Why not to breed...
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Thread: Why not to breed...

  1. #1

    Default Why not to breed...

    To those who come across this, and are thinking of breeding their pet store rats, let me tell you a story about one of the best little rats in the world who will have a tragic end, due to a human thinking breeding pet store rats was okay.



    Her name is Lil'Bit, and she is the best rat I have ever come across. She's the perfect blend of sweet and feisty, she's an enthusiastic "rodentist" and fingernail groomer, absolutely loves humans and ridding on shoulders and has a heart made of gold.

    Sadly, she probably won't live more than another week or two.



    She has Megacolon, and in a rat this young, it is always fatal. There will soon come a point where she will be in too much pain and will be suffering. If we let nature continue, her intestine will rupture, and she will die of septicemia.

    We are trying, for a few days, the treatment that has helped only a few rats (generally late-onset, which Lil'Bit obviously doesn't have). We know it's not going to work, but she WANTS to live, so we will do what we can to try. She puts up with it all with no complaints, and hops onto our hands with glee, even if it's to "torture" her with massage. But sadly, we will probably end up having her put to sleep very soon. It breaks my heart.

    Megacolon is a genetic disease, and any good breeder stays as far away from encountering it as possible. Most people who breed without knowing what they're doing, breed the "cute" rats - the high-white blazes and whatnot.



    Sadly, that's what happened with Lil'Bit. Her mom, dad and older brothers and sisters were dumped on Rattie Love Rescue. Mama, still with dad [despite us being told males and females were separated] when they arrived at the quarantine house, was only 2 days away from popping Lil'Bit's litter, we didn't get mama into for an e-spay in time. 3 died in the first week, which may have been for the best. Lil'Bit pulled through and has made it to 5 weeks... But will probably not make it another week more. She is 1/3rd the size of her siblings - who are, happily, healthy. It's too bad Lil'Bit won't get the chance to grow up, go to a new wonderful home, and enjoy life.

    We do what we can, but it won't be good enough in the end. We're stretching our funds thin, but it doesn't matter. Whatever happens to this little girl, she has touched our hearts so deeply. We only wish she had the chance to continue doing so.

    Please don't breed. Rescuers like us have large hearts and they break every time a case like this is dumped into our hands. It could have and SHOULD have been prevented.



    ***

    Thanks so much, everyone.

    It's with a heavy heart that I tell you that the sweetest rat I ever knew, Lil'Bit, died peacefully in her sleep shortly before we were to take her to be put to sleep.

    We will be dedicating the mission of Rattie Love Rescue to her memory, for all the rats that have and will be lost because humans breed them without thought.
    Rattie Love Rescue
    <br />Website - Petfinder - Gift Shop

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Why not to breed...

    In June of last year, after much searching, my fiancee and I went to TN to meet a breeder and pick up two 17 week old rats, a rex hooded female dumbo and an odd eyed, varigated blue male. When we got there, we were greeted with a yard full of trash, sick or injured horses, mud, and filth.

    A young boy came outside and we told him we were there to pick up two rats from the rat breeder. He went inside and then came out with two shoe boxes, with fork prong holes in the top and sides. It wasn't until a few moments later that we found out this boy, no more than 12, was the 'breeder' we'd been speaking to, although his parents had been writing the emails for him.

    Not wanting to disappoint, we were going to take the rats anyway. Upon questioning him about the family history, we found they were only 4 generations removed from petstore rats. He didn't know genetics, nor his proper colors, and in fact neither rat was as described. The female was a black hooded standard earred rex and the male was a wedge blazed black male with black eyes. Not odd-eyes.

    His mother came out and pleaded with us to take more rats because he had too many. Apparently he'd kept breeding when they didn't have homes for all the babies they already had. Upon entering their home, we were assaulted with the smell of many unwashed cages. There was a cage of rabbits and ferrets (yes, both mixed together!) in one cage with feces piled high, and 2 cages of young male and female rats, side by side, not an inch apart. They were the 'family' rats.

