“You know how you feel looking in, but imagine how they feel looking out.” Signs all over the cages at the Franklin County Dog Shelter read messages like this. I look around; I see dogs jumping, excited to see someone with a leash that has the job to take them out. I see sad, confused eyes looking back at me, wondering where they are and what is going on. I have always loved dogs, animals have been a huge passion of mine for years. Before I started volunteering at my local shelter, I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to help dogs, such as making educational art to inform about the many problems in an animal advocate’s world: breed discrimination, dog fighting, spay and neutering. The list goes on and on.
Not long after I turned seventeen, I finally convinced my mom to let me volunteer at our county shelter. I took a Saturday off of work to go to an orientation. I was prepared to be saddened by the statistics that were about to be shared with me, but I was wrong. My local shelter does not euthanize for space or breed discriminate; it was meant to be. I also found out some almost unlucky news: the next week a rule was going into effect that you had to be eighteen to walk dogs, but I would be grandfathered in. Later that month, after I finished all my dog handling classes; I was walking dogs.
My first time was rough, but I worked through it. After an hour of being there I fell in love with all the pitbulls, not being able to understand what could be giving them such a bad reputation. I was eager to educate anyone on why breed discrimination should not be happening. I got involved with my local rescues and fellow pitbull lovers as much as I could.
Unfortunately, a tragic event happened at the end of August 2016. A dog had distemper in the shelter, which is a very contagious sickness. Due to this, the shelter was on lockdown. One hundred dogs were killed without getting tested. Many volunteers and the community assumed that the reason these dogs were being put down was because they were “bully” breeds. This was devastating to the staff and volunteers, so we took action. Protests were formed and meetings were held for the volunteers and workers that were grieving from the unneeded massacre of our dogs. We had worked so hard to make the time at the shelter not so horrible for these animals.
Before I started volunteering I was just an animal lover, now I am a dog advocate. I want everyone to know pit bulls are not bred to be mean, just trained to be that way. I will help in this cause by continuing to volunteer at shelters and making art to enlighten others about how loving and amazing these dogs are and to help end breed discrimination.