One Monday last January I was walking out to my car in the parking lot here at HAWS, and I saw something moving behind my wheel. It was small and initially I thought it was a cat. As I got closer I realized it was a puppy.
She tentatively came out from behind the wheel of my car and I picked her up. The temperature that day was only 17 degrees and she was shivering. I shoved her under my jacket and ran her back inside. We ended up calling her Roo -- short for Subaru.
Roo was lucky that I happened to go out to my car at 3:30 in the afternoon while it was still light out, rather than 5:30 when I would leave for the day. Had she been able to survive for another two hours it's likely that I would have either run her over with my car, or just plain never noticed her, leaving her to freeze to death. She ended up being adopted by a family -- a very lucky puppy indeed.
A few weeks ago someone brought in two boxes of rabbits that she found at a local park. There were 6 adult rabbits, and 2 babies -- so tiny that they looked like blind, hairless mice. The two babies didn't survive.
Recently several cages of rats were brought in. A guy came back from vacation only to find that his roommate had moved out but hadn't bothered to take his pets with him.
Last week we got a call from a local store -- there was a domestic rabbit running around their parking lot, and they were afraid it would get hit by a car. They requested that HAWS come out to get it.
All of these animals were abandoned by the very people who were supposed to be taking care of them. And these are probably the lucky animals. We really don't know how many abandoned pets DON'T survive.
Animals who have been raised to rely on humans for their every need generally don't have the survival skills to make it in our world. They risk starvation, getting hit by cars, attacked by other animals or succumbing to the weather or illness. I would guess that most die a horrible death.
One of the reasons HAWS was created was to provide a sancturary for animals who had no place else to go. I'm always in awe at the professional demeanor of our adoption staff; when taking in adopted animals they are very non-judgemental and try to make it as easy as possible for people who can longer take care of their pets, or just plain no longer want them. No matter what the reason for surrender, I have never heard them berate someone giving up their pet.
While giving up an animal may be emotionally difficult, or just plain embarressing -- the best thing for the animal is to ensure that they are given to someone who can care for them properly and keep them safe. If the only options are abandonment or facing your fears by bring them to a shelter, then please do the right thing for your pet and bring them to the shelter. Not only can you give your pet the final gift by doing the right thing, you can also give us information that will allow us to find the right home.