Think your job's traumatizing?
Does it include getting to know dogs and cats, then knowing that some of them are being euthanized in your workplace?
That's the bad reality haunting the good folks at the Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston. The scale of their heartbreak is especially heavy when two-legged critters — i.e., human beings — start turning pets into the shelter in steeply climbing numbers during summer vacation.
Taking the dog or cat along while taking a trip with the family takes more money, patience and other commodities than many of our kind are evidently willing to give. Thus, pets are frequently cast back into the purgatory of shelter life — and potential shelter death.
Some members of our species have justifiable, unavoidable reasons for giving up their pets in that manner.
Still, that's limited consolation to the shelter people absorbing the frontline blows of this annual late-June influx of unwanted animals. That seasonal glut, however, does enhance your chance to get a great pet from a great shelter.
I found Coco, a wonder-dog dachshund (or is she a dachs-hund mix?), at the Charleston Animal Society on Remount Road in October 2011. My family's glorious canine acquisition extended our long winning streak with that grand local institution.
Coco, who never pontificates in tedious harangues over Supreme Court rulings, is quite the spunky squirrel chaser, blanket burrower and general charmer. And the mere sight of her walking, and running, with me routinely inspires strangers to yell, “Weenie dog! Weenie dog!” — particularly on the Isle of Palms beach.
Hey, there's plenty more where she came from.
CEO Joe Elmore sounded this alarm Tuesday night to those on the animal society email list: “The shelter is designed to hold 263 animals. We're at 350 in the shelter and 450 in foster homes, totaling 800 animals. Over 500 of the 800 animals are kittens.”
And: “One year ago, we faced a similar challenge with over 600 animals in our system. We issued a plea for help and our community rallied to us. We emptied the adoption floor, placing 302 animals into homes. It was our finest hour!”
Striving to repeat that triumph, the animal society started offering fee-waived adoptions from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. That offer holds through Sunday.
So good luck to the Charleston Animal Society, and to other area shelters, in getting through the summer-vacation crush. Good luck to the animal society in its ambitious effort to become a “no kill” shelter by 2015.
And good for you if you realize that by adopting a pet, you're doing a lasting favor to both sides of that equation — and maybe even beyond.
Consider, for instance, this scene late last year in the little park by what's left of the old Pitt Street Bridge that once linked Mount Pleasant to the southwestern end of Sullivan's Island:
A listless old guy sat silently in a wheelchair, looking downright out of it. Several apparent family members, across at least three generations, made futile attempts to engage him as Coco and I strolled past toward the fishing dock. When we returned about 10 minutes later, the old guy, still seeming utterly oblivious, had been rolled back to a handicapped-access van.
Then suddenly the old guy spotted Coco and shouted, “Weenie dog! Weenie dog!”
So don't underestimate the unexpectedly big benefits that even a little dog can bring.
And don't undervalue the truly sweet deal the Charleston Animal Society is offering through Sunday.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.