Here are her words:
I couldn't get the number out of my mind - 1,000 cats turned in during one week in June. To write an editorial for the local paper, I asked the AZ Humane Society if I could sit in the lobby for a bit and observe. The hour poked a hole in my heart. Even before the shelter opened at 9 there were cars in the parking lot. I spoke to one woman who said she wanted to get rid of them, jabbing her finger at two dogs in her car. I asked why. They got too big. A shivering puppy waited his turn. As soon as the doors opened it didn't take long for the lobby to fill up with mostly cat owners or Good Samaritans who found cats. There were cats in boxes, bags and old suitcases. The lobby sang with the sounds of meow.
Nearly every bit of space is occupied by cats. Cats cats cats. There are dogs but the overwhelming number of unwanted animals are cats. One cat recovered from a gunshot wound. A dog brought in by the rescue team obviously outgrew his chain. There were hideous scars around his neck.
Worker after worker made the same comment. It's the same every summer. Nothing changes. Even the sign they post that says if you leave your animal here it will be euthanized is not a deterrent. And the litany of excuses is enough to make you gag. I'm moving and I can't take my pet.
On my way out, I stopped in the thrift shop. A woman barges in looking for her husband. She gripes about the wait in the shelter and says she's not hanging around another minute to turn in a kitten she allegedly found. She says she'll take it back to the neighborhood and let it go. I ask if she'll give me the kitten. I'll wait at the shelter. She dumps her in my lap like a sack of potatoes. I turn in the confused and befuddled kitten covered with debris. She is one of hundreds competing for a loving home.
That is a typical morning at the shelter. By the end of the day I was told they'd have 100 more cats turned in.
I await figures on how many people use their public spay/neuter clinic to finish my editorial. Now I will get numbers on the county shelter which will probably be similar. And on the drive home, that hole in my heart enlarged and I couldn't stop the tears. I don't expect one editorial to change the world but if I convince a few people to spay or neuter their cats then I've done a good thing.
Debra J. WhiteWhen I told Debra how moved I was by her story she added these thoughts:
In my 13 years in Phoenix I have seen a slight drop in puppy litters but I have seen absolutely no change in kitten litters. None. Keep in mind we have spay/neuter programs. County fixes cats for free (with private funds). Humane has a clinic and there is another service called Altered Tails. Still, it is not enough but we keep trying.
To learn more about Debra please visit her website.