In southern California, at least, it can be a brutal experience to go to an animal shelter, where overcrowding gives the residents a scant few days to live. I had last been to a shelter a decade ago, after one of our cats vanished. (We never found her.) I went last weekend because it was time to add more cats to the family. I wish I could have rescued all of the horrifyingly vast number of 5-, 10-, 15-year old dogs and cats I saw there, who have no clue how their lives took this terrible turn – and who have so little hope of adoption.
The death camp atmosphere in the shelters is not as pronounced as it was a decade ago. I believe that is thanks to the large number of dedicated shelter volunteers – who offset the effects of budget cuts – and because of a grassroots, growing, no-kill movement. There are folks who provide foster homes to dogs, cats, rabbits, and others, to buy them more time than the shelters can give them. In fact, some of the animals stay in foster homes for years. There have always been foster homes but the number and the network of them has increased considerably over the last decade. Another populist movement to appreciate!
Thank you to all the foster homes!