When viewing the disturbing images and scenes of dogs chained up outside with no shelter, no food or water, looking emaciated, often abandoned outside to live their sad life, do you immediately think “some people should not own pets, or these pets need to be taken away?’ I’m sure you have at one time or another. Why, we’ve all been through that thought process at one time or another, it’s an immediate heartfelt response to those of us who care about animals. We criticize these pet owners, often in the underserviced areas of our community, and wonder how they just don’t get it, how do they just not know any better. We empathize with all of you and your concerns, as Matt, founder of PAWS, has had to endure the permanent emotional scars of observing these images and scenarios, in person, countless times over the course of the past decade. Our cases are isolated incidents, but be well aware these scenarios are happening down every street, in numerous backyards within our city.
When Matt first began stumbling upon these scenes of distress, he at first felt some level of comfort, just like so many of us do, when a call of his was actually responded to. Just like so many of you, he felt he did the right thing, he performed a good deed and someone will be there to help this animal out….right?! Most often, NOT! That’s where many of Matt’s great attributes come into play, which separate him from so many others; it’s the fact he is persistent, he’s obsessive, he’s all heart, and he’s loyal to that animal who’s eyes met his, and he is determined to ensure these cases he came across were followed up on. Matt quickly came to the realization, almost immediately, no one was responding, no one’s footprints were in the snow leading up to the poor frozen dog tied up in a back yard for days, no one had brought food or provided fresh water, etc. The sad reality of it all was, there was no presence; these areas of our community were long ago abandoned when it came to animal welfare. There was minimal response, if any. Most often when there was a response to strong evidence of neglect, what was most likely the outcome? Well, if the dog was taken away and brought to the local kill shelter, they better not have shown any signs of aggression if they wanted to pass the ‘tests.’ All the time they spent being starved, having no socialization or even a simple touch of a human hand, better not result in them displaying any sort of timid response, which might be displayed through characteristics of growling, snapping, etc. Those poor dogs really don’t have any sort of chance of being rescued or just being given a chance, (not a second chance, but an actual first chance) at being cared for, loved and doted upon. The bottom line is, when these dogs are taken away, what fate are they more likely to face? Also, more often than not, when an animal is taken away, these owners go out and get another pet to replace the one just taken from them. Therefore, another animal is now so unfortunately forced to become a participant in this never-ending vicious cycle.
There are thousands of dogs chained to fences, poles, etc. with no shelter whatsoever, starving, living their lives of neglect and void of any human contact, let alone, affection. As difficult as it is to do, placing judgment, which results in having these animals taken away, does not accomplish anything positive, overall, in the end. These animals are dying daily in our own city. Many dogs we are not aware of are thrown away in dumpsters and landfills without ever being spoken of. There are not enough rescues and shelters which can take these animals in and care for them. PAWS is the only program taking this approach, and no one else is going to get this done. That’s why we so desperately need the community to help with donating to our organization, whether it be through monetary means, or through tangible goods.
Matt, through the PAWS community outreach program, and with the help of volunteers and the community’s support, can make a huge impact on the welfare of not just dogs, but even cats here in our city. Not only will PAWS provide a voice and a presence, but the program will continue to strengthen and change the face of animal welfare in our community. With the PAWS approach, we are finding many are positively responding when they learn we are not there to place judgment, we are not there to take away their animals, but we are there to offer them assistance and education in order to make a difference in their pet’s welfare. If we can keep these animals safe at home, and provide a community where more responsible pet owners are created, isn’t that much more effective than just removing every animal from a situation where with a little guidance and proper care, a positive outcome is easily attainable? There are always going to be outright cases of neglect and abuse where the owner is not interested and therefore, those scenarios are sifted out, and the proper authorities are contacted. In the meantime, Matt’s, which is now the PAWS’ approach, has proven to be like no other, and he finds many are extremely receptive to the program. How much nicer will it be to see a reduction in intake numbers coinciding with a community where animals are properly cared for throughout the neighborhoods that once held numerous sad scenarios for them?