area has seen significant development in the last couple years so that the number of plaintiffs has now grown from three households to approximately 20.

Obviously a privately funded rescue does not have a great deal of money to be throwing around in court. The final decision on whether they can expand their current facilities will be made next week. In the meantime, the rescue directors have been looking for a larger and more suitable property in an area where they will face less resistance. Apparently no such area exists.

More than a year ago in an effort to help, Joyce, Mo and I viewed a property outside city limits to determine if it would be suitable for their needs, the idea being that if it was Joyce would supply the deficit of money needed for them to get their new property. At the time, the property was newly empty and needed a lot of work. However, as the date of the rescue's case nears, they are getting more and more desparate to find a new home (ironic huh that even the sanctuary for excess animals is unwanted). This property is well outside the city in a part industrial, part agricultural area. Also on the road is a storage facility, a waste removal service, an empty junk yard, and a manufacturing plant. What could these businesses possibly have against an animal shelter right?

Wrong. The owner of the manufacturing plant has implied that building the shelter there would deter future businesses. Because dogs and cats are such an eyesore when compared to waste removal services I guess. Mind you the property has been available for over a year and there are two other properties that have long been available on that road. Well the plant owner has some pull, and the building commission denied the shelter's request to build a facility there. It was suggested that they build instead in the industrial park (where single acre lots sell for as much as $100,000 or more). But a quick glance at the rules for building in the industrial park show that it will accept no businesses that require the permanent housing of animals.

It's clearly a case of NIMBY (not in my back yard), and acknowledging the heartless nature of some people quite frankly brings me to frustrated tears. While we as individuals may not have created this problem, our community has, and I just can't understand why we aren't willing to stand up and do what's right. The rescue's doing the hard part, how can anyone justify resisting their self-funded efforts?

Tonight they are hosting an open city council meeting, after which the council will vote on whether or not to overturn the commission's decision. If they do not, we are going to offer the necessary acreage from our own land. The only issue of course is that as many of you know the area around us has also been developed, and we worry the rescue will face the same resistance from those home owners as it does from the ones near its current location.

Why does our world make it so hard to do good?
Tiff, your post mad me so mad at people. Not that I have a high regard for people anyhow
I do so hope this all works out in the end. Karma will come back on those that tried to hinder this. At least I hope so.
:arg! AAAARRRRRRGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where do these people think all of the strays and homeless animals are going to??????? (Gee.........do I see a magic wand somewhere?)

And you can BET they will be the FIRST to COMPLAIN when a stray animal ends up in their yard!

Time to pull out the MEDIA..........Get the "closet" Animal Lovers aware of things. And let your City or County Counsel know you are GOING TO THE MEDIA FOR HELP! Muuuaaahhhaaaa............ (Public officials HATE that.)

And be sure to point out that wandering homeless domestic animals are a health risk and taking care of them humanely is a public service requirement!

Oh, and here's another point.......If your problem hits the Media........eventually some radicals may read about it (ie. PETA?) You can also mention that one, because that is another can of worms public officials do NOT want to have to deal with.

Yep.......Time for the "Big Guns"..........
Good luck with your meeting, the more public you can have in your corner the better. I run a non profit clinic & shelter, it is one of the hardest jobs I have ever had. The more room we build for sheltering, the faster it fills up. There is simply not enough adopters for all the unwanted pets out there. We even work hard to get grants to offer free spay neuter & were only able to fill 19 of the 40 spots before the time limit ran out. We have just completed our new shelter wing to bring in more pets from our pound, but each trip over there breaks my heart when I can only take a few at a time.

Show to the committees that you have specific goals, you will have to be a limited admission to stay in business. Long term pets that are not adopted will bring down the business & take up room.

Show that you have community support, volunteers & workers ready to help out

Show that you have funding, everyone worries about the $$$

Show that you are filling a need

Most of all, show that through donations you can save the taxpayers money because they dont have to pay for taking care of all the pets that you are taking on. That always seems to convince them...

