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I came across
Craigslist. I am not the writer of this
His name was
After I was discharged from the Navy, Jim and I moved back
to Detroit to use our GI bill benefits to get some schooling. Jim was
going for a degree in Electronics and I, after much debating, decided
to get mine in Computer Science.
One of the classes that was
a requirement was Speech. Like many people, I had no fondness for
getting up in front of people for any reason, let alone to be the
center of attention as I stuttered my way through some unfamiliar
subject. But I couldn't get out of the requirement, and so I found
myself in my last semester before graduation with Speech as one of my
classes. On the first day of class our professor explained to us that
he was going to leave the subject matter of our talks up to us, but
he was going to provide the motivation of the speech. We would be
responsible for six speeches, each with a different motivation. For
instance our first speech's purpose was to inform. He advised us to
pick subjects that we were interested in and knowledgeable about. I
decided to center my six speeches around animals, especially dogs.
For my first speech to inform, I talked about the equestrian
art of dressage. For my speech to demonstrate, I brought my German
Shepherd, Bodger, to class and demonstrated obedience commands.
Finally the semester was almost over and I had but one more speech to
give. This speech was to take the place of a written final exam and
was to count for fifty per cent of our grade. The speeches motivation
was to persuade. After agonizing over a subject matter, and keeping
with my animal theme, I decided on the topic of spaying and neutering
pets. My goal was to try to persuade my classmates to neuter their
pets. So I started researching the topic. There was plenty of
material, articles that told of the millions of dogs and cats that
were euthanized every year, of supposedly beloved pets that were
turned in to various animal control facilities for the lamest of
reasons, or worse, dropped off far from home, bewildered and scared.
Death was usually a blessing.
The final speech was looming
closer, but I felt well prepared. My notes were full of facts and
statistics that I felt sure would motivate even the most naive of pet
owners to succumb to my plea.
A couple of days before our
speeches were due, I had the bright idea of going to the local branch
of the Humane Society and borrowing a puppy to use as a sort of a
visual aid. I called the Humane Society and explained what I wanted.
They were very happy to accommodate me. I made arrangements to pick
up a puppy the day before my speech.
The day before my
speech, I went to pick up the puppy. I was feeling very confident. I
could quote all the statistics and numbers without ever looking at my
notes. The puppy, I felt, would add the final emotional touch.
I arrived at the Humane Society I was met by a young guy named Ron.
He explained that he was the public relations person for the Humane
Society. He was very excited about my speech and asked if I would
like a tour of the facilities before I picked up the puppy. I
enthusiastically agreed. We started out in the reception area, which
was the general public's initial encounter with the Humane Society.
The lobby was full, mostly with people dropping off various
animals that they no longer wanted. Ron explained to me that this
branch of the Humane Society took in about fifty animals a day and
adopted out only about twenty.
As we stood there I heard
snatches of conversation: "I can't keep him, he digs holes in my
garden." "They are such cute puppies, I know you will have
no trouble finding homes for them." "She is wild, I can't
control her." I heard one of Humane Society's volunteer explain
to the lady with the litter of puppies that the Society was filled
with puppies and that these puppies, being black, would immediately
be put to sleep. Black puppies, she explained, had little chance of
The woman who brought the puppies in just
shrugged, "I can't help it," she whined. "They are
getting too big. I don't have room for them." We left the
reception area. Ron led me into the staging area where all the
incoming animals were evaluated for adoptability. Over half never
even made it to the adoption center. There were just too many. Not
only were people bringing in their own animals, but strays were also
dropped off. By law the Humane Society had to hold a stray for three
days. If the animal was not claimed by then, it was euthanized, since
there was no background information on the animal. There were already
too many animals that had a known history eagerly provided by their
soon to be ex-owners. As we went through the different areas, I felt
more and more depressed. No amount of statistics, could take the
place of seeing the reality of what this throwaway attitude did to
the living, breathing animal. It was overwhelming. Finally Ron
stopped in front of a closed door. "That's it," he said,
"except for this."
I read the sign on the door.
"Euthanasia Area." "Do you want to see one?" he
asked. Before I could decline, he interjected, "You really
should. You can't tell the whole story unless you experience the
end." I reluctantly agreed. "Good." He said, "I
already cleared it and Peggy is expecting you." He knocked
firmly on the door. A middle-aged woman in a white lab coat opened it
immediately. "Here's the girl I was telling you about," Ron
explained. Peggy looked me over. "Well, I'll leave you here with
Peggy and meet you in the reception area in about fifteen minutes.
I'll have the puppy ready." With that Ron departed, leaving me
standing in front of the stern-looking Peggy. Peggy motioned me in.
