If Our First Priority Is Animals, Why Do We Turn So Many Away?

We absolutely stand behind our statement that the animals are our number one focus and our primary concern. But if we are full, we are full. Our concern for the animals already in our care has to remain paramount. Overcrowding leads to the spread of disease, kennel stress and kennel aggression, and many other very undesirable conditions. We simply cannot sacrifice the health and well-being of the animals we’ve already committed to caring for in order to take in others. Tazewell ARC is not a shelter, but specifically, we are not an open admission shelter. We are not obligated to intake every–or any–animal presented to us.

Particularly infuriating are the people who arrive on our private property unannounced, dogs in tow, expecting us to bail them out because suddenly the animal they’ve committed to has become an inconvenience. These are animals who are not in immediate peril, who could and should be maintained in the home with that owner, who have no business landing in rescue or a shelter taking up a space that could be used by a starved stray or a dog on the kill list of a local pound with only hours to live. Yet because the owner suddenly realized twenty four hours beforehand that they have to move, or that they have grandchildren, or whatever other reason they come up with to justify dumping their pet, they expect us to rush in to help and be thrilled for the opportunity.

A factor we must consider before intake is quarantine and expense. Most of the same people who arrive unannounced with dogs in tow haven’t darkened the door of a veterinarian’s office for years. . .maybe ever. So here is an unsterilized, unvaccinated animal tracking God knows what diseases across our footbridge and into our soil, putting every other animal who comes here at risk. Dogs with no vaccinaion history must be quarantined for a fourteen day minimum, on a non-porous surface with no chance of exposure to other animals. If there are no isolation kennels available, forget it. We won’t risk exposing our established residents to the threat of contagion.

Furthermore, every new intake has to be vetted. For unspayed, unneutered dogs with no vaccine history, we’re talking an average $200 per dog to prepare them for adoption or transport. (This provides sterilization, vaccines, heartworm test, deworming, flea treatment, and microchip.) It is our firm belief that THE OWNER should take responsibility for this expense, not the rescue. Rescues are not the neighborhood cleanup crew, nor are they the “easy out” for people looking to shirk responsibility. If you absolutely must dump your pet, do the right thing and pony up for expenses. Don’t expect a non-profit rescue to cover the cost for you.

Entirely different are the cases of Good Samaritans trying to help an animal who staggered onto their property hungry, cold, and terrified. We make every effort to help those people and those animals, although sometimes overcrowding issues simply make it impossible.

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