So last time in Volunteeering at the Austin Humane Shelter: Part 6, I talked about my move up to blue BRATT and the start of the year’s craziness which was that Bastrop Hoarding Event. And while that one event would have been enough to exhaust anyone, it was just the start of the absolute craziness that was 2011. We continue with the next big shelter drama, a rare occurrence but one that caused a lot of problems.
Early August: A Dog Gets Put Down
I mentioned in the original series that the Austin Humane Shelter is a no-kill shelter. That is, the shelter doesn’t put down dogs as a matter of course. In reality this means that dog euthanasia is kept to 10% or less; it’s also only done on a dog by dog basis. It’s never done for time (i.e. if a dog is at the shelter for too long) and it’s never done based on breed.
It generally only occurs when a dog is sick with no chance for recovery or has shown intractable behavior problems (usually aggression towards human) that make it unadoptable. If it can still be adopted, we will keep it until we find it a home. To put this in perspective, in the year and a half I’ve been at the Austin Humane Shelter, we’ve done several thousands of adoptions and in that time I can think of maybe a half dozen or so dogs that have been put down.
This number might be a bit higher due to something I’m going to talk about in the next part of this (bizarrely, as I write this, one of our long term residents, whose behavior had been worsening was put down) series. But it’s a rare enough event that I can remember most of them when they happen. Which probably puts the rate of euthanasia at around 1% or so. If that. I mean, a handful of dogs against thousands of adoptions.
But as part of the trauma of 2011 there was a specific situation worth mentioning. Earlier that year we had taken in three pit bulls rescued from a fighting ring. One was Xena who had been a breeding female. She was a beautiful dog who’s owners had botched her ear clipping and had ended up taking them off completely. Beyond that she was fairly well adjusted although the shelter wasn’t great for her. This is Xena and you can see the hatchet job her owners did with her ears.