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The end of an era: An animal shelter's closing stirs up human nature

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There's been a local stir recently, as the Humane Society of Brazoria County is in the process of closing its doors, due to poor funding and the declining health of its founder. Volunteers are scrambling to get all of the dogs placed in adoptive or foster homes or transferred to other no-kill shelters in the state before the money runs out. This ends a decade of founder Shirley Tinnin's work in the name of helpless animals that would have otherwise been euthanized long ago.

It's a sad situation overall, but the things that have caused the stir are the unfounded, seemingly vicious rumors that started circulating. It's pointless to go over the contents of the rumors here, as they are not true. What may be puzzling is a greater question: why would anyone start or perpetuate an ugly rumor about a charity at all?

There are some exceptions, but people generally operate on good intentions. Using harsh, dramatic phrasing may have actually been an attempt to get more attention for the shelter. Throwing out random deadlines could have been the author's projection of the urgency of the matter, even though there was no standing deadline for anything. And, of course, the possibility exists that folks were actually trying to make a bad situation worse or to discredit the founder and the Board.

Humans operate with the "us versus them"mentality naturally. In terms of animal shelters, there's the animal lover vs. the indifferent; the volunteer vs. the sympathetic; the "professional" volunteer vs. the occasional; the Board member vs. the casual volunteer; the founder vs. the "professional" volunteer. While on a spectrum, the general animal lover, the founder of a shelter and everyone in between have something in common: they care deeply in their hearts for helpless dogs and cats. Unfortunately, when there are two shelters with two business models and two sets of core volunteers, the "us versus them" becomes one shelter vs. the other, which is counter-productive.

When something like this starts to look like a really bad game of "telephone," it's best to step back and look at the bottom line. In this case, the dogs that remain at the shelter need to be placed in safe, happy, healthy homes and other no-kill shelters. It's about the dogs, not the people.

This is just one example of how situations can get to where people can't see the forest for the trees. When something like this occurs, it is important to step back and remember what the core issue is. Keep focus on that, not the hoopla that may build up around it. Do independent investigations before accepting something as truth. Using this process, a bigger impact can be made instead of getting lost in rumors, human bias and incorrect information.

[For more (true) information on the closing of the Humane Society of Brazoria County, visit Triumphant Tails' Facebook page.]

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