Reading Series

Reading Series: Dogland – If You Build It, Will They Come?

doglandThis is a continuation of my Reading Series for the non-fiction book, Dogland, where I blog my thoughts and reactions to each chapter as I read through the book. Please feel free to read along or comment on the topics below!

This chapter is about fostering, which is when you temporarily home an animal from a shelter until the animal finds his or her forever home. I have known people to foster animals for as short as a day or two to long periods of time, such as months (or even longer!). Why is fostering animals important? At the beginning of the chapter, author Jacki Skole provides two key reasons: One, fostering saves lives; not only does it free up the shelter space for another animal, but it also gives particular animal more time to find a home. Two, fostering provides socialization for the animal, which is really important to ensure the animal can live a healthy and happy life.

If I didn’t have two cats who didn’t get along, I would foster another in a heartbeat. In the chapter, Jacki describes her own fostering experience – you’ll have to read the chapter to find out how that went!


Nike by The Bees / Flickr Creative Commons

“We can’t adopt our way out of the killing.” I think this is a profound quote from the chapter: As important as fostering is, it can’t – and won’t – be the only factor that reduces the amount of animals in shelters and shelter euthanasia rates.  So what can we, as animal advocates, do?

This is when a discussion on spay and neutering comes in. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to say that S&N will solve everything, in the real world, it’s not that easy to do. It’s a procedure that costs money. The cost alone prohibits some people from getting the procedure done on their pets. So, the obvious thing to do would be to offer free or low-cost S&N. But, as the chapter discusses (and I try not to reveal too much about each chapter because I want you to read the book, too!), the unfortunate reality is that some veterinarians haven’t been so amenable to that idea. In fact, there has been organized opposition from the veterinary community against legislation that would have brought free or low-cost S&N clinics to communities. While I understand the argument that vets are people too, and people need to make money to survive, it honestly irks me that there has been such opposition towards this important, life-saving procedure.

We shouldn’t let our greed get in the way of helping animals and directly saving lives.

The rest of the chapter explores this contentious issue of spay and neuter clinics; besides the matter of veterinary opposition, there is the difficulty of the public itself. It may not seem obvious but there are many hurdles to overcome in offering spay and neuter clinics, such as public outreach and education. For example, simply building a clinic won’t solve anything if the local community largely believes neutering male dogs is emasculating. The chapter addresses that problem, as well as others, and I believe that the discussion in those pages is a really important read for animal rescue advocates.

Ildar Sagdejev photo

Photo by Ildar Sagdejv. Creative Commons license.

At the end of the chapter, I like that we get brought back to the story of Jacki’s shelter dog, Galen. Remember, this book began all because Jacki was interested in learning about Galen’s history! Like most, if not all, pet parents, I often wonder about the lives of my two cats before they came to live with me. One of my pets, Raskol, is disabled and I have no idea how he survived the first two years of his life before he ended up at the NYC Animal Care and Control, which is a kill shelter. Was he on the street? In a home? In many homes? I’m very lucky that the ASPCA pulled him from the NYC kill shelter. But I don’t think just about Raskol or Lana, I think about their mothers – what happened to them?

Previous Posts:

Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press. Interested in a preview? A book excerpt is available here.



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