A personal note from Paulette Dean, the executive director:
On June 1st, I marked my 23rd year as the director of the Danville Area Humane Society. The animal welfare field was different back then. Rescue groups took dogs, mostly purebreds, from public shelters and found them homes. Public shelters accepted all the animals that came to their doors. Shelter employees quietly did society's dirty work, and people preferred not to hear about it. Volunteers with private groups and shelter employees gathered at conferences to learn from experts and from each other.
That has changed. Now, the state of animal welfare has become cannibalistic. Employees of open-admission shelters are labeled unfeeling at best and cruel murderers at worst. People vent on social media outlets, and eviscerate the people they disagree with. Public shelter employees and animal control officers who are still tasked with cleaning up society's mess of pet overpopulation, cruelty, and sadness are vilified by people who love having a voice from the safe harbor of their computers. It is no wonder that legislators and donors have grown weary of people in the animal welfare field.
The victims, as always, are the animals. All of the fighting and shouting and mean-spiritedness suck the life out of the mission of helping the animals.
So, the Danville Area Humane Society and I will not enter the fray. We will remain too busy providing for the day-to-day needs of the animals. We will occupy ourselves rescuing animals in peril in trees, storm drains, highway medians, and houses where cruelty happens quietly and ferociously. We will preach spaying and neutering until we lose our voices. We will do everything in our power to find loving, responsible homes for our shelter animals. We will hold community dog washes and pet photos events with Santa and the Easter Bunny to raise money. We will continue working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to do what we can to help animals.
We will continue to be criticized, but know this: Our belief is that the vast majority of people who work in open-admission shelters work for the animals, and their efforts come at great personal emotional cost. Even though people comment about how we must be so uncaring because our shelter euthanizes animals, we grieve. Our grief is for the suffering we see every day. We will continue to be sworn at and called killers by the very people who are releasing yet another litter of kittens and puppies to us. We will go home at night, numbed by what we have witnessed that day. We will read the negative, hate-filled comments on Facebook and on on-line media websites. We will get up the next morning, ready to face another day because of the animals we have helped.
The Danville Area Humane Society does not have time, nor will we make time, to enter the cannibalistic fights. Instead, we will thank the city and county administrators who allocate funds for animal programs. We will thank the animal control officers who don uniforms every day to do their tough jobs that earn them contempt with some people. We will be grateful for shelter volunteers who enrich the lives of the shelter animals. We will remain in awe of shelter staff members. We will even appreciate the work of other animal organizations, even as their voices are shouting hate at us.
Simply put, we refuse to enter the negative world that the animal welfare world has become. Instead, we will put our energies into helping the animals. Cannibalism among ourselves is not a sustainable program, and the animals will suffer.