Another issue that needs more than one blog entry. Animal protection became a very important part of our lives in the last years.
Janet introduced us to the world of animal shelters. Our cats came from families (Sammy was born at a local farm, Micky at my parents-in-law house). Most important: They came to us at a very young age. Sammy may have had a hard time following her birth, but this were weeks – not months or years.
The animal shelter that introduced us to Janet and Sam tries to help shelters or animal rescue organisations that bring dogs from Southern Europe to Germany. That’s how we became owners of romanian dogs.
In Germany “adopt don’t shop” became very popular. That’s a good thing. Animals suffer, too, and it is up to us humans to solve this, because we are the reason behind this suffering. But I think many people underestimate the problems that can follow adopting an animal from a shelter. This is the only reason I can think of why several dogs were returned to the shelter in the last weeks after having been succesfully adopted, because “things just didn’t work out”.
Shelter animals have been through hard times. Maybe they have been rehomed several times and don’t understand what is going on. They have every reason not to trust in humans. Maybe humans meant beating, or they just came and went. So the animal learned not to trust anyone but itself. Shelters often don’t have enough staff to really work on these issues. If they are lucky, they are supported by experienced volunteers, but this is not always the case.
Often the new owners expect shelter animals to adjust to their new enviroment from the very beginning, and maybe they expect thankfulness, too. But how is the animal supposed to know everything is better now? Changing your mind takes time, not only for humans, but for animals as well. Throwing in the towel after a few weeks is too early, I think. Many problems can be solved by the right setting and consequent education. But it takes time, patience and getting through setbacks. Every pet owner needs to work on this, owners of a shelter animal even more!
Of course there never are guarantees how things work out. But often shelter animals surprise everyone with their ability to love again. Janet, very shy and anxious at the beginning, changed completely in the first year with us and is very carefree and high-spirited now. Sam, even though he was brought to Germany when he was a puppy, needs a lot more time to leave the past behind. But he shows us he is willing to try.
It’s important to keep in mind that shelter animals often have lots of potential. They are so worth every effort!