In the eyes of an abandoned animal: ticket by Mel-Lyna

In the eyes of an abandoned animal: ticket by Mel-Lyna

Have you ever stared into the eyes of an abandoned animal? I am not talking about seeing someone abandon their animal in a shelter from a distance, but rather of being there, in the moment, living it. Unfortunately, this happens to be too often, and the number of saddened souls I meet never ceases.

Contrary to what many owners believe, an animal does experience repercussions after being abandoned. I am not trying to make generalizations, but it is not uncommon to hear certain people say ‘’It’s only a dog, it’ll get over it’’ or ‘’Look at it, it’s wagging its tail. It doesn’t even know what’s happening.’’. However, when I am leaving with that dog to lead it to its temporary enclosure, away from its family, everything points to it understanding very well that something isn’t right.

Moaning, incessant panting, excessive barking and agitation are some of the telltale signs that come up when an animal is under a lot of stress. In a new environment, confronted with still unknown humans and protocols, it is obviously a sizable ordeal for the poor abandoned animal. Dogs are not the only ones displaying these signals of discomfort, cats and exotic animals such as rodents and birds experience just as much stress and anguish at the moment when they are abandoned.

For many of them, this first step at the shelter will not be the end of their ordeal. Many animals continue to feel anxiety afterwards, and it is common for some of them to develop aggressivity. Behavioural problems are an example of the repercussions of abandonment, but medical issues may also surface due to abandonment.

In a shelter, it is unfortunately fairly common to receive animals with multiple health issues or of a considerable age. In certain of those more delicate cases, such stress and disruption can cause serious consequences, sometimes leading to death. Old animals refusing to eat, a fat cat in bad shape dying of a heart attack the night following its abandonment, or simply animals whose state deteriorates following the shock are sad occurrences, but ones I am familiar with.
When abandoning your animal, you need to think of those consequences. A seemingly trivial act for some will have considerable impact on these sensitive beings who will be the ones to pay the price. As animal shelter workers, we do everything in our power to help animals in their journey through our establishment, but some things are outside of our control, even if we wished we could make these problems disappear with the flick of a magic wand, nothing can ever make the pain and fear in the eyes of an abandoned animal.

Mel-Lyna Cadieux Walker has been a volunteer for SPA Canada for a year. She also works in an animal shelter and has published a book on pitbulls (Axiome Pitbull), which you can view or download for free with the following link:

Protection Pitbulls