Compassion Fatigue

I realize why I have been so anxious and shaky lately. I see shelters filled, rescues overflowing, and animals being euthanized for no reason other than there is no room.

My chest is always tight, and I tear up when I see the result of mistreatment. I get over it and think ‘I’m doing as much as I can.’ I focus on breathing and I recover.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueAnd then I hear about someone wanting to breed. Not reputable breeders, but just some random person who doesn’t know anything. Some random person who wants ‘for their kids to experience the miracle of life’ or ‘I want one of my dog’s puppies’.  I hear it every day. ‘My dog is cute, I should breed her’ or ‘I have papers, so I need to breed her. It’s my responsibility’ or ‘I want to make some money’… the list goes on.

It starts over and I have a panic attack. WHY do I have to be so sensitive?! I want to toughen up and not let things like this affect me so much. I want to scream and cry and hit someone. I want to shake them and force them to watch the pink juice go into animal after animal so they understand what they are doing is filling up shelters. I can’t breathe because of other people’s ignorance. I can’t sleep and feel sick. It’s happening again, and I can’t stop.

I have visited 2 shelters this week, and I’m going to another one in a couple days. I want to take all these ‘breeders’ with me and shove this in their face. I can’t stop shaking I’m so mad. My heart won’t stop pounding. I can’t breathe and the tears won’t stop.

I look at Jinx and know I saved her life. Not only that, but I see she has been bred. She has been mistreated and someone did wrong by her. She should never have been bred, but she was. Where are her puppies? Probably in a shelter or dead. Not only It is ignorant or stupid, but abuse. I don’t show her I feel this way.  I am a strong leader, and I have to her show confidence, rather than pity. I can feel weak and sad for her on my own time. She has to learn how to handle different situations and looks to me for guidance. I show her how I want her to act. That is confident, stable, balanced and strong. She’ll get there, but I can’t let her see me this way. She will feel it, and it will cause anxiety, fear, and for her to be unsure and concerned.

These PEOPLE want to breed because a ‘pomsky’ is the new, cutsie dog. People want to make a quick buck off of some backyard poorly-bred puppies. They are sold for hundreds or thousands each. No pedigree lines have been proven. No papers. They are not a ‘real’ breed. Does that make them any less of a dog or worth less? No, but that means these people are contributing to the vicious cycle of life and death. If people would spay and neuter their animals, we would have less of a problem. If people were responsible and did their research, they would see this isn’t a good idea. Do they care? No. They only care about money and making cute puppies.

Heather Hamilton Compassion FatigueInbreeding, puppy mills, overbreeding, and pet stores run rampant. The doggie parents were not given prenatal care or vet checkups for the pups. The males didn’t have proper fertilization tests done. The females had problems during pregnancy because the inexperienced ‘breeder’ failed to provide proper care during delivery. No health checks were provided, so dogs who have cancer, hip dysplasia, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems or heart problems are bred. Puppies die. Genetics get worse, and our ‘reputable’ breeds are hurt. They are have to raise their prices because of all the bad lines. They have to work harder to find good lines for their operation.

Cross breeds are made and then designer breeds are born.  Health problems occur and the animals are bred again. Puppies are given up on and end up in the shelter because of behavioral problems. Then killed because lack of space. Most puppies don’t make it to their 2nd birthday because of this cycle.

See the trend? It doesn’t end. Recently I have come across many ‘breeders’, and people pretending to be a rescue while they are also breeding. It has been quite a lot in the last week. That, with visiting the shelter has been emotionally exhausting. I have to ‘buck up’ and handle it because this is my life now. What can I do, other than volunteer with shelters, offer training to people who have adopted dogs from shelters, and spread the word about non-responsible breeding and puppy mills? I feel like what I do is never enough.

I want to call everyone out. I want to educate and yell and punch someone’s face in. But I won’t. Because I am a professional and have to hold my tongue. I have to educate in a ‘smile and bear it’ kind of way. Even when those people spit in my face.  Apparently, I have compassion fatigue. It’s a real thing. Look it up.

3 thoughts on “Compassion Fatigue

  1. Never lose your passion sweetie…never! You have, are and will continue to impact and save many dogs. You have everything that it takes to make a difference: passion, vision, skill and dedication. Stay focused on the positive and good that you do. Save them all? No, that’s not possible but considering that most of us will never do anything, you are way above the curve. Don’t beat yourself up, focus on all the good. It will save you a lot of grief, OK? Love ya.

  2. Amen, sister. PREACH!!!! After fostering a former shelter dog and her puppies over the summer I am even more sensitive to the plight that overbreeding and irresponsible breeding has brought to the dog population in this country. Chloe was likely a breeder mom, forced to have multiple litters in her short life. Where did the rest of her babies end up? The ones we worked with are the lucky ones–all adopted to responsible homes, where they will be spayed and neutered at 6 months. And Chloe herself is in a wonderful home and will be having no more babies, so she gets to just be a dog for the rest of her life. You are right–it can get to be overwhelming. You just stay focused