The Phoenix Files: Saved From the Ashes

The Phoenix Files
Replacing "From the Desk of Duffy"
Saved From the Ashes

Like my predecessor (from the Desk of Dubhy (pronounced Duffy), I have an impressive set of credentials. I too am affiliated with a staff member at the Humane Society of Washington County (HSWC), am a former shelter dog; have won a blue ribbon for being the Best Mixed Breed at a Basset Rescue of Old Dominion Dog Show at the Washington County Ag Center several years back, and was most recently described as having "a face with character", by a very prim and proper English woman.
You can call me Phoenix, which means "saved from the ashes." In a way, I was, because I was adopted, unlike some 4 to 5 million of the 8 to 10 million puppies and dogs, cats and kittens, who arrive at animal shelters across the US each year, but aren't fortunate enough to find good homes.
It's a senseless tragedy.
If only every pet owner would spay or neuter their pets, there wouldn't be a population problem of mammoth proportions in this community and in so many others. Spaying and neutering would put an end to the tragedy of unwanted puppies and kittens. It would also help address the problem of owners surrendering so many adolescent and adult dogs and cats to shelters like the HSWC. So many animals are surrendered to our shelter because of "behavior problems"--things like inappropriate urination/spraying, aggression, barking, digging, chewing, escaping...the list goes on.
This is an issue that hits very close to home right now. Recently, as part of the National Homeless Animals Day, held each summer on the third weekend of August, the Humane Society of Washington County joined with thousands of other shelters to honor the millions of unwanted and homeless animals euthanized each year.
Last year, the HSWC euthanized 3,027 animals. Some people who care dearly about animals, blame those who work here at the shelter. They're angry about this senseless loss of life. But guess what? The folks that work at the shelter get angry too. They work at the shelter because they, too, care dearly about animals. No one who works at the shelter wants to euthanize animals. But the people who let their dogs have puppies, their cats have kittens, and who don't manage and train them to avoid behavior problems, leave the shelter with no choice.
HSWC does its best to find homes for each and every one of the animals that passes through our doors. I know this for a fact because even my home has become a temporary shelter--for a few four-legged felines and one very petrified canine. They were in the foster program. But that's another story.
Details about the foster program will come in a future column. For now, I want to talk about euthanasia. I lost a few friends this year to euthanasia. But it wasn't the Humane Society's fault.
There was Petey, who was caught up in a legal battle. He had an irresponsible owner who didn't get him neutered, and who allowed him to roam, frightening his neighbors.
The same sort of thing happened to my friend Nubbie. He was born with a misshapen leg (hence the name, Nubbie) and he wasn't neutered. He became aggressive, attacking other dogs. Not good. Two lives which might have been spared by very simple surgery.
It's senseless. But I'm confident that the HSWC, under the direction of one incredibly experienced director and a really terrific staff, are working diligently to put an end to the tragedy of unwanted animals.
Next article, I'll tell you about some of the programs at the HSWC that are dedicated to spaying and neutering more animals in our community.
But that's all for now.

The Humane Society of Washington County exists to improve the quality of life for abused, neglected, and unwanted animals. 13011 Maugansville Road, Hagerstown, MD. 301-733-2060.