Staring Into the Abyss 1


To say last year was Hell would be the mother of all understatements. It was horrible. It was wretched. It was the kind of year that I don’t want to think of because every time that I think of anything from it, I want to scream or cry to tear my heart out. I want to get that hurt and anger out of me. I want to run from it. I don’t want it to every be anywhere near me.

But I can’t get away from it. It is a part of me. It’s a part of my history. It’s a part of the collective history of people around me. It isn’t something that I can throw away or pretend never happened because it did happen.

I’ve known for a few months now that Alice went to an adoptive home. I know that she’s supposedly very happy right now. And I’m starting to be okay with that. I’ve also known that Willow and Molly went to a basset rescue in Florida. They’re with their foster families now and they’re supposedly very happy. And I want them to be very happy because that makes my heart feel a bit less heavy. I still love them. They still mean the world to me and I want them to be happy forever.

We haven’t known the outcome for Gretchen until today.

My dad went by the Huntsville Animal Shelter today, and asked about Gretchen. We’ve been worried for months. I’d called and they said they didn’t know. I’d looked daily on Petfinder for her since the day my parents signed her over. That was how I eventually found Molly and Willow. That was how my dad found Alice. Gretchen, though, never ended up on there. And that always worried us.

On May 29, just 11 few days after my parents were told that they either had to sign the four girls over to the city or pay a $1000+ bill, Gretchen was put to sleep because “no one wanted her” and they had to make room for other dogs. Gretchen, the little girl who we got after reading about how her jaw had been been broken by her owner when she was a few months old, is gone. She’s been gone. They didn’t even try to find someone for her. They didn’t even give her enough time so that maybe some family might come in and see her and love her like we did. Apparently, the policy in Huntsville is that an animal can be “disposed of” within three days or “at the director’s discretion”. It shouldn’t surprise me that it wasn’t the full two weeks that the local myth says. After all, we were told on the 18th of May that we would have a week (7 days) to visit and to say goodbye, before being told on the 21st of May that we couldn’t come back after that day. This was the city that told us that we would get them back. This was the city that promised that they weren’t even going to take them. They promised that before they even came in the house in April. I told them that they could come in, but I had asked first and they told me that they wouldn’t. They promised me that they wouldn’t. And then they promised that we wouldn’t lose them. They promised then and I cried. And they promised me again and again and I am still crying because my heart is broken.

I get that Alice is cute and that made her adoptable. I get that Molly and Willow are full-blooded Bassets and that made them adoptable. What was wrong with Gretchen to make no one want her? She was sweet and vulnerable, but protective. She loved with all of her heart and she was so innocent. Surely they could have at least tried to find someone. Or they could have given me the time I asked for to find homes for them.

Gretchen aka Gigipoo -- Alice in the background

I know that she got depressed and sick while she was in their care. I know that’s why she got skinny. (She was depressed and got a cold and ended up dropping so much weight that she became a bit gaunt.) I know that she got sad when they took her sissies away. I know she probably felt alone. I know she probably felt unloved. All she ever wantede was to feel loved and to be wanted, and in her last days on earth, she didn’t feel that way. Knowing that is one of the worst parts.

I wonder if she had a panic attack the night before. I had told the shelter every time that we visited that if there were storms or fireworks that she would have panic attacks. And the day before was Memorial Day. That’s a big fireworks day. What if someone lit fireworks and she ended up biting someone or hurting herself or something? All they needed to do was give her a safe place and, sometimes, a tranquilizer. They just had to soothe her. And I won’t ever know. I won’t know if it was was because “no one wanted her” or they needed space or they didn’t think she was adoptable or if she bit them or if it was something else entirely.

But I do know now that I no longer have to worry about her. I don’t have to worry that someone’s holding her if a storm comes through. I don’t have to worry about her having crappy neighbors that break the laws regarding fireworks and scaring her half to death. I don’t have to worry about her anxiety anymore because I know she doesn’t feel that. And that should give me some comfort.

I also know that, according to a disability activist, who has been told the whole thing sans the Gretchen-being-put-to-sleep part, the dogs being taken from us (when we told the animal control officers about our disabilities) and the lies we were told, then the bill be slapped on us is kind of on shaky legal ground. So…if I wanted I might be able to file a complaint or something, but that would probably just draw the ire of some other city department. It just seems so wrong that this kind of stuff happened. I know that our house was a mess. I know that we were too poor to have the dogs. I know these things, but I also know that it’s wrong to use someone’s vulnerabilities against them when it comes to this stuff.

100_1339 Basset Babies

Side Note – If you’re in or near Gainesville and you’re a good person who is willing to take in Molly and Willow, please consider adopting them and reuniting part of our broken family. When their shelter says Molly isn’t house-trained, that is very true, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on our parts. Ten years of walks, including ones that lasted around a mile, didn’t get her trained. If we did something that she didn’t approve of, she would get down and pee in our direction. It was her way of giving the finger. Freud probably would have had a field day with Molly’s potty habits. The abuse part happened before us and the crate thing wasn’t true, since Molly slept on a king-sized bed and bossed us around. (Willow had her chair.) Oh, and where it says that Molly’s feelings towards cats is unknown. It is well-known. She likes cats, but not in the cuddly way. According to the shelter we got her from, she liked to try to eat them. Since she would try to chase them down outside on walks, I believe that. They do have health problems (Willow with thyroid and heart issues; Molly gets tumors that are supposedly benign) and you would need to be able to afford their care if you take them in. I just want them to be with one another again because I think that that would be best for them.


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.


One thought on “Staring Into the Abyss

  • Kate

    I honestly don’t know what to say. Being a fellow animal lover and loving my pets just as dearly, I can’t imagine your pain so I won’t pretend to try.

    I WILL however, say this. If it is ‘shaky ground’, and you can make a complaint, I would get all the information you can together and proceed. Because you and your family are good people. And you didn’t deserve to be treated this way. It just makes me so angry.

    And isn’t it ironic how the people and places who claim to ‘do what’s best for the welfare of animals’, nearly always end up making the most shittiest choices? I myself have been personally let down by certain animal welfare societies and charities and my feelings towards them have completely changed. What you see and what they portray, is only the tip of the iceberg, in some cases.

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