Animal Shelters Across Southwestern Virginia
“Where do I take my pet when I can’t care for them any longer?” “Where can I easily adopt a pet?” “Where do I take a stray pet I’ve rescued but can’t keep?”
All the above questions will eventually lead an inquisitive mind to one of the many shelters scattered across Southwestern Virginia. From PAWS to AdoptAPet to the ASPCA, there are dozens of caring, no-kill shelters and adoption services that help people both find pets to adopt, and to aid those who have rescued a pet in finding it a suitable — if temporary — home. Yet not all shelters are as humane as they seem, and conditions in many shelters across the area have elicited concern from several pets’ rights activist groups, as well as government officials. Dozens of shelters put down animals when the overcrowding becomes too great, or if the animal is deemed too old or sick to find a suitable adoption candidate. However, the main issue in many shelters involves the sheer number of pets that need to be housed — and the nigh-impossibility of giving them the space they need.
The largest problem in shelters in the area is overcrowding. Dozens of pets are crammed into spaces far too tiny for them and given minimal food, water, and attention, making shelters a hotbed for illness, starvation, and general grime and filth that accumulates from the difficulty of caring for so many animals. Overburdened shelter workers, mostly volunteers with limited time, find it difficult to adequately care for the pets.
“The ASPCA reports every year approximately 7.6 million animals come into shelters nationwide, and only a little more than half make it out alive. There are numerous reasons for euthanizing the animals, but it’s euthanizing just to make room for more, that really shakes the animal loving community.” This comes from ABC 13 WSET, a news station dedicated to Southwestern Virginia areas such as Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Danville. In the article, the author Noreen Turyn describes how euthanasia is the most humane solution for pets who have nowhere else to go, and would otherwise be turned loose into the world because of the sheer overcrowding of the burgeoning shelters. Indeed, the author goes on to claim that “In Virginia last year, out of 224,368 dogs and cats that came into shelters, 44,218 were euthanized for various reasons, including among other things, health issues, aggression issues, and unfortunately, space.” For Turyn and the controversial animal-rights organization PETA — which has long been advocate of kind euthanasia, it is a humane way to end the suffering of animals. These organizations view such actions as a solution to the problems that overcrowded shelters stray animal populations face. But what happens when euthanasia does not solve the issues that plague shelters, and the conditions within stay just as poor as previously?
Shelters such as the Toronto Human Society serve as examples of terrible conditions for pets in an overcrowded, underworked scenario. “The “model” animal shelter was actually what one investigator called a “house of horrors” — a place where infections ran rampant, animals lived in filthy conditions, food was scarce and a no-euthanasia policy led to sick animals suffering and dying without adequate medical care.” This comes from NBC news as part of a report done on several arrests made at the shelter on criminal charges of animal cruelty resulting from gross neglect and mistreatment of animals.
Everyone must do their part to help overcrowding of shelters across Virginia, and the US as a whole. The conditions in which animals are kept in many shelters mimics that of many overcrowded situations with humans across the globe, and the same principles apply — that we must do our part to solve the problems which cause people and animals to be kept in uncomfortably close, dirty, cramped quarters with little food and even less care. There is a permanent solution to the issue of animal overpopulation and overcrowded shelters, and it lies in the willingness of men and women to adopt animals and care properly for them. Therefore, I urge you to adopt an animal from a shelter nearby, instead of buying from a pet store — where over-breeding is another issue entirely. Together, we can help ease the strain on shelters and animals both, and prevent animal neglect and cruelty. Adopt a pet today!