ANIMAL CONNECTION: White lies and spotted pups
The SPCA Albrecht Center is a no-kill shelter. We only euthanize pets in the most extreme cases, when quality of life or aggressive behavior is in question. Due to our no-kill status, we increasingly have problems with well-meaning citizens stretching the truth about animals they bring to us.
The problem is these people are manipulating a system with good intentions but adverse outcomes. I'd like to shed a little light on the subject and help people understand the best courses of action for these animals.
Little White Lie No. 1: People who are surrendering personal pets often misrepresent their pet's health or temperament.
Little White Lie No. 2: Because of the overpopulation problem, the SPCA often has no room for personal surrenders, so people will represent a dog or cat they actually own as a stray.
Little White Lie No. 3 (and the worst one of all!): People often lie about the place they found a stray so that it will fall under what they perceive to be the SPCA's jurisdiction instead of the jurisdiction of an open admission shelter with a high euthanasia rate.
Outside of breaking the 9th commandment, making Santa's naughty list or having your proverbial pants catch fire, here are some reasons to tell the truth to the SPCA staff or City of Aiken animal control officers:
1. First, misrepresenting your pet's health and temperament puts the SPCA and the animals and people we serve at risk.
2. The SPCA does not accept strays. We have a pretty tight relationship with the City of Aiken's Environmental Control Department, which is a source of confusion sometimes. Officers Willing, Parry and Prigden have desks in our administrative offices. We have kennels dedicated to the City of Aiken on our property. When strays come into the SPCA's physical building, they are under the jurisdiction and are property of Aiken Public Safety until the appropriate waiting period has passed. These animals, even the adoptable ones, are unfortunately at risk of being euthanized because of space. While people think they are guaranteeing their personal pets spots in a no-kill facility by misrepresenting them as strays, they could very well be sentencing them to death.
3. I can truly understand why people wouldn't want to take an adorable spotted puppy they found cavorting in a field somewhere outside of Aiken's city limits to an open admission shelter. No one wants to see these helpless lives wasted. But telling the shelter manager at the SPCA that you found that pup in the Walmart Southside parking lot doesn't make it SPCA property. The SPCA does not accept strays. So a) the puppy is not necessarily protected from euthanasia, b) it is taking up a space in the city shelter instead of where it belongs, which means the dogs we already have here are at more imminent risk of euthanasia because of overcrowding, c) the fine folks who are probably looking for that puppy are looking in the wrong place and will likely not find it before it is euthanized or perhaps rescued by the SPCA and adopted out, d) the City of Aiken pays for services the SPCA renders on a dog that doesn't really belong to them, e) the shelter who should have gotten the dog in the first place is unable to accurately measure their needs because they don't know how many stray animals they are getting, and finally f) lying to an officer (even if the lie seems innocent and was intended to protect an animal) is punishable by a fine and/or up to 30 days in prison.
Stretching the truth, no matter how good the intention, often does more harm than good. By telling the truth, you give the SPCA or whichever shelter you end up involved with, the opportunity to help. We can address behavioral issues, offer suggestions for veterinarians who can help, find food to get you through a rough patch, and yes, even lovingly put pets to rest when their time comes. But you have to be honest. What seems like one little white lie could mean disaster for that spotted pup.
If you have questions about the services the SPCA provides or the difference between animal control and the SPCA, please don't hesitate to drop me a line or call. Come by or send mail to Chrissey Miller, 199 Willow Run Road, Aiken, SC 29801; email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 803-648-6863.
A graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, Chrissey Miller has a bachelor's degree in fine arts. Miller began work at the SPCA in January 2010 as volunteer coordinator. She is thrilled to be able to mesh her creative passion and sales experience together as development director, in charge of programming, fundraising, events and grant-writing. Miller and her husband David live in Aiken with their children, Blair and Gracey; their adopted tri-pawed dog, Zipper and adopted Dogue de Bordeaux/Lab mix, Django.