Turning no animal away

Town Lake Animal Shelter takes in every creature, but not every creature taken in leaves, at least not alive. I’ve always known that Austin, perhaps because of its large transient population of students, has a high rate of pet abandonment (or, as I learned today that some call it, pet relinquishment), but I never realized how serious things are. Today’s Sunday NYT magazine focuses on TLAC and efforts by animal behaviorists to screen dogs, hoping to learn more about their temperaments and what factors make them good (or bad) candidates for adoption (“New Tricks,” byline Charles Siebert).

We have never left an animal with TLAC, although we have sought lost-dog and -cat information there. It’s our practice to keep a lost dog or cat and do our best to find its home, which so far we’ve always accomplished (at least for dogs; cats have not always been claimed), although we stand willing to make a home ourselves (this has been known to happen with cats) if we’re unsuccessful in finding the right one. We have never set out to take home a dog or a cat deliberately, although somehow along the way we’ve shared lives with Mack, Brownie, Ms. Prrrrrp, Spike, Mothra, and Samson. One was dropped on us, one was abandoned, one had been physically kicked around and badly injured, one was scavenging in the trash and followed me home, one peeked in from the windowsill outdoors until the weather was too cold to leave things like that, and one was cadging from several households as it turned out and also receiving multiple vaccinations and other veterinary treatments but the other sharers moved away one household at a time and we were left. We seem lately to have acquired at least a time-share interest in one Ponder Lee.

I had never realized that the Animal Center has a sort of anonymous foundling system, allowing people to drop off the unwanted in unattended enclosures, even in the middle of the night. On the Web site, these are called “Night Drop-Off” cages. The feature tells us not just more about the Animal Center and how it operates but also about the Animal Personality Institute at UT (Diane Mollaghan is the API affiliate whose work is spotlighted in the article). This is only the second time that the API has come to my attention; the first was via a KLRU documentary feature (clips are available). Responsible guardianship keeps the helpless from ever entering this system; it’s to be hoped that the work described in the feature will enable more to leave it alive and live a long and contented existence.

2 Comments so far

  1. MMtyler (unregistered) on April 9th, 2007 @ 10:10 am

    I volunteered at the Humane Society, and they were very clear that they could be a “no-kill” shelter only because another facility stood ready to be the “turn no animal away” shelter. It’s a gruesome responsibilty, and it’s amazing what they do. I’m too soft hearted to volunteer there, but I’m especially proud of the TLAC volunteers who take some of the adoptable dogs for runs around the lake with “Adopt Me” jackets on!

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on April 9th, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

    I was really ashamed of the abandonment statistics; no wonder the adoptive process is so intricate. If only all the irresponsibles could be weeded out. It’s always very troubling that so many people don’t invest in tags; they’re very helpful when the finder is trying to locate the household of the lost.

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