    We asked to see the 'rat room' and they wouldn't let us. We could smell them from their location in the basement, so we know it was horrible. The boy brought up an old, filthy blue male rat. We'd have taken him, but he didn't want to part with him. We stood around for a while longer, talking, and never saw another rat.

    We finally left, with my prompting because my asthma was going haywire and drove away. Not 10 minutes later, I reached into the males carrier to pet him. He was ok until I got to about the middle of his back, where he promptly sank his teeth into my hand. I tried again and he nearly bit me again, so I decided to give him some time to settle down.

    Thus I tried to pet the female. She never bit me, but she was absolutely terrified. She squeaked and screamed and huddled in the corner of the cage, looking so scared I stopped trying. She had obviously not been handled as a baby.

    The male's aggression issues were only partially solved after a nueter. He can still be a bit of a nibbler. He just doesn't outright bite any more. The female took several months rehabilitation before she would let you handle her. And even then, she was never fully what she could have been.

    Sadly, the female rex died yesterday evening. Undoubtedly from bad genetics, as this type of problem is often genetic, she developed a pituitary tumor. She went blind and eventually her lymphnodes near the tumor abcessed. Then her eyes swelled shut and blood started leaking out of her eye and ear. She was humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.

    It is occasions like this that spurn us to tell people not to breed their rats because they want to raise 'pretty' babies. Or because they think it would be fun, or cool. Every day that I think of that Astrid suffered. Every time i had to hear her scream when I would force her to let me handle her, to tame her, every time she cowered from me when ever I tried to touch her, I know... It all could have been avoided. Had someone tried to breed the right way.
    Rodere Rattery-
    <br />http://rodererattery.150m.com
    <br />Expecting our first litter in January!
    <br />Please watch our site for adoptable rescue rats as well!

  4. #3

    Default Re: Why not to breed...

    my story isn't as heart wrenching as kimmie's and rodere's but it does give reason why not to breed.

    a couple of years ago i got 2 girls (Spider and Snicketts) from a petstore. 3 weeks later they gave me 24 more babies. on May 3 Spider had 13 babies and May 4th Snicketts had 11. now i didn't breed them, it was just chance that i had them at my home and recognized that they were pregnant early on. as soon as i suspected that they were pregnant i did as much research as i could. i gather everything i would need if i had to hand raise them, called the only vet at the time that would deal with rats in my area and warned them i may need them in an emergency and tried to prepare myself as best i could. i got a friend to help me make nurseries with a couple tanks i had and gathered as many cages as i could get my hands on to mish-mash into a larger cage for boys and to expand the one i had for my girls. i had no money and could not afford nice spacious cages so did what i could. the cages were still too small of course but it was all i could do. prepared as best i could i waited and watched.

    when the babies came spider (the better socailized and more secure of the two) was fine with letting me handle them. she would even drop a couple into my hand before going off to roam (the babies were only 2 days old when she started doing this). Snicketts (who i was never able to get to completely trust people) on the other hand wouldn't let me near the babies. she was afraid to bite me but she did bite and she did draw blood. i figured this was just going to be while the babies were young. and that was true, when the babies got older she would try to bite less, by the time they opened their eyes, snicketts didn't really care if i handled them. these mothers had the best food while they were pregnant and nursing. the litters though large were never abandoned and the mothers doted on them. there wasn't one runt in the litter until much later and even then she evenutally caught up.

    fast forward a bit to after they are all 5 months old and have homes of their own (expect for 2 who were still in shelter and did not find a home until they 8 months old). snicketts boys are all having issues with other males, neutering does not help. some of them are fine with their brothers. one is not.

