Heartbreaker

Curious Gruesome Fact: Approximately 1,200 dogs and cats die in the Mecklenburg County shelter EVERY MONTH. That’s 300 pets per week, 43 pets a day. Every month. All year. Innocent creatures, pointless deaths. Those statistics are available publicly here:

http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/CMPD/organization/Support/AnimalControl/FindUs/Pages/Statistics.aspx

That does not count dogs and cats euthanized in the surrounding counties, whose numbers are equally horrifying. That’s just Charlotte/Mecklenburg.

Now I know I’m preaching to the choir here, because I’m sure you all spay and neuter your pets. But not everyone does, and that is why more than a thousand dogs and cats in my county end their lives in a wretched, frightening shelter each month.

Yesterday I dropped by the shelter, which is less than a mile from our house, to donate some rags and a dog basket. I had to take the children with me, which was unfortunate because of course they wanted to look at the animals. Which always breaks my heart.

And there was this unbelievably adorable gray & white kitten in one cage who desperately wanted to be picked up and held. Everett called her “My Cute Nora” (Nora is his name for our cat, Inara).

I had just dropped Inara at the vet that morning for spay surgery, and agonized over having to leave here there, even knowing she would be coming back home again. So it was with an especially strong pang that I had to walk away from that tiny, innocent, trusting creature knowing that the most likely path for her would not involve ever stepping outside the shelter again.

Everett, in his own blissful innocence, has no conscious idea of what happens to 83% of the cats in the shelter. Nevertheless, his piercing scream was heartbreaking as we left and he begged with tears to “bring home my cute Nora.”

I don’t know what can be done to fix this problem, but it’s a problem that really must be fixed if we are to consider ourselves a humane civilization. Which is perhaps a bit much to ask, but a task I’m game for anyway. Many states in the U.S. have managed to fix the problem to the point that rescue organizations in the Carolinas regularly transport rescued animals into those states, where they’re wanted. Combinations of inexpensive spay/neuter programs and aggressive public education campaigns seem to be part of the answer in those areas.

If it’s a problem you’d like to see fixed, look up the statistics for your county, and start sharing them with friends. Pass this information around. Maybe if folks can see the impact of their decision to let their cat have “just one” litter of kittens or choose to let their unneutered dog roam the neighborhood, maybe they’ll stop.

And if anyone wants the world’s cutest most adorable gray and white kitten, she’s no longer listed at the shelter. I tell myself she was probably one of the lucky few–cute and affectionate, who could pass her up? But there are dozens of others there waiting.

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