Studies on the most thankless jobs in the US rank farmers, teachers, and military as the top three. Sadly, I have to agree that we do take for granted those that feed us, educate us, and protect us. So to kick off Thanksgiving week, I want to give a shout out to our farmers who we work together with to keep our food supply safe and abundant, to our teachers who prepare us to be productive citizens, and to all our military service men and women who protect us and our freedoms. Blessings to all of you!
Another thankless job that many do not think about, are those who care for the stray animals. We have many clients who take in stray pets and we always appreciate their big hearts. For those that do not know, Abilene Animal Hospital (AAH) is the holding facility for stray dogs in the City of Abilene and for Dickinson County. Neither the city nor the county have ordinances on cats, so we only receive cats when they are a nuisance or danger to our good citizens, not just because they are out roaming around. The City of Abilene and AAH, through a very generous private donation, have developed the Healthy Cats of Abilene which allows for stray cats to be temporarily captured so they can be spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies. This helps keep the population under control and makes it safer for the public to live in harmony with these animals.
Dogs, however, are another story. Both the city and the county have ordinances regarding dogs running at large. We receive dogs on a regular basis that have been lost, roaming, or abandoned. The first thing we do is try to identify whether the dog has an owner or not. Ideally, the dog has a microchip and we can easily identify the owner and return their dog to them immediately. If the dog has a collar with identification, we can also reunite the pet with its owner. When all of this fails, the dog is held in our kennel facility. If the dog is injured or in need of medical care, we will supply it.
The ordinance of the City of Abilene provides funds to feed and house the dog for five days. If no owner is found in that time period, the animal can either be adopted or humanely euthanized. I realize many of you do not like to hear that ANY animal is euthanized and I want to reassure you that we never take that decision lightly. Honestly though, some animals are simply not very adoptable; a dog with aggressive tendencies or a severe medical condition, for example. Others are difficult to place, such as very old dogs, dogs that are not house trained, or dogs that bark incessantly. Puppies and well-mannered adult dogs are certainly easier to place in loving homes.
Five days seems like a very short time. During that time, our staff is working hard to make sure that we make every effort to find the previous owner for the dog if there is one. We also treat the dog for fleas, bathe it, feed it, house it, and exercise it. We take the time to assess the dog's temperament so we can advise potential adopters about how the dog behaves. We need to know if it is potty trained, if it barks, if it knows even the most basic of obedience, and if it is healthy. If the original owner is not found, we keep a list of clients who are looking for a certain kind of pet. If the dog is a fit, the client is contacted. If that doesn't work, we might run an ad in the paper (through a generous donation from Holm Automotive!) or post a picture on Facebook. Every day the animal stays after the first 5 days (and actually only 3 days for the county dogs), the cost is on us. We have many clients and friends who give generously to our Adopt-A-Pet fund which is used to help defray the costs of keeping strays beyond their mandatory 5 day stay. We have a great network of friends, shelters, rescue agencies, etc... that often step in to help, which we greatly appreciate. Nearly everyone who works here has at least one pet too many and some of us are borderline crazy with the number of pets we love.
This Thanksgiving week, give special thanks to those who do the thankless jobs and of course, next time you are in the market for a pet, check with us first!