I’d like to recount what happens to animals 14 days after they are brought to the shelter.
During these 14 days we try to locate the owner of the captured animal. We place the animal’s pictures on our site and, if the animal has a microchip and was entered in the register, we call the owner and ask him/her to pick up the animal from the shelter at the first opportunity. It is in our interest to find the owner and hand the animal over to him/her as soon as possible because we receive a lot of calls and messages about missing animals every day and there is no guarantee that the next hour another 3-5 dogs will not be arriving at the shelter that we will have to accommodate and take care of for the duration of their stay here.
To preserve the right to an animal, its owner must pick up the animal from the shelter within 14 days. According to the law, after two weeks a captured animal becomes the property of the shelter. It does not mean anything for the animal as such, but it means one simple thing: the transfer of the ownership right to the animal from its old owner to the shelter. In other words, two weeks later the owner does not have any right to claim this animal back. This is what these 14 days are about – just the transfer of ownership and nothing more.
What happens next?
Then the animal continues to live in the shelter waiting for a new loving home and we provide it with food, care and necessary medical treatment within our means. An animal stays in the shelter as long as there are vacant places. Since an animal occupies a place and we receive a lot of stray animal reports, it is in our interest to relocate the animal as soon as possible. That’s why we try to write articles, place more pictures on our site, promote dogs on different sites and in social networks, in the press and TV, describe their character and habits, attract volunteers and visitors to the shelter to be able to introduce our animals to as many people as possible.
People who work in the shelter love animals very much. Many of them have been with us since the very beginning and feel strongly for each tail here. We have favourite animals that we dearly love and want to find a nice and loving home for. Our first goal is to find a good owner, not to put down a healthy active animal with all the potential to become a favourite in a new family where we’d be happy to hand it over to: fed, groomed, often sterilised. We have dogs that have lived here since September 2010, January 2011, etc. We have a lot of “long-time customers”.
Does the shelter put animals down?
Facing the reality of our modern existence and life situations, we must all understand and accept the fact that it is impossible to keep a no-kill shelter in our country. The reason lies in the attitude of people to their animals that:
A) multiply without control (concerns dogs and cats alike);
B) roam around without supervision because the owner is too lazy to walk them 3 times a day: it’s much easier to let an animal out before going to work and then take it back home for the night;
C) are kept in poor conditions without veterinary help, which results in various diseases and suffering, thus making an animal angry and aggressive;
and many others.
It all leads to the oversaturation of the supply side of the market and, thus, the supply of kittens/puppies exceeds the demand by a good margin, the surplus is impossible to get rid of, starts to annoy owners and the first idea they come up with is to hand them over to the shelter. At that, they completely ignore the fact that the shelter is already crowded with animals in need of a home. Stop fighting the result and don’t pass the buck on to us! Root out the cause – it’s much simpler and cheaper. Thus, people themselves oversaturate the market, making it very difficult for us, and then say to us – “They are so lovely and fluffy! They are very nice! Take them”! My answer is always the same: “Animals are beautiful, they are all great, but I wish there were less homeless ones”!
It is rather difficult to explain to people that sterilisation of, say, a cat, is a necessity, because many still believe that an animal should be allowed after its first giving birth to have a normal life afterwards, which is a gross delusion. I am writing all this because until people start to keep their animals properly, it will be impossible to have a no-kill shelter in Estonia.
Any person who takes an animal should clearly realise the accompanying responsibility. They should be thoroughly aware of the rules of keeping dogs and cats in Tallinn and of the requirements for keeping pets, which describe in detail the keeping conditions for different animals. About any rules, including those of our shelter, I say that “instructions are written in blood”. If the rules or instructions already exist they should be adhered to, even if you don’t like them, because they are not written arbitrarily.
Therefore, to sum up the aforesaid, I will say this:
We do all we can to avoid putting animals down, but if the inflow of animals to the shelter because of the irresponsible behaviour of their owners exceeds the outflow (mostly because the owners do not look after them), we are forced to make a choice. This choice falls upon sick, old, aggressive, savage and unsociable animals (concerns cats and dogs).
To give an example, in May we put down only two dogs that were aggressive and never showed a shred of sympathy to anyone. Others were either taken back by their owners or relocated.
“I heard/read that tons of animal corpses are transported to a recycling centre”! What is your refrigerator and what is kept there?
Under the contract we have with Tallinn’s Municipal Engineering Department we must collect the remains of animals hit by a car or lying on the roadside and in other public places. Such animals are reported to us by citizens calling our 24 h phone number 6314747 or by other departments that find animal corpses in public places. For example, in the last month and the month before that we collected the remains of roe deer, big dogs, boars, swans, seagulls, pigeons, cats, raccoon dogs and beavers, squirrels, foxes and other wild and/or domestic animals. One roe deer weighs approximately 40-50+ kg, an adult boar 70-80 kg or even more. All these remains are collected by our catchers and kept in a refrigerator that we empty in the recycling centre a maximum of once a month. The dead weight is usually below one ton. The proportion of animals from our shelter in these remains may be 1-2% and the rest we collect elsewhere. We collect animal corpses not only in Tallinn but also in other municipalities that we have contracts with. We cooperate with more than 25 municipalities. In each of them such problems arise at least once a month and we deal with it using the resources of our shelter.
To sum up, I just ask the following:
Help us: do not lose your animals! Keep them more responsibly! Spare us hard decisions caused by the lack of space. And if your animal still went astray, try to call us AT ONCE and start searching for your dog/cat! We’d be happy to return animals to you, because we believe that the shelter is just a temporary living place for an animal and it would feel much better at home, although we do all we can to make it comfortable here as far as our means allow.