As I walked into the room, I gave an audible gasp. The room was small
and spartan. There were a couple of cages on the wall and a cabinet
with syringes and vials of a clear liquid.
In the middle of
the room was an examining table with a rubber mat on top. There were
two doors other than the one I had entered. Both were closed. One
said to incinerator room, and the other had no sign, but I could hear
various animals' noises coming from behind the closed door. In the
back of the room, near the door that was marked incinerator were the
objects that caused my distress: two wheelbarrows, filled with the
bodies of dead kittens and puppies. I stared in horror. Nothing had
prepared me for this. I felt my legs grow weak and my breathing
become rapid and shallow. I wanted to run from that room, screaming.
Peggy seemed not to notice my state of shock. She started talking
about the euthanasia process, but I wasn't hearing her. I could not
tear my gaze away from the wheelbarrows and those dozens of pathetic
Finally, Peggy seemed to notice that I was not
paying attention to her. "Are you listening?" she asked
irritably. "I'm only going to go through this once." I tore
my gaze from the back of the room and looked at her. I opened my
mouth to say something, but nothing would come out, so I nodded. She
told me that behind the unmarked door were the animals that were
scheduled for euthanasia that day. She picked up a chart that was
hanging from the wall. "One fifty-three is next," she said
as she looked at the chart. "I'll go get him." She laid
down the chart on the examining table and started for the unmarked
door. Before she got to the door she stopped and turned around. "You
aren't going to get hysterical, are you?" she asked, "Because
that will only upset the animals." I shook my head. I had not
said a word since I walked into that room. I still felt unsure if I
would be able to without breaking down into tears. As Peggy opened
the unmarked door I peered into the room beyond. It was a small room,
but the walls were lined and stacked with cages. It looked like they
were all occupied. Peggy opened the door of one of the lower cages
and removed the occupant. From what I could see it looked like a
medium-sized dog. She attached a leash and ushered the dog into the
room in which I stood.
As Peggy brought the dog into the room
I could see that the dog was no more than a puppy, maybe five or six
months old. The pup looked to be a cross between a Lab and a German
shepherd. He was mostly black, with a small amount of tan above his
eyes and on his feet. He was very excited and bouncing up and down,
trying to sniff everything in this new environment. Peggy lifted the
pup onto the table. She had a card in her hand, which she laid on the
table next to me. I read the card. It said that number one
fifty-three was a mixed Shepherd, six months old. He was surrendered
two days ago by a family. Reason of surrender was given as "jumps
on children." At the bottom was a note that said "Name:
Peggy was quick and efficient, from lots of practice,
I guessed. She lay one fifty-three down on his side and tied a rubber
tourniquet around his front leg. She turned to fill the syringe from
the vial of clear liquid.
All this time I was standing at the
head of the table. I could see the moment that one fifty-three went
from a curious puppy to a terrified puppy. He did not like being held
down and he started to struggle. It was then that I finally found my
voice. I bent over the struggling puppy and whispered, "Sam.
Your name is Sam." At the sound of his name Sam quit struggling.
He wagged his tail tentatively and his soft pink tongue darted out
and licked my hand. And that is how he spent his last moment. I
watched his eyes fade from hopefulness to nothingness. It was over
very quickly. I had never even seen Peggy give the lethal shot. The
tears could not be contained any longer. I kept my head down so as
not to embarrass myself in front of the stoic Peggy. My tears fell
onto the still body on the table. "Now you know," Peggy
said softly. Then she turned away. "Ron will be waiting for you.
I left the room. Although it seemed like it had been hours,
only fifteen minutes had gone by since Ron had left me at the door. I
made my way back to the reception area. True to his word, Ron had the
puppy all ready to go. After giving me some instructions about what
to feed the puppy, he handed the carrying cage over to me and wished
me good luck on my speech. That night I went home and spent many
hours playing with the orphan puppy. I went to bed that night but I
could not sleep. After a while I got up and looked at my speech notes
with their numbers and statistics. Without a second thought, I tore
them up and threw them away. I went back to bed. Sometime during the
night I finally fell asleep.
The next morning I arrived at my
Speech class with Puppy Doe. When my turn came, I held the puppy in
my arms, I took a deep breath, and I told the class about the life
and death of Sam. When I finished my speech I became aware that I was
crying. I apologized to the class and took my seat. After class the
teacher handed out a critique with our grades. I got an "A."
His comments said "Very moving and persuasive."
days later, on the last day of class, one of my classmates came up to
me. She was an older lady that I had never spoken to in class. She
stopped me on our way out of the classroom. "I want you to know
that I adopted the puppy you brought to class," she said.
"His name is Sam."
Please Spay or Neuter your pet.
Glen Carbon IL Petsmart
First Saturday of every month
Florissant MO Petsmart
Saturday (except the first Saturday)