April 23, 2021
Dear Ms. Sadler and DPFL Team,
Certainly you know how awesome your work is, and must see the benefits of what you guys do on a regular basis.
I needed to take a moment to share how awesome your work is from my perspective too. Way back in 2007 I worked at Louisville Metro Animal Services (hereinafter LMAS) as an ACS. I got a job there after having volunteered for some months (before they even had a volunteer program), and after having completed college and discovering corporate America wasn’t for me.
As an ACS, I worked 2nd shift. I got recently-arrived-dogs off of ACO trucks, mostly alive, but sometimes dead, mostly nice, but all scared. I did intake vaccines, I fed 300+ dogs their afternoon dinner, and what I consider most important during this time: I socialized dogs. Back then our municipal shelter, like many others of that time, was euthanizing more than 60% of what came in, mostly for ‘time/space,’ as would be written on their kennel cards. That referred to a lack of time and/or space in the shelter. Back then, there were so many dogs, 200 or more at any given time. And as the only ACS on 2nd shift, it was my job to ‘find a kennel’ for dogs coming in, a kennel where there could get along with a kennel mate, or 2, or 3. Although it was intense at times, I did enjoy this part of my job. -Without even knowing it, I was a fan of observing dog behavior and socialization.
At night, maybe around 8:00 o’clock, when all was typically pretty calm at the shelter, I’d do what I loved doing best…
I’d go to the ‘200’s row’ for example, and open approximately 3 kennel doors; then with between 3 and 8 happy dogs trailing closely behind me, we’d run into that play yard for some romping around and a taste of freedom! Once in the yard, I’d quickly close that gate, and mostly just observe the dogs playing for a few minutes before getting back to the front desk to catch up on intake paperwork and/or handle any late night in-person surrenders. This process was repeated over and over again, nightly, as time permitted. If I could get out 3 decent-sized ‘rounds of dogs’ per shift, I felt the night was a success. This is what made me feel I was making a real, positive difference in these dogs’ lives… even if, for some of them, it’d be their last night alive. It wasn’t uncommon to go back to work the following afternoon, only to find some of my dearest 4-legged friends had been put down that day. That was brutal. I made the mistake of looking at a few of them in the freezer along the way. That was… there aren’t words for how painful that was, and is to this day.
So for me to be able to go to a Dogs Playing for Life event 14 years later, at LMAS, and find out that now there’s an organization dedicated to the socialization of shelter dogs, and that this org goes all over the country, you can imagine how special this was for me. I know how important socialization is for dogs, especially for imprisoned dogs, ones that are locked up 23.5 hours out of every 24 hours. -It’s crucial.
LMAS has come such a long way over the past decade or so, as have most of our country’s shelters, in my opinion. There are more funds available to shelters now than ever, there’s more community demand for shelters that are as mentally, physically and emotionally healthy as possible for pets in their care, spay/neuter rates are consistently on the increase, pet transport has become a huge puzzle piece to nationwide lifesaving initiatives, and so forth.
And as I’m sure you know, ‘no kill’ is also an attractive, almost necessary catch phrase for animal shelters across our country now. -The idea is excellent, although the implementation can be trickier- pets sitting in cages for years on end does not represent a positive version of ‘no kill’ for me personally, and due to various reasons, that’s the situation thousands of our nation’s pets are in now.
This phenomenon makes the work of DPFL all the more important.
So please, Keep up the good work. Keep hiring awesome people. Keep getting grants and funding to sponsor this program for the underfunded shelters.
My trajectory through the world and field of Animal Welfare has been interesting, rewarding, and sometimes very heartbreaking. I’m so grateful to have my own small foster-based rescue now, The Paw and Feather Plan Inc.
We focus on raising awareness for the need to include pets in life and death planning. We can serve as primary pet custodian in the event a pet owner doesn’t have someone reliable to assign in legal docs such as wills or trusts. We are passionate about this work, as you’re passionate about yours. While the ‘pets in planning’ aspect of this rescue may take a while to really catch on, we’re humbled and grateful for the opportunity we have to regularly ‘pull’ at risk pets from shelter partners, foster, work with them, and adopt them out into permanent, loving, vetted homes.
At Your Service,
Jessica Pita, Owner and Primary Pet Caregiver
The Paw and Feather Plan Inc