There are so many myths associated with animal shelters people rarely have any concept of what being involved in an animal shelter or Humane Society really is all about. A perfect example of this is the recent problems we have had with our outside/night drop off cages.We had a woman who was coming up to the shelter in the very early morning hours and simply releasing animals out of the cages. By releasing these animals they could very easily have been hit by a car, attacked by roaming dogs, or starved to death on the street. We were able to work with the Harlingen Police Department and the local media to identify this woman, and now have a Criminal Trespass order against her. We accept drop off's inside the shelter from 8:30-4:00 Monday through Friday and 8:30-3:00 Saturday and Sunday. The outside cages are intended for EMERGENCY situations only and are not intended to be a dumping ground for people who don’t wish to take responsibility for the animals they choose to allow to breed or the animals they are no longer interested in caring for.
Another monumental challenge is trying to explain to the public why there is not a viable “NO KILL” option in the Rio Grande Valley. There are rescue organizations who refer to themselves as “No Kill”, but these groups are able to pick the animals they take and only take animals they will be able to adopt out. The Humane Society of Harlingen is a public facility serving the City of Harlingen and its residents.
The absolute biggest misconception about the Humane Society of Harlingen, and shelters everywhere, is that we want to euthanize animals. Believe me when I say the last thing any person on my staff wants to do is put animals to sleep. It is by far the most difficult and heart-wrenching part of being employed in this type of facility. We vaccinate, feed, water, walk, bathe and care for these animals while they are in the shelter, then the managers and staff are forced to pull healthy, adoptable animals out of cages and put them to sleep. An average intake for our facility is 20‐40 animals a day, 365 days a year. Our shelter has very limited space, and even more limited resources to house and care for these animals and THAT is why we are forced to put these animals to sleep.
An additional myth related to the Harlingen Humane Society is that we are City run and City Funded. We are in a City of Harlingen building, and the City of Harlingen funds a percentage of our yearly budget in exchange for caring for their quarantine animals and handling all of the dogs and cats picked up by their Animal Control Officers. The City of Harlingen is not positioned to operate this facility, and if it were to be under their control it would be a holding facility/pound, not a Humane Society with animals available for adoption. The majority of the money it takes to operate the shelter comes from private donors and that is the only way we can continue the work we do here.
Every day I hear people in the shelter and in the community say things like “someone should do something about the animal problem”. Our shelter is staffed 365 days a year. We are open for adoptions 7 days a week. We take pets to PetSmart to showcase them for adoption, we go to pet friendly events and promote adoption. We work with the local media to showcase adoptable animals. We have a rescue coordinator who spends endless hours of her personal time networking animals to get them pulled from the shelter and then organizing and frequently transporting them herself to get them to the rescue groups who can take them. We go to as many school events as we can possibly go to in order to educate the young people on humane treatment and proper care of animals. We put on monthly vaccination clinics to provide affordable vaccines for the community. Everyone on the staff has fostered animals in their home on their time and at primarily their own expense. There is not a single person on my staff who has animals that are not spayed or neutered, we all set a responsible example for our community and practice what we preach.
Doing something can be as simple as sending a monetary donation, dropping off food or other items we need at the shelter or volunteering your time in the shelter or at PetSmart. Doing something can also mean being a responsible pet owner and spaying and neutering your own animals to prevent “accidental” breeding. Doing something can mean adopting a shelter pet instead of purchasing from people who are creating the over-population problems in your community for their own financial gain. And most of all, doing something means taking a stand in your community to make a difference for the animals who have no voice.
Kim R. Warunek
PLEASE SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS and help reduce euthanasia numbers in shelters!
Any questions? Please call us at: 956-425-SNIP(7647) or email us at: Harlingenhumanesociety@yahoo.com