Eager to see the dogs at the Payson Humane Society enjoying their new play yard, I was warned to wear old clothes. Because I had other errands, I did not heed this advice. I walked into the play yard and was greeted by 30-plus friendly, but very muddy dogs. Immediately, I had paw prints from ankle to shoulder. After a few seconds, it seemed advisable to take my photos from the other side of the fence.
Life has changed for the better at the PHS. It is wonderful to watch dogs run, play, roll in the mud and spread out in the kiddy pools.
Previously, as many dogs as there were volunteers available would get a morning walk. Now, those dogs proven to be socially acceptable are allowed to romp twice a day. Their kennels are opened and they race through the walkway and into the yard that has been set up on the new property behind the present shelter buildings.
Toni McCracken, dressed in waders and old clothes, supervises the afternoon romp. The dogs follow her around like the Pied Piper. Occasionally, one will jump into her arms. If there is a scuffle, it is immediately stopped with a word from Toni. The dogs that are found to be aggressive toward other dogs are not allowed to take part. I think the dogs know that if they mess up, they could lose this wonderful privilege. When time is up, they are pretty good about returning to their kennels, but most of them need to be hosed down first.
Mike Daniel, supervisor of dogs, keeps track or who comes in and who gets adopted as well as the special needs of each dog. He told me of a puppy that was thrown onto the roof of the shelter recently. Fortunately the pup rolled down and landed safely. Who could do such a thing? If someone does not want a dog, why would they have one?
The staff and volunteers at the PHS do their absolute best to provide a decent temporary home for pets that have been abandoned by their owners. It amazes me how they all seem to know the name of each dog and cat. They all would like it to be a no-kill shelter, but overcrowding causes way too many dogs and cats to be euthanized.
The main reason for the overcrowding is that too many people allow their dogs and cats to reproduce, thinking that they can always give cute puppies and kittens away. But many who accept one of these babies are not willing to make the commitment necessary to properly and responsibly care for a pet. Puppies can be annoying. I know. I have one in residence. She is adorable and very good but she can get into things if I am not watching. Could a puppy having an accident in the house cause someone to get angry enough to throw it up on the roof at the shelter? That is disgusting.
Why do people refuse to spay and neuter their pets? It has been proven that it is healthier for both males and females if they are altered.
The problem of pet overpopulation is out of control. What can we possibly do about it? If each of us could encourage just one person to get their pet neutered, think of the difference it would make. A man recently told me that he has a male and a female kitten and he thinks they should have one litter because several of his friends want kittens. You know the statistics showing how many kittens will result from this one litter. A person wanting a kitten should walk among the kitten cages at the shelter. There are way too many adorable kittens just begging for homes and families.
Once again, the Arizona Humane Society will be in Payson on Tuesday, Sept. 19 through Thursday, Sept. 21, providing an opportunity for low-cost spay and neuter for dogs and cats. Call the Payson Humane Society for all the particulars, (928) 474-5590.
If you have a couple of hours a week to spare, volunteer at the humane society. If you are afraid that it will be too heartbreaking, you can answer the phone or help with laundry or mailings. The needs are great and so are the rewards. But wear your old clothes as you will get dirty. These dogs are just looking for the opportunity to love and be loved. Make their day.
Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC 1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.