I’ve been looking at An Act of Dog, a fantastically ambitious art project that makes my writing project look like a walk in the park. Their aim is to make America the first no-kill nation – a tall order given that 5500 dogs a day are killed in American shelters.
The only statistic I’ve got on British dog deaths is that local authorities kill 20 healthy dogs a day for want of a home. That doesn’t sound so many until you actually think about 20 dogs:
The 20 dogs pictured are lucky – they’re all at Dogs Trust waiting to be rehomed. Dogs Trust never destroy a healthy dog.
But 20 dogs is actually the tip of the iceberg. Many more healthy dogs are killed in charity shelters – at least 5 a day in Battersea alone. All charity shelters have to make the horrible decision between destroying dogs they can’t rehome, or turning away dogs they could. There are no easy answers, and I do understand why some shelters decide to kill.
But I’m a BIG dreamer, and I want to see a day when that isn’t a decision. I want every dog to have a home or at least a shelter place for life. This is Dogs Trust’s wish. As well as caring for 16,000 dogs a year, they’re also working to make sure fewer dogs are abandoned or lost – educating children, helping people pay for neutering and microchipping, and helping people in the worst of circumstances to hold on to their pets.
But the only way this wish is going to come true is with a LOT more money.
Dogs are dying, in my country, every day, and if anyone is going to do something about that, it should be me. I can’t fix every problem in the world, I can’t fix this one, but I can help. Every dog I see on the street makes me happy, even the ugly ones, the elderly ones, the barky ones – I love them all. I can’t even explain how and why I love dogs so much, because I explain practically everything else I love in terms of dogs. They’re my fundamental unit of awesome. The thought that even one dog might end up dead when I could have stopped it is just - no.
It’s also a big loss to humans when dogs die. So much love we’re missing out on. And as a species, we need the love right now. Dogs are so good for our mental health. The dog that’s put down this hour could have been someone’s soulmate.
Why yes, I AM crying right now.