My hands shook as I listened to a voice mail on my cell phone. I could not believe it. I had just received a call for an interview at my dream job!
If everything went well, I would be the newest member of the Missouri Humane Society as an Adoption Counselor. My husband and I visit their Macklind location at least once a month to give treats to the animals still searching for their forever homes. To think that I would get to be a part of such a wonderful group was mind blowing.
However, my joy soon diminished as I realized I had gotten an interview for their Chesterfield location. This would mean almost an hour drive every day. Plus, I would have to work on holidays as well as weekends. But my passion for animals is so great that I knew compromises would have to be made.
The doors opened and I stepped into the adoption center. Cute kitties pawed at me from behind their glass enclosures. Animal themed gifts filled the mini gift shop. It was official. I was in heaven!
I immediately hit it off with the manager. *Beth and I had the same passion for saving lives. I was then asked how I felt about euthanasia. “Well, I liken it to deer hunting,” I explained. “I do not participate or support it, but I understand why it is sometimes needed.” She said, “Great analogy! I don’t like hunting either.”
Before I knew it, I had received an offer for immediate employment. While overjoyed, there was still one issue that needed to be addressed: the pay. Accepting this job would mean a HUGE pay cut. My husband was less than thrilled, but wanted to support my dream. He knows that I am not meant for the cut throat office world. I have had my share of that abuse. And I truly do have a talent for working with animals. They seem to instantly trust me. I firmly believe that it is a gift from God.
I do not want to be selfish, but I am ready to do something meaningful with my life. Something that will utilize the skills and talents that God has given me. I no longer want to pretend to be something that I am not.
Taking a deep breath, I brought up the salary. Beth told me that she would see what she could do. Then she began to talk about another position that was still open. The Transport Coordinator would be responsible for going to area shelters and selecting the most adoptable animals to be brought back to the humane society. This person would also assist the Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force in rescuing abused and neglected animals. And Beth thought I would be just perfect for the job!
She raced out of the room in search of her phone. She hoped that she would be able to reach her supervisor so that I could get hired on the spot for that (higher paying) position. I thought that the stars of my life were finally aligning. God did have a plan for me and it was going to be amazing!
Unfortunately, Beth was unable to locate her boss. I left with the understanding that the Adoption Counselor position was mine if I wanted it and that Beth would be contacting me when she heard from her boss.
I left feeling so excited. Beth had given me more compliments than any of my bosses (past and present) ever have. Everything felt so right.
The next morning, I received a call requesting an interview that very day in the afternoon. I readily accepted and watched the clock slowly tick away the minutes until my departure. My phone rang about two hours before the interview. It was *Michelle, Beth’s boss, wanting to conduct a pre-interview. She began by explaining the hours and how they would vary. Some overnight travel may be required. I was nodding my head, as if she could see me. Michelle then asked how I felt about euthanasia. I decided to stick with my hunting analogy since it was such a hit and accurately describes how I feel about the subject.
“You would be performing this,” Michelle stated.
My heart immediately dropped into my stomach. I felt like I was going to throw up. “I would be performing euthanasia?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes, that is a requirement for this job.”
I was completely horrified. I am known as the saver of animal lives, not the destroyer. No way in a million years could I ever kill an animal, no matter how much money was thrown at me.
“No, I could never do that,” I replied.
“Well, it is a requirement for this position,” Michelle commented. She then left a very pregnant pause as if I was going to change my mind.
“I’m sorry, but I could never do that,” I answered.
We thanked each other for our time and hung up. I was enraged. Beth had billed the Transport Coordinator position as one that would SAVE lives. She did not make a single mention of the fact that I would also be responsible for needlessly killing animals. I would have showed no interest in the job if I had known the full details.
This experience has greatly changed my opinion of the Missouri Humane Society and what they stand for. I found out that if they have a large influx of animals, those that have treatable illnesses, such as UTI’s, are euthanized to make space for their healthy, adoptable counterparts. While I understand that overcrowding is a real issue, what I cannot wrap my brain around is the fact that HSMO just received a multimillion dollar grant to build a new, larger facility. Doesn’t this mean that they will have more space for intakes? And they are blessed enough to have 3 locations, unlike most animal shelters and humane societies that are lucky to have just one.
With all of these spaces to house homeless animals, why are they insistent upon killing them? I own several fur babies that I know they would have deemed “unadoptable.” Hope, our double dapple Dachshund, was born without eyes and is completely deaf. She is the biggest inspiration in my life. Even with these “disabilities,” she lives her best life in which her tail is always wagging. Hope holds her head high as she prances from room to room. Had she fallen into the clutches of HSMO, she would have undoubtedly been killed simply because people cannot begin to fathom how any living creature could be happy living a life without sight or sound. Yet, she loves everyone that she meets. Hope will greet you with a wag of her tail and then cover you in the best weenie kisses ever.
Penny is our tripod Chiweenie wonder. She was born with a severe overbite and a deformed front paw. While Penny does hop around like a bunny, she does not allow anything to hold her back. She frequently scales our three foot pet gate and loves to race her furry siblings around in the backyard. Penny is a total love bug who enjoys meeting new people, dogs and cats. Her looks only enhance the awesomeness that is Penny.
Every day, animals just like Hope and Penny are “put to sleep” because they are deemed unworthy of being adopted. How can HSMO play God? I cannot ever imagine being forced to choose which animals to save and which to kill. It is reminiscent of Sophie’s Choice on a much larger scale. Marc Barone is currently working on an epic project entitled “An Act of Dog” in which he is painting portraits of all of the dogs that have been euthanized across the country for no other reason than a lack of space.
I am then reminded of HSMO’s Second Chances telethon. This annual TV special presentation depicts HSMO as being the guardians of animals and their well-being, all while asking for monetary donations in order to continue providing “protection” for animals in need. What they do not tell viewers is that they are not a no-kill shelter. They are an all access shelter, which means that they will not discriminate against an animal due to age or health issues. I was told this during my interview. The same interview in which I was told that if there was an abundance of animals, those with treatable illnesses would be euthanized first. What a hypocritical organization!
If they truly want to be humane (as in their very name sake), they should try to HELP as many animals as they can. Just like humans, not all animals are born with the same chance at a wonderful life. I had believed that it was the mission of every humane society and rescue group to give these poor creatures a second chance at living the life they truly deserve.
While my dreams of combining my love of animals with a job are sufficiently dashed, I also find that I am feeling somewhat relieved. Knowing how duplicitous HSMO is, I would not want to be employed at their establishment only to watch countless numbers of animals senselessly lose their lives.
*names have been changed