    as a baby Deuteronomy (deuter for short) was a real sweetheart and such a sound sleeper. he was the dopy little goof of the clan. he loved his food and everyone elses. you could open the cage door when he was sleeping and move him across the room and he would still be asleep. he was always the brunt of Wallace's (spider's son) practical jokes but took them in stride. then he started to get his hormones. he starts pushing his brothers around more then is normally expected (something he never did to begin with). he started nipping and eventually really biting. so his owner, with my urging, had him neutered. this did not help. he continued to get more and more aggressive until you couldn't open the cage door without him lunging for you. he was having serious fights with his brothers and cousins and almost kills Emmett (nearly 2 pound boy and the biggest in the litter) before the owner can get them separated. he was separated from the males he had grown up (he was never introduced to anyone new). you still could not handle him. if you got too close to cage walking by he would attack you. he was eventually humanely put down (he was nearly 10 months old). but he was sweetheart and big squishy pushover as a baby.

    very few other brothers could stand any other rats that they hadn't grown up with. some of the sisters had the same issue. none to the extent of deuter but enough to cause problems that shouldn't have happened. they were handled as often as i could handle them from birth (not as often as spider's but still at least once a day, sometimes with a bite from mom for my trouble).

    it doesn't surprise me the problems snicketts children had with their temperments though. some of you may have heard me refer to her as my autistic rat in the past. this rat HATED change. ANY change. a few degrees different in the room, a few minutes late waking up and greeting them in the morning and she would be cranky, prone to nipping and would sulk in the bottom right hand corner of the cage. cage cleaning day was HORRIBLE on her. when she was 20 months old she developed mammory tumors. we could have treated them with medications and/or and operation but we were fairly certain they were cancerous (she had particulary out of sorts recently as well). Snicketts personaility was such that her quality of life was already abismal, she would not have stood for any medications or dealt with surgery. i had her put down then instead.

    but as it turns out, a lot of her children ended up with tumors as well. many of the boys with internal ones that were only caught by chance during the neuter surgery. some re-occured and died from them.

    spider's side, though they had no temperment problems, were all genetically obese. even on diets the boys were nearly 2 pounds, those not on strict diets were close to 3 pounds. all the babies were fat as was she. many of them died of tumor related problems and a few had what was suspected to be heart attacks. the ones that didn't die from that died from respiratory illnesses that they were never able to beat regardless of drug treatment or early intervention. Spider lived to be 30 months old and just when we thought we had the respiratory issues cleared she died of wat we suspect to be a heart attack.

    all of these rats were sweet babies. all were handled from day one. their mothers were on the recommended high protein diets when they were pregnant and nursing. some grew to be mean or problematic adults regardless. and most died of genetic related illnesses. i did not breed them, the pet store did but they bred without genetic knowledge or discretion and those problems showed clearly in those babies though other then genetics, they had the best care possible at the time.
    We rode the tide of life together and we will brave the waves of death together and in the next life we will have smooth sailing. -- Bribery march 8, 2007-august 19, 2008
    <br />
    <br />proud momma to: Corvis (human), Sesshoumaru (cat), Violet, Minion (cat), Ink, Eyes, Stewart, Smeag, Tasche, Magi, Chop Suey, Serraphim, Chancey, Romar & Wagner
    <br />Rest easy: Snowball (cat), Lyiint, Pocket, Nezumi, Dust, Myght, Snicketts, Iedani, Spider, Sweet-ums, Kakushi, Lydia, Tween, Babydoll, Rosie, Zen, Guildenstern (Guild), Bribery, Twix & Sweetipie

  5. #4

    Default Re: Why not to breed...

    I wanted to pass some information on about another experience I'd had with petstore rats. I had gone for a while without rats as pets and my fiancee fell in love with one at a petstore. A couple of weeks later, I got one for myself as well, a buddy to the first. Their names were Jazmyne and Sophie.

    Everything started out fine. Jazmyne eventually got the first, of a long string, of myco flareups. She would crackle when she breathed and act like she felt horrible, almost like she had a cold. The vet would put her on cephalexin liquid and it would eventually go away. She would do this at least once every 2 months.

