Sunday, September 16, 2012


There is a part of No Kill that really disturbs me and that is the one concerning owner surrenders. Sure we all know the occasional excuse that the pet didn't match the new sofa, but most of the time the reasons are quite different. Especially in this poor economy where people are losing their homes, their lives, and they are forced into surrendering their pets.

Rancho Cucamonga is a good study example of what happens when owners are turned away. When Rancho went No Kill, suddenly Rancho residents were showing at the surrounding shelters trying to surrender their pets because Rancho was turning them away. Of course, Rancho denied that but it was pretty obvious to everyone. Two news articles referred to the long lines waiting to surrender when No Kill was declared. These articles referred to pets being abandoned at the shelter as well. It is no coincidence that the number of public surrenders increased.

Public surrenders are when a good Samaritan picks up an animal off the streets and brings it to the shelter. Rancho's public surrenders increased dramatically after becoming No Kill. That means that owners were turning their pets in as strays in order to get the shelter to take them. These owners and pets were already traumatized but to make it worse is when the pet is left with no history - no name. How cruel can No Kill be to rob a pet of their name, a name that could help them survive better in the shelter. But this is what is happening with the No Kill shelters.

This story reminded me of this cruelty bestowed by the No Kill movement.

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I
attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.

See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too.
Maybe we were too much alike.

I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that. "Okay, Reggie," I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice."
____________ _________ _________ _________

To Whomever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. He knew something was different.

So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't
matter where you throw them, he'll bound after them, so be careful. Don't do it by any roads.

Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones ---"sit," "stay," "come," "heel."

He knows hand signals, too: He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand. He's up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. It's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially.

And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you...His name's not Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. But if someone is reading this ... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is "Tank." Because, that is what I drive.

I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter ... in the "event" ... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he
loved me.

If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me.

Thank you,

Paul Mallory
____________ _________ _________ _______
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver
Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.

"Hey, Tank," I said quietly.

The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.

"C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered.

His tail swished.

I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my
face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me." Tank reached up and licked my cheek.

"So whatdaya say we play some ball?" His ears perked again.

"Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?"

Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.


  1. There is a growing trend within the “No-Kill” movement to encourage the managed intake of owner surrendered animals. This concept basically requires shelters to turn away owner surrendered animals like Reggie or Tank, if another animal may have to be euthanized. The key here is there may be animals in the shelter that are clearly deemed “unadoptable” due to behavioral or other traits which simply make those animals less desirable to the general public. Many shelters will evaluate the animals within their care and then determine after a given period of time if the animal should be euthanized. “No-Kill” insists that all animals be warehoused indefinitely and shelters should turn away other animals in need. In many cases, a managed intake program is simply unrealistic due to the never ending supply of animals arriving at the shelter’s doors daily. Shelters that already have a high euthanasia rate will not benefit by simply turning away owner surrendered animals. As indicated in this post, when open admission shelters turn away owner surrendered animals, in many cases, the number of stray animals simply increases.

  2. I am not a fan of the no-kill agenda, but I can't see anything they did wrong in this case. What did I miss? (The owner is the one who changed the name.)

    1. This story was meant as an example of how wrong it is to leave a pet without a name or a history. This dog suffered as a result of no one knowing it's name. That makes a world of difference to a dog in strange surroundings, separate from all it has known. That's what is wrong with what No Kill is forcing on owners, to surrender their pets as a stray. These owners are doing no wrong, they are doing the right thing by bringing their pets to the shelter rather than dumping them on the mean streets.

      It is a form of cruelty to both human and animal to "punish" owners for relinquishing their pets. No Kill does this "punishment" in the form of dirty looks, hateful attitudes, brochures, lectures, waiting lists, evaluation for admission. We need to encourage people to bring pets to shelters, give their name, their history. It can only help the pet and the staff to find another home.


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