Sunday, 20 June 2010
Just when I thought things really couldn't get any worse, this week really hit rock bottom. Some of you may find the following hard going to read, but this is the reality of our work, and I make no apologies for it......
We've had two dogs in our care for a long time that we have not been able to rehome. In the main this has been because of their past history. One dog was condemned to live its life as a guard dog with little human interaction and deprived of such basic things as daylight, water and care. The other dog was beaten, used for breeding, and shown little respect. Without doubt their pasts having damaged them but so does the effects of kennelling. Quite simply, some dogs cope with being in kennels and others don't, and if there are pre-existing issues then this can often exacerbate their coping skills further.
Both dogs have sadly recently proven that under RSPCA policy they cannot be rehomed. The policy, which is about 'biting dogs', is in place to protect the public, staff and trustees alike and to try and avoid dogs being incarcerated in kennels long-term (because they can't find a home). And, if we are honest, would makes us no better, if we did keep them in kennels long-term, than many of the people we prosecute for keeping animals in similar ways.
Sadly the policy has proven too hard for some closely involved with the charity to cope with this week and we have seen key figures resign and opt out of decision making. It has been left to the remaining few to make the very difficult decision to accept that we simply cannot do any more to 'undo' the damage that other humans have done to them.
I want to say how much I admire those individuals who felt able to stand up for what truly was, in my opinion, in the best interest of these dogs. On Monday I will start my first lot of annual leave since last year taking two dogs to be put to sleep, but doing so in the knowledge that we are doing the right thing by them, by ending their suffering and letting them finally find some peace in this all too frequently dark world.
I also want to thank my staff, Catherine and Mel, for their unfaltering belief in what we do and their steadfast commitment to ensuring our animals live happy, healthy lives whilst in our care. I thoroughly believe that with our limited resources we do all we can to help the animals that come into our care but sometimes we fail, and I accept that failure nobly and will be the first to stand up and be counted.
I know that it is Society that has ultimately failed these dogs and I have come to accept that we can't 'win them all'. But sometimes I do despair because what hope have we got when we can't find homes for dogs that are so happy, healthy and wonderful like Nipper and Poppy above who have been with us 6 months without a spec of interest in them.
I am extremely lucky to work with such a strong and dedicated group of animal welfarists. I just hope that at some point everyone else who has struggled with this decision can come to terms with it and reconcile that sometimes we have to admit defeat and that those wavering individuals can take comfort in the fact that we successfully help hundreds of animals each year and that we are making a difference to animals' lives.
It's a cruel world and it can be a shit job but someone has to do it and I'm grateful that it's me.