    All rats have myco (except specifically bred lab rats), but some are more prone to 'flareups' than others. Jazmyne was one of them. Then, when she was about 7 months old, Jazmyne developed a problem with her feet. We thought at first it was bumblefoot, but the symptoms weren't entirely the same. The vet determined that she had a 'deep infection' in her feet. Her little foot swelled nearly to the thickness of my thumb! Two weeks later, while the other foot was still horribly swollen, the other started to swell as well! She was on medication for weeks before it finally went down, but the swelling never entirely went down in her left ankle and she had reduced mobility in her left foot.

    Every couple months, about the time she'd have a myco flareup, her foot would swell a little. About another 6 months later, her foot swelled up again (although this time we caught it sooner). The same lengthy procress ensued and eventually the swelling went down again, for the most part.

    Unfortunately, about the same time, Jazmyne began developing mammory tumors. We had the first removed ($205) and everything went fine. Then she started getting one on the inside of her left leg, which unfortunately was inoperable. Not long afterward, we found another growing underneathe her left arm. We opted not to have it removed because the other could not be. She was ok for several more months, while the tumors continued to grow and expand.

    She suffered many URIs (myco flareups most likely) through the last 3 months of her life. Almost every 2 weeks. The tumor by her leg became so large she could barely walk. The skin was stretched beyond belief. The one under her arm restricted her some, but not nearly as much as the other.

    Around that same time frame, Sophie too began to develope a tumor, in the tissue of her rib cage, which was inoperable as well. It was attached to her ribs and removing it would likely kill her. She'd been healthy aside from two URIs to that point. The tumor became hard and started growing faster, so it was likely malignant.

    Jazmyne and Sophie were euthanized together approximately 3-4 months ago. We couldn't have asked for a sweeter pair of girls. Honestly, I have no regrets in getting them. My only regret is that they couldn't have been born to a good breeder, so maybe their lives would have been somehow better.. Jazmyne may never have been so sick, or have tumors.. and Sophie would never have to worry about her best and only buddy being in distress or discomfort.

    Had they been selectively bred, those things are likely to never have occured. They were precious to us and we are htankful for them. But we wish they could have been healthier. And the only way to do that is through carefully monitored breedings.
    Rodere Rattery-
    <br />http://rodererattery.150m.com
    <br />Expecting our first litter in January!
    <br />Please watch our site for adoptable rescue rats as well!

  6. #5

    Default Why not to Breed

    cross-posted from: http://ratforum.com/Forums/viewtopic/p=48472.html#48472

    Options at animal shelters

    Date: 2007-11-12, 3:32PM EST


    I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge "Wake-up" call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will.

    First off, this is a forum to for adoption and/or rehoming as clearly stated in the rules. All of you breeders/sellers on craigslist should not only be flagged (and I hope the good people on craigslist will continue to do so with blind fury), but you should be made to work in the "back" of an animal shelter for just one day.

    Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don't even know that puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it's not a cute little puppy anymore.

    So how would you feel if you knew that there's about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not!

    About 50% of all of the dogs that are "owner surrenders" or "strays", that come into my shelter are purebred dogs.


    The most common excuses I hear are; "We are moving and we can't take our dog (or cat)." Really?

    Where are you moving too that doesn't allow pets?

    Or they say "The dog got bigger than we thought it would".

    How big did you think a German Shepherd would get?

    "We don't have time for her".

    Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs!

    "She's tearing up our yard". How about making her a part of your family?

    They always tell me "We just don't want to have to stress about finding a place for her we know she'll get adopted, she's a good dog".

    Odds are your pet won't get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is?

    Well, let me tell you your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn't full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy if it sniffles, it dies.

    Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals.

    It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it.

    If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk.

    If I don't, your pet won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

    If your dog is big, black or any of the "Bully" breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door.


    Those dogs just don't get adopted. If your dog doesn't get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed.

    If the shelter isn't full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution not for long though.

