Though I arrived less than an hour after what a sign on the front door declared the daily "cleaning time," the stench in the kennel was gagworthy.
Most of the tiny indoor runs had shit piles in them; some had many shit piles. There were no employees or volunteers in the kennel, but several occupied offices. Outside, where dogs are sometimes tethered -- shit strata.
And of course, there was the Wall of Sound, which is a feature of most kennels.
The two English shepherd boys I came to pull for National English Shepherd Rescue were friendly, good-natured, and smelled like Satan's jockstrap. Made for a memorable ride home. Their tiny shared run was one of the only clean ones; apparently, based on their deposits since being sprung, they'd been saving it up since they got there.
Now, I'm a woman who rakes a chicken coop each day, who processes whole tripes for her dogs to eat, who dresses and butchers her own deer, who has run on an ambulance, raised litters of puppies, eaten British institutional food. I am a woman with experience of stench.
The first thing I did with
Animal professionals often speak of the APO -- the Average Pet Owner. What he does and does not know, the skills he does or does not possess, what he is capable of doing, what he is willing to put up with.
I cannot imagine that 90% of the APOs out there could conceive of taking a shrieking, stir-crazy, filthy, shit-covered, urine-burned dog from one of those kennel runs and bringing it home to be a pet. In his house. Hell no.
Set aside that the dogs in this "shelter" come in untrained, unmannerly, and with unknown and unadmitted histories -- and leave it the same way. Their physical condition does not spell out "great pet" to a normal person, any more than a totalled automobile on a flatbed screams "your next sweet ride" to anyone other than the owner of a body shop. The atmosphere in the kennel is palpable, and I mean that literally. Bring your kids in there? I don't think so.
The stink of parvo feces at Petland is concealed by automatic air "fresheners." The puppies appear clean, are kept on "sanitary" wire and bathed frequently. There's a deli case to block odors. This is called marketing. It's how Hunte stays in business, and also why dog pounds do. Cogitate on it.
For an hour and a half of (unpaid) work per dog, I've determined scads about their temperaments (bombproof comes to mind), and made them already more adoptable. They no longer reek like a pair of old goats, they don't feel gritty/greasy to the touch, the biggest mats are gone. With some groceries, peace and quiet, and training, they will be very marketable. An average pet owner would be able to bring one into his home. He would choose such a dog over one from Petland, even.
The ones back at the "shelter?" Notsomuch. Dogs will die of neglect there. Not a lack of food or water. They'll die because the Powers reject the necessity of marketing their "products." They'll die because a potential adopter is too grossed out by the stench of commingled shit, piss, and despair to visit the "shelter." They'll die because Dad bugged out with little Jimmy when the decibel level got dangerous -- and there was no place to look at or meet the dogs except right there in the kennel. They'll die because the volunteer who should have been bathing them and teaching them to sit and shake hands couldn't take it anymore.
There are a lot of people in the "shelter industry" who roll their eyes at the notion that we could become a No-Kill Nation. Killing for cage space is inevitable in their reality. But they have created that reality themselves. Others are free to reject it, and create a better one -- one where the shit gets scooped, the dog gets a bath, and a thousand other "marketing details" get attended to, because each and every animal has value.