Unhappy Tales

Irresponsible pet owners shift a heavy burden onto those who care

Some people are just in it for the money. So they breed animals like products on an assembly line, caring for the critters about like you’d care for a piece of factory equipment.

A puppy mill, as some such operations are called, “is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs,” says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

This is not the story of CSRA Happy Tails rescue.

The shelter in Appling, in fact, was recently given passing grades by the state for “six categories of animal care, including adequate food and water and humane care,” our colleague Barry Paschal wrote this week.

Nor does anyone we know harbor any suspicion that operator Barbara Gleitsmann has anything but the noblest of motives in having run the shelter for 10 years.

Yet, apparently due to chronic violations stretching back to last summer, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has ordered the private no-kill shelter closed and its animals farmed out by March 18.

We don’t know if this is a bureaucracy run amok, or if things really were that bad. But the state cited problems with paperwork, sanitation, pest control and waste disposal. And last fall, WRDW-TV reported that, “What (investigators) found may shut down CSRA Happy Tails Rescue.”

Again, it must be noted that the state report found that, “The animals here do appear to be receiving humane care. They all have adequate food and water and shelter.” But it also noted that, “The number of animals housed at the facility is excessive for a facility of this size.” One report noted 56 animals.

And Gleitsmann allegedly mixed the rescue population with family pets from her boarding kennel business, Whiskers Resort.

Gleitsmann has her critics and shortcomings, certainly.

But at bottom, this appears to be a case where her heart and her shelter were both too big. If animals suffered as a result, then action was warranted.

As one observer noted, that action might have included setting a size limit on the shelter rather than shutting it down. But officials have done what they felt necessary.

This unhappy tale is a cautionary one, in several ways.

First, that even the best intentions can go awry if you try to do too much.

Second, that it’s easy to try to do too much for cats and dogs, which are gifts from God that human beings too often abuse and neglect. And the national problem of homeless animals is absolutely overwhelming. It always has been, but in a chronic down economy it may have gotten light years’ worse. Good, well-meaning families struggling to make it sometimes end up joining the highly irresponsible animal owners in flooding shelters with needy little creatures.

“The Kansas City, Missouri, shelter and Independence shelter are both in crisis mode on nearly a daily basis,” says a November 2012 story at Examiner.com. “The pets keep coming and there just aren’t enough kennels for them all.”

It would help if folks would just spay and neuter and provide basic care for their pets.

In the alternative, those who do provide will be carrying a weight that sometimes makes them fall.

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