    Most get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment.

    If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don't have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment.

    Here's a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being "put-down". First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash they always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails.

    Until they get to "The Room", every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door it must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it's strange, but it happens with every one of them.

    Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process they will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the "pink stuff".

    Hopefully your pet doesn't panic from being restrained and jerk I've seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and deafened by the yelps and screams.

    They all don't just "go to sleep", sometimes spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

    When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed waiting to be picked up like garbage.

    What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food?

    You'll never know and it probably won't even cross your mind it was just an animal and you
    can always buy another one, right?

    I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can't get the pictures out of your head I do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.

    My point to all of this DON'T BREED OR BUY WHILE SHELTER PETS DIE!

    Hate me or flag me if you want to. The truth hurts and reality is what it is. I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this thing on craIgslist and it made me want to adopt. THAT WOULD MAKE IT WORTH IT.
    We rode the tide of life together and we will brave the waves of death together and in the next life we will have smooth sailing. -- Bribery march 8, 2007-august 19, 2008
    <br />
    <br />proud momma to: Corvis (human), Sesshoumaru (cat), Violet, Minion (cat), Ink, Eyes, Stewart, Smeag, Tasche, Magi, Chop Suey, Serraphim, Chancey, Romar & Wagner
    <br />Rest easy: Snowball (cat), Lyiint, Pocket, Nezumi, Dust, Myght, Snicketts, Iedani, Spider, Sweet-ums, Kakushi, Lydia, Tween, Babydoll, Rosie, Zen, Guildenstern (Guild), Bribery, Twix & Sweetipie

  7. #6

    Default Re: Why not to breed...

    Other people have posted their stories up on this thread, and I thought I might share mine:

    About three to four months ago, Emily's rat Zizzle got into the cage with her boy Zuzu. We found her there in the morning and we knew for sure that what we dreaded the most had happened - there was no way it couldn't have. We nearly prayed that Zuzu was just too old to be fertile, but we were doubtful. Thankfully, Zizzle was JUST the right age to bear a litter, so we took a little comfort in hoping that it wouldn't go as horribly for her as it might have otherwise if she were younger.
    Fast forward a week and Zizzle's getting really aggressive with her poor sister Zap. Emily ended up having to separate them. In the meantime, we were doing our research and trying to prepare and plan ahead for the new babies as much as we could. We started trying to line up homes the second we knew for sure she was pregnant. We accepted it entirely as our responsibility and didn't ask for help. Emily worked hard to clean all of the cages, give her rats adequate attention, and feed them all right, especially Zizzle. Zizzle was beginning to get cage aggressive, and Emily was beginning to get exhausted from juggling all of her priorities already. However, she did it, and she did a good job.
    Another two weeks and Zizzle had a little of ten - a lot of mouths to feed, but we were so relieved it wasn't more. The litter was fine - they were all healthy, mom went through the labor without any troubles, and she took great care of them. We handled them from day one. Emily set up a regimen for daily handling and checking up on them while mom played and tried her best to keep it regular. While I was at her house for the weekends, most of our time was dedicated to the rats.
    After their eyes opened, and when they could run around and cause trouble of their own, I took them in for a while to give Emily a break, and let me tell you, it was not easy. It was a lot of effort to just handle them all as much as I needed to - I had to clean their cage daily, and they went through a ridiculous amount of food for the short amount of time that I had them. However, they were all healthy and happy.
    When I was reading up on caring for litters, I'd read a lot about megacolon and how common it is, especially with blue hooded rats (which Zuzu is - mom is PEW). So I knew to keep watch for signs early on, and when to pay closest attention.
    Sadly, it was the one little girl rat that Emily was most attached to that ended up the victim of megacolon. Her name was Snow, and she was all energy and love and fluff, and she was so incredibly sweet she could make your heart melt. Breaking the news to Emily was hard, and the choice we had to make next was harder. We had to have her put down. Emily and I did it as soon as we could so she would have to suffer is little as possible, and we were incredibly lucky that my aunt who was experienced in animal husbandry was visiting from downstate the weekend we could actually diagnose Snow officially. It was sad, and incredibly heartbreaking, and Emily didn't take it well, but life went on and we had nine babies plus the adult rats to take care of.
    When they were old enough to go, people backed out of taking them. We ended up with seven boys and three girls in the litter, and more people wanted girls than boys. When we did manage to rehome the two girls, Emily had to take them back a week later starved and half dead. She confiscated them from her cousin. When she finally got caging situations managed, she struggled to clean her cages and had to do an entire clean out on all of them every three days. She went through food incredibly quickly. At that time, she had three girls (mom and her two daughters) and seven boys (dad and six of the boys; I took in one). Zizzle was biting and attacking anything that went near her cage. Emily was having a hard time coping with all of the stress, including school and home life.
    It was just recently that she managed to rehome the girls, and she's able to keep up with them now. The girls went to a really good home: They get fed well, the family loves them like a family pet and plays with them often, and they have a huge home-built cage that was originally constructed for a ferret. Zizzle got over her biting problem and they're all happy and healthy. The seven boys Emily's keeping are all doing well, and she's able to maintain them comfortably now without having to get overwhelmed. In the end, things turned out exceptionally well for us even though it was rough getting there. We didn't have to pay any vet visits, and nobody who lived past three to four weeks old got sick or has had temperament problems yet. All of the boys from the litter are living happily with their dad right now, and Emily and I are so incredibly glad things didn't go worse than what hey could have.

