Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Letters to the Editor

June 19, 2014

Animal shelter director responds to letters

GALLATIN — Editor’s Note: This letter is longer than our normal guidelines allow. However, the topic has been a much-voiced concern in the community. Therefore, it will be published as the length it was submitted.

The Klein Animal Shelter provides housing to animals in need from all across East Texas.  We strive to re-home these animals through the public and by working with rescue groups.

Each animal’s needs are different. Every home is different. In order to find the right match, potential adopters must complete an application, interview, and interaction process with their dog or cat choice.

However, during this process we sometimes encounter situations where the desires of the adoption applicant conflict with the best interests of the animal.  When this happens, our first priority is to the animal, and unfortunately, that means some adoptions must be denied.

Mr. Hall’s adoption was denied due to lack of safe containment.

By his own admission, Mr. Hall stated that we were “concerned that he lost a few kittens” -- and he is absolutely correct.  The fact that many of his cats “wandered off or were taken by predators” is a major red flag. A person can provide the best living situation an animal could want but if they are left to roam it is only a matter of time before tragedy strikes.

There were containment concerns with Mr. McGee’s adoption request as well, but he was not denied. We asked him to bring his current dog for a visit to see if the two dogs will get along. We do this not only to ensure the safety or our animal but to also ensure that the new pet will not have issues with children or other animals already in the household.  The last thing we want to see happen is for someone to take an animal home and have children and/or pets get injured in an altercation with the new family dog or cat. Mr. McGee’s adoption is still pending while we await that visit. We’ve also asked him for assurance that he can provide containment for the new dog.

These requirements may seem to discourage adoptions, but in contrast, they help to identify the best adoptive homes and ensure that these animals live long and healthy lives with their new families. These measures also cut down on adoption returns. It would be tragic to have these animals re-enter our shelter because we did not practice due diligence in our re-homing process.

As to Mrs. Wheeler’s letter, we understand her sentiment and agree that we cannot prevent every tragedy. However, when certain risks are easily identifiable, it would be highly irresponsible for us to ignore those known issues and place an animal in situations where the odds are not in their favor.  I find her statement that a cat “would rather die in the jaws of a coyote …. than at the tip of a needle” very unsettling.  For a domestic animal to be attacked by a predator is an excruciating trauma and should never be considered a preferred passage from this world.  It would be similar to someone dying as a result of aggravated assault versus a drug-induced sleep.  

Which leads us to a common misconception:  We’ve often heard comments that ANY adoption – even a risky one -- is better than certain death. Apparently, those that make these comments believe that by denying an adoption, we are signing that animal’s death warrant. That is exceedingly unfair and completely inaccurate. We routinely screen several – even dozens – of applicants for the same cat or dog before finding the right fit. For some, this process takes many months, even years (see our Lonely Hearts Club members) while awaiting the right family.

Honestly, we would love to see the day when a facility such as ours is no longer needed, because no shelter, however well-staffed or appointed, is a good place for companion animals for any length of stay. But a shelter that provides secure housing, humane treatment and food and water is a better alternative to the fates – vehicular injury, predation, poisoning and a myriad of others -- that await animals allowed to roam.

Our goal is to find lifelong, caring and safe homes for these animals. If we determine that a potential adoption carries risks for the animal, we will choose to wait on the next adoper.

Angela Wallace

Executive Director of Klein Animal Shelter

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