Letter to the Editor: Misconceptions about Mansfield Animal Shelter

The following was submitted by Mary Andrews, a volunteer at the Mansfield Animal Shelter.

An article entitled “Dog Fight Erupts in Mansfield” appeared in the Sunday edition of The Sun Chronicle. This letter is not to argue a point of view on the decision to euthanize the dog in question, but to clear up misconceptions about Mansfield Animal Shelter.


Mansfield Animal Shelter is NOT a no-kill shelter. However, because of the efforts of the Humane Officer and the volunteers, its record may be very close to being no-kill, and I have never known an animal to be euthanized because it has been at the shelter too long. (It’s worth mentioning that there is no breed specific discrimination at the shelter. Many pit bulls have come through the shelter and have been adopted into loving homes where they have proved to be wonderful pets.) Nevertheless, Mansfield Animal Shelter is a town-run shelter under the jurisdiction of the Animal Humane Officer, who answers to the Police Chief in his role as Animal Control Officer. It is they who make decisions on euthanizing dogs, not the volunteers. The town’s by-laws give them that authority, and they are not required to consult with Mansfield Shelter Friends. The Animal Humane Officer is the only town employee at the shelter. All other care is provided by volunteers.


Mansfield Shelter Friends (M.S.F.) is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers, and separate from, but supporting, Mansfield Animal Shelter. M.S.F. is funded by generous donations, and by adoption fees. M.S.F. bears the sole responsibility of paying for veterinary care for shelter animals; the town does not cover those expenses. Through generous donations MSF has been able to provide outstanding and extensive veterinary care, often saving animals’ live by paying for surgeries and care far above basic vaccinations. M.S.F. has given financial assistance to pet owners who couldn’t afford vet care, and who would otherwise have to euthanize or surrender their pets. M.S.F. has also paid for trainers to work with dogs who otherwise might have been unadoptable. (MSF paid for a trainer for Rocco.)


Although it is extremely distressing and unfortunate when animals must be euthanized, it remains rare at Mansfield Animal Shelter when one considers the number of animals that pass through the shelter. During my almost ten years as a volunteer, animals have never been put down as a result of overcrowding or because they have been at the shelter too long, although I believe this is common practice at many public shelters.


As a volunteer, I am proud of Mansfield Animal Shelter and the way it has served the animals that pass through the shelter. I hope people will continue to see the overwhelming good that the shelter does for animals, and continue to support it in those efforts.


Mary Andrews

Volunteer, Mansfield Animal Shelter


Allmyfurkidsarerescues December 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Having learned about this situation this weekend, and having been involved in rescue for a very long time, I can honestly say this situation is unfortunate, however it's important for people to realize that a life in a cage is no life at all for a dog, especially one as high energy as this particular dog. The dog in question has been at the shelter for over a year. What kind of quality life is that? In my experience with both the breed and shelter life, extended periods of time cooped up in a small kennel leads to deteriorating mental capacities. Often times this change in behavior is irreversible and hard decisions must be made. The volunteers who are threatening to quit are not hurting the people involved, but the many many more animals in need who depend on their kindness and gentle hand. You may not be in agreement with the decision about this one dog, but you can be there to support the rest of the animals who desperately need you.
BH December 11, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Do people really think anybody killed this dog willingly or that they enjoyed it in any way? I'm sure this was done with much consideration from multiple parties. The decision was made for the public and for the dog, there will always be differing opinions on everything in life. If this dog was adopted again and bit a child everybody would be up in arms just the same, asking why was this allowed to happen.
Joanne Wilkinson December 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
As a director of a dog rescue myself, I am in agreement with the comments above and the balanced article by Mary Andrews. The decision to euthanize an animal is such a difficult one, and has to be made in the best interests of the community, and not always in the best interests of the dog. But in this case, even the best interests of the dog were not being well served by a life in a cage. I do not personally know Jeff Collins, but I too have been in the situation of having to euthanize a dog (for biting a child) despite some protest from our volunteers. As a rescue director, one always has to balance the terribly sad feeling of euthanizing an animal we may all know and love, with the scenario of being faced with a possible future disfiguring bite to a child, or a permanently impairing or scarring bite to an adult. No trainer and no volunteer who is not running a shelter or rescue ever has to be in the unenviable position of deciding the fate of an animal in the way that shelter and rescue directors must do. There will always be 'grey areas' and people get very attached even to dogs with issues, but shelter and rescue directors have to step up and take responsiblity for the community at large. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the people who have to do this. They are not people who dislike animals. They are usually people who love animals enough to euthanize the risky ones in order to save many more sweet ones, and protect their communities.


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