Being honest about whether or not you can realistically take care of a dog is a good thing. Not everyone has the time, emotional energy, or financial resources to give a good home to a pet. At certain points in my life, when my depression was especially acute, I could barely function well enough to take care of myself, never mind an animal depending on me for food and medical care. In that kind of situation, the responsible adult thing to do is surrender your pet to a nearby shelter (or an animal-loving friend) so that they can get the proper care.
With all that in mind, I really wonder about the facts behind the case of Pinky, a small dog who was abandoned in front of the Sacramento SPCA offices. The staff arrived at the offices on Saturday morning to find Pinky sitting there in a carrier with a note saying that the family could no longer take care of her because of a severe flea infestation.
Because this is the Internet, that brief summary sounds ripe for snark. It sounds like the perfect opportunity to mock people for being lazy or willing to dispose of an animal as soon as they become inconvenient, and no doubt the snark will fly thick and hard as more people learn about Pinky. But I’m long past my smug college years, and the snark of the Internet feels tedious most of the time, and I keep my powder dry for more important things.
Besides, when you look a little deeper than the initial facts, it’s clear that there’s more going on than just people who couldn’t be bothered to take care of their dog’s fleas. The note that was left with Pinky is heartbreaking:
Hi, my name is Pinky. My family tried really hard to get rid of my fleas but couldn’t, and I’m really suffering. They didn’t have any way to get help because they don’t have any money. They loved me so much that they decided to take me to a non-kill shelter to get the help I need. I brought all my stuff for my new family. Thank you for your help.
The note didn’t come from someone who wants to dump their dog because she became inconvenient; it came from someone who loved their dog, but felt like they had run out of options and took the only one they thought they had left. The truth is, there are a lot of people who are at the end of their rope these days, and unless wages and jobs increase, we’ll see a lot more. “All you need is love,” sounds nice, but it’s not true. You also need enough money to provide food, medicine, and other necessities.
The biggest problem with the note is that Sacramento SPCA isn’t a no-kill shelter, something they freely admit in the comments about Pinky: “We do not advertise ourselves as a no-kill shelter,” they say. “Unfortunately we were not able to speak with these owners to go over our policies, which we explain at the time of surrender to explore other potential options vs a shelter.”
However, Pinky isn’t in danger of being euthanized. According to the Sacramento SPCA, they’ve taken care of her fleas and will try to adopt her after a holding period. “Pinky did have fleas present, and she has areas of hair loss on her back and rump,” foster care coordinator Sarah Varanini said in an interview with The Dodo. “We treated the source of the problem, the fleas on her body, with a topical flea preventative. However, if the home itself was overrun with fleas, other measures would have been needed to completely eradicate the problem.”
Pinky’s family may have had other options, even if they didn’t know about them. In its original post, the Sacramento SPCA recommends Keep Your Pet, a website it sponsors to provide resources for people who feel like they can’t care for their animals anymore due to financial or health reasons.
Hopefully, Pinky will find a new home soon, or her old family will come back and find new options. Based on the letter, it sounds like she was loved.
Read more about dogs on Dogster: