On August 1, 2007 a large litter of giant mixed puppies was born in a muddy wet backyard in a small town. The shelter available for the puppies and mom was woefully inadequate. The breeding was intentional and the mother was in ill health after having given birth to another large litter only six months earlier.
Unfortunately the mother dog died when the pups were still quite young. By the time the litter was eight weeks old several of the pups had been given away. The owners became tired and bored with the responsibility and expense of raising the rest of the rapidly growing puppies. The puppies were taken to the local animal shelter (not in our county) in November to await their fate. There is always hope that the cute little puppies will find a new home. The reality is that there never seems to be enough good forever homes available no matter how hard shelters work to find them.
These young pups soon found themselves in a very crowded shelter environment and it was decision making time for the shelter staff. Crowded facilities, length of time at the shelter and potential health risks added up to a death sentence for these puppies. While we use the terms “euthanasia” and “putting animals to sleep” these words are simply euphemisms for killing unwanted animals. The animals at this shelter are killed using an overdose of a barbiturate, which when done properly is a very humane method of euthanasia.
The puppies that were left at the shelter were euthanized on November 12. 2007. The bodies of the animals euthanized that day were placed in barrels in a walk in freezer until they were to be disposed of at a later date.
Four days later, a shelter employee walked into the freezer and found a puppy alive and crying in a barrel, sticking her head up over the bodies of the dead puppies on top of her. She was covered in urine and feces. Her hind quarters were swollen and stiff from reduced blood flow and cold. She had received too little euthanasia solution and the bodies of the other animals had kept her warm enough to allow her to metabolize the chemicals in her body and wake up.
The shelter worker alerted her supervisor to this situation and she was ordered to take the puppy to the vet to have it euthanized again properly. The young women took the dog to the vet to have it checked and refused to have her euthanized again. Local government officials were very unhappy about this turn of events and wanted the puppy “rechecked” by the local veterinarians. By this time the puppy had been spirited away into protective custody.
This story has a happy ending. The happy ending is that the “Puppy that Lived” has become an active part of the Humane Society of Johnson County Education program. She visits classrooms of students to share her story. Her life story is one of abuse and horror at the beginning and a warm bed to sleep in and lots of canine and human companions to share a happy life with today. She provides a wonderful contrast for children to learn about the most important aspects of responsible pet ownership. The puppy’s name is Mira, short for Miracle, because it truly is a miracle that she survived her ordeal.
Mira’s story allows the volunteer educators of the Humane Society to open discussion of the four most important points of our Mission. Those are to:
- Promote adoptions;
- Educate adults and children about responsible pet ownership;
- Teach people about the importance of the human and companion-animal bond;
- Spay / neuter your pets;
Mira’s story has a happy ending. The other animals that were euthanized that day are another matter. They were killed because of an irresponsible pet owner that chose to produce a litter and then chose not to be responsible in caring for the puppies they produced. This is not an isolated scenario. Millions of animals are euthanized in our country each year.
The Humane Society urges you to become involved.
- First: Be a responsible pet owner.
- Second: Teach your family and friends by your example how to make a difference for animals in your community. Share your experiences with your family pet with others so that they can become more aware of how much animals can impact our daily lives.
- Third:Spay or neuter your pets to avoid producing more unwanted animals in your community.
- Fourth: Adopt an unwanted dog or cat and provide a forever home.
We encourage you to share Mira’s story and to join the Humane Society today and help us save more lives!