Good Luck!!
Sorry I didn't post the results last night, but honestly I came home exhausted. We got to the council meeting, found the rescue's contingent and gave them our support, then settled in to wait until we could have our say. I have to admit I bristled just a little when the mayor told us to "make it brief." I did make it brief, but I couldn't resist commenting on the shameful nature of the NIMBY politics that our community has been engaging in. I didn't see it, but I guess when I made that comment one of the aldermen had a good chuckle (one of my friends later told me that they caught it on the televised feed). The coward that opposed the shelter at the commission meeting last week didn't even show up.

There were five items for consent and the planning commission's request that the council oppose the building permit for the shelter was fifth, but the aldermen voted to bring it forward for discussion first. I thought for sure it meant they were siding with the commission, but the first comment was something along the lines of, "I don't understand the logic behind the commission's recommendation to oppose this shelter at all, and I move that we consent to approve their request."

You could cleary see the confusion among the rescue people. They were so sure they were going to face another uphill battle, but instead the city council unanimously overturned the commission's recommendation. YIPPEE!


Thursday the same group will go before the county board then back to the council for a final vote. Keep your fingers crossed (and thanks for your support everybody)!
That's great news that council approved it at this stage; hopefully the next votes will go the right way too.

I was going to suggest that perhaps this rescue could consider doing what our local rescue does--our local rescue has no facilities at all, but they do care for dozens of animals. How? By placing them in foster homes. The rescue pays for all expenses (food, veterinary care) but the animals are housed with various families all over this area. It seems to work very well, and it's actually quite amazing how many foster homes there are.
This is VERY good news!

Minimor has a good point about foster homes for animals........ Our area has both a no-kill shelter (they work closely with various rescues for purebred dogs and cats) AND they have a strong foster care program for when the shelter gets full. My daughter and I volunteer at the shelter once a week and I'm very impressed with how things are managed.
Ok - I see both sides of the fence and after I tell you this maybe this will help you.

We live very close to an animal shelter - in fact it is down the hill and up the road just a little.

I can tell you why some people may be fighting you over this and I CAN SEE WHY! Also, here are some things you need to think about. I am just going from my experience with our shelter. If you can handle this, then maybe you can explain it in the meeting and let them know you are aware of the problem and have a plan ready on how you plan to deal with it.

I support animal shelters - I don't like living by them. That is why I said I am on both sides of the fence. I hope this will HELP you.

1) Our shelter is a no kill shelter - so, our shelter is constantly running out of room.

2) You will be amazed at the people that will drop off cats and dogs in the middle of the night - because our shelter charges $40.00 to leave an animal there.

3) If our shelter is full they will NOT take these animals in.

4) So, what happens - they end up on our hill looking for food. Then we end up feeding them and then trying to find homes for them.

5) Some are very nice dogs - those are the ones me and my mother in law have either took in OR helped find homes for.

6) Or these dogs start to form a pack - Over the years I have had 4 miniatures KILLED from a pack of dogs. We know they started at the animal shelter down the hill because we would see them. But, they were too mean to handle.

7) We have had to shoot mean dogs that have showed up on our property.

8) Two weeks ago I was trapped INSIDE my OWN HOME because someone had dropped off a mean dog.

9) I had to call the police station.

10) Where we live we do not have a animal control officer - do you?

11) Oh, and I forgot to say - we have lived up here 13 years and the shelter knows the problems we have faced with these animals that are dropped off. If we try to take these animals to the shelter they try to charge us $40.00 - that is WRONG in my eye's. They are very aware of the problem with the dogs being dropped off - they also know we have had animals killed. It does not matter to them that these dogs are not ours. They still will NOT take the dog or cat - mostly dogs unless we pay $40.00.

I hope this has helped prepare for your meeting.

I also support shelters it is the " people" that will not take responsibilities for their own animals that upset me.

I hope this helps you understand why some people are " against" the shelter and I hope you have a plan to keep this from happening to other people. Maybe then you would have more support.

I meant this post to be helpful - I hope you take it that way.
Oh I feel your pain and congratulate you on your community's victory!

I am a proud and passionate member of our our local animal rescue agency - check us out at www.wesavepets.com!