    However, just because -we- had a relatively happy ending doesn't mean that it's good to breed in any case. As much as we've learned, and as glad as we are to be able to share our lives with all of our rats, I probably speak for both of us when I say if I had a choice as to whether or not it happened I would decide for it not to. It was a huge amount of responsibility, a lot of worrying, and too much heartbreak with Snow. I worry every day when I look at Anthon that he'll get late onset megacolon later on in his life, or that one of his siblings will (him, in particular, because he has a blaze). I worry hat they'll get health or temperament problems that haven't shown up yet, and I try to keep myself emotionally prepared for what problems may come.

  8. #7

    Default Why?-response to: think before you breed whose lives....

    This is a short story I was inspired to write after reading the stickied post: think before you breed whose lives you effect. It's not much, but I haven't really looked over it. Let me know if you like it; your input is welcome. Here it is, obviously it's called "Why?"

    The day started out normal except for my humans' odd behavior. For the past few days, my mistress and mister had been packing every one of our possessions into these big boxes. As I scanned my surroundings, I saw my mister holding one of MY tug toys in his hands. Oh no, he didn't! Barely able to suppress my excitement, I pelted across the room and grabbed one end of it. Playfully growling, I pulled with all my might. For some reason, my mister didn't react correctly. Why wasn't he playing?
    "Dumb dog!" he yelled. "œI can't wait to get rid of you."
    My mistress then began scolding him for his bad behavior, "Now Howard, you don't really mean that. Take it back."
    "I absolutely will not," he threw back.
    Knowing this could go on for a while and desperate to finally start the game, I began to tug harder to try to gain some ground. It was the wrong thing to do. All I got was my mister dropping the toy and storming off. For a second, I was confused, but then again humans were often erratic.
    Quickly forgetting my plight, I plodded over to my mistress, wagging my tail the whole way. Maybe she would give me a head scratch. When I pushed my nose under her arm to announce my presence, I thought I saw a far-away gleam in her eye. It faded just as soon as it appeared, so I couldn't be sure.
    My mistress got up and did something I didn't expect. She went over and got my leash to go for a W-A-L-K. That's how everyone always tried to say it when I was around. They thought I couldn't spell well, actually that's the only word I can spell, but it still counts, right?
    Today my mistress seemed a little bit reluctant to put the leash around my neck, but that didn't bother me because all I could think about was going for a W-A-L-K. When the door was finally opened, the fresh air greeted me with a faint scent of pine needles. The smell was gorgeous, and the day got even better when I realized my mistress was, in fact, not taking me on a walk but for a ride in the car. This was a surprise; I had only been allowed to go in the car two times. Without any hesitation, I jumped onto the shotgun seat.
    After the ignition had started, the window magically rolled down. Too happy for words, I stuck my head out to greet the rushing air. Usually, my mistress laughed at my hysterical appearance when I'm sticking halfway out of the car, but today she was silent. The car ride seemed to go by fast, and it's hard to remember. We were at our destination before I knew it.
    There was still no hesitation as I jumped out the car door my mistress was holding open for me. It was a new place to explore, and I wasn't going to let my mistress' somewhat moody attitude get me down.
