For those of you who don’t know, my name is Emma and I have loved dogs since forever. Currently, I foster dogs from the Maricopa County shelter and volunteer at the shelter itself. When I’m not hanging out with dogs, I’m at school earning a combined bachelors/masters degree from Arizona State University.
This blog, familytoo, was a concept I created after a picture of a dog left out on a couch by its owners went viral. This got me thinking. Every night, a Facebook page called Friends of Arizona’s Shelter Animals posts an “e-list” of all the animals set to be euthanized the next morning at 5am. At least 20 pictures go up every night, but usually closer to 60 or 70 when you combine the numbers from both the east and west shelters. Many of these dogs are rescued by local rescue groups or dog-loving citizens. Many aren’t.
When couch-dog made his way to the Humane Society, the organization fielded hundreds of calls about when the dog would be up for adoption. Having seen countless dogs go unnoticed on the e-list every night, this made my heart heavy. Here was a dog that just happened to be in the right place in the right time. How could I recreate that for the other dogs at the shelter?
The dogs that get to me the most are the owner surrenders. One of my favorite foster dogs of all time was an owner surrender and let me tell you they are heartbreaking. Dogs that come from living every day of their lives in warm houses with people to call their own do not do well in the shelter. They shut down, they act out…they wait for their people to come back.
My idea was borne from another viral sensation: dog shaming. The idea of dog shaming is pretty simple. Dogs do bad things and their humans hang signs around their necks (or just put signs next to them, for the more uncooperative canines) detailing their misdeed(s) on a piece of paper. But what if the dog did something wrong and was turned into the shelter? What if the dog did nothing wrong and was turned into the shelter? How could I capture the heartbreak of a dog who was dumped at the shelter? How can a dog understand that they were disposable? That they were not family, too?
What I came up with was this blog. I’m hoping that these pictures make people feel–just like the picture of couch-dog. I’m hoping that this will make a difference. I’m hoping to get some dogs a second chance.
Will you help?
I’m asking people to share these pictures far and wide with the hashtag #familytoo (or without, but it’s easier for me to keep track of how far it gets if I have a hashtag). That’s it. I don’t need your money, just a couple seconds of your time. It would really mean the world to me. And these dogs.
Though I volunteer with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, all views expressed are my own.