We are 100% donation ran and almost 100% volunteer run. We free lease a barn that we made into the shelter, we have only one more year of the lease and have been trying for the last 3 years to put the funds together to buy our own property - we've got quite the committment from people to make monthly mortgage payments when we do find the right property. We've had a couple of chances with properties that are in a great location, but we've also encountered the NIMBY problem (even though we are trying to stay a mile or so from any homes). At least one property we bid on was bought at an outrageously high price to keep it out of our hands
. Pretty upsetting, to say the least. Out of the people that oppose us - I sincerely doubt any of them have ever even visited our facility. We do tremendous good in our community - previously dogs were held for 3 days at the pound and if not claimed, they were euthanized. Cats didn't even get a 3 day chance. We also spay/neuter/vaccinate everything that crosses our paths, even those that aren't fond of animals should find that to be a public service!

We do get some discounts from wonderful local veterinarians, and we get grants as well. We've done a lot with so little. We've also gotten the media involved on several occasions and have gone to the local city councils, but we don't have a lot of support from those in power. We are a farming community and most folks don't see a need for us.

VERY frustrating!

Oh, we also have several foster families - but those are usually full along with our shelter.
I am starting to wonder if our shelter is even legal. Everyone makes it sounds so good and easy. Why is our shelter a pain?

Our shelter does NOT even spay and neuter which I think is ridiculous. They give a certificate to the person that buys the dog or cat for a discount at our local vets office.

Ok - I don't know - I am sure most of the people that go to the shelter use the certificate or they would not go to the shelter to start with. But, I am thinking - not everyone does - so, out the door goes another animal that is NOT spayed or neutered.
I am starting to wonder if our shelter is even legal. Everyone makes it sounds so good and easy. Why is our shelter a pain?
Our shelter does NOT even spay and neuter which I think is ridiculous. They give a certificate to the person that buys the dog or cat for a discount at our local vets office.

Ok - I don't know - I am sure most of the people that go to the shelter use the certificate or they would not go to the shelter to start with. But, I am thinking - not everyone does - so, out the door goes another animal that is NOT spayed or neutered.

Oh, there is NOTHING easy about running an animal shelter, or even volunteering at one on a consistent basis. I work a full-time job and 2 part-time jobs and travel quite a distance from my home to work. But I still find time to volunteer there and try to make positive change whenever I can. I don't agree wtih everything that goes on at our shelter, but I'm a valued volunteer and my ideas are listened to.

Maybe try to get involved there and see what you can do to make some positive change and find out more info. It's a miracle that we have the money to spay/neuter everything that comes through our doors, but somehow by the skin of our teeth we always have made it - so far. Not every shelter can afford it - maybe the local vets aren't willing to work with them and discount prices, I'm guessing if they could spay/neuter they would. There is an incredible amount of heartache that goes along with animal rescue. I'd give anything to stop the animal overpopulation problem, and I think most people in rescue feel the same way.

We have the same concerns with possible drop-offs. We deal with it the best we can, which is by trying to have someone on site at all times - not easy because there surely is a lack of good volunteers in this world. Everyone always has some reason why they can't take the time to help out.

In the meantime, we've saved hundreds of animals lives, and for all the heartache and problems we've had to endure, it's been worth it.
Lisa, I wouldn't laugh at that. There are many ways to contribute to an animal shelter other than direct care. I also do fundraising, assistance with grant applications when asked, and I do almost all the adoption application screenings for dogs, most of which is done online and by phone.

Don't see yourself short because you have a fear of large dogs.

I generally do direct care for about 14 dogs by myself. If someone came along like you who had a fear of large dogs but wanted to volunteer, that could easily be arranged. I would walk out of the shelter with a small dog, and ask the person to take them on a walk for me and give them some 1:1 attention. Would be of great benefit to me, that dog, and other dogs at the shelter that I could then focus more on that night. On occasion we have pitbulls at our shelter, one of our volunteers was initially frightened of them, so someone else always took care of the pitbulls when she worked. In time, she got over her fear of pitbulls. I'm glad, but it would have been fine with me if she hadn't, she was/is still a huge asset to our volunteer staff.

There is also ALWAYS cleaning that needs to be done. So one can do direct care without working directly with the animals.

Sorry for getting off topic. Just something I feel pretty passionate about, and volunteering is so GOOD for people!!

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