    The hair rose up along the back of my spine. My excitement immediately disappeared. What I heard gave me the willies. What I heard wasn't real. What I heard I tried not to. What I heard was this, an enormous amount of dogs barking and howling, but it wasn't a happy sound. This was a sound I had never heard before. It was filled with all the sorrow in the world, the sorrow that I didn't want to be a part of. All I wanted to do was leave. I tried to pull back toward the car, but just as hard my mistress pulled back. After struggling like this for a few minutes, I gave in. My mistress would never let anything bad happen to me. She wouldn't let me become one of those soulless dogs.
    It was a side door we went through. There was a sign with squiggles hanging above the door, but I couldn't make out what it said. When we entered, the coolness of the tile floor slowly crept up my legs. I obediently sat beside my mistress while she talked to this heavy-set man. I only heard scraps of things, “Moving, can't take him, no choice.” None of this made any sense to me, so I just waited for my mistress to finish and take me home.
    I got the wish of her finishing, but I didn't get the wish of her taking me home. My mistress began to walk toward the door without my leash in her hand. I was amazed she could forget me, and I barked to let her know. I tried and tried to follow her, but the heavy-set man held me back. After one last look at me, my mistress walked away and only became a sad memory.
    The heavy-set man led me back to yet another strange place; no big surprise. I didn't care what happened to me anymore. All I knew was my mistress and mister had betrayed me, and every loving gesture, look, and full-down petting had been a lie. They had never loved me, and I knew I would never feel the texture of their skin against my tongue again.
    Suddenly, the door creaked open and bright light spilled into the room I was being held prisoner. Two young women who looked close to tears stepped into the room.
    "I can't believe there's another pit bull," one said. "We've already had to euthanize five this week."
    "I know. I'm sick of it, having to watch the light drain out of their eyes when they could've kept living," the other said clearly disgusted.
    "Well, we know he won't get adopted. Everyone seems to think pit bulls are blood killers, and as it is, we don't have enough room to house anymore dogs," the first one replied.
    "Let's just get this over with, killing another perfectly healthy dog. I wish people could see what's right in front of them: pit bulls aren't always mean," the second woman said to end the depressing conversation.
    My ears perked up as they came toward me, but I didn't move because I didn't know if I was ready to trust people again just yet. I thought, "Look at yourself. You've joined the ranks of the soulless dogs." The very thing I had feared just a little while before. The beginning of this day seemed like years ago.
    Being experienced, the two women easily slipped a leash around my head and plopped me onto a table with one of them holding me down. Now, the leash felt like a noose around my neck. I guess I wasn't too far off.
    One of the women got out the injection. They had caught my attention. I began to whimper. The woman holing me down flinched.
    "This just makes it that much harder," she mumbled.
    The injection stung as it entered my bloodstream. I began to yelp, just wanting this newfound pain to stop. It didn't take long for my body to go limp, making me even more fearful. I knew that I couldn't hold on much longer, and I didn't want to leave without all my questions being answered, so I looked into the woman's eyes and asked one simple question, "Why?" Then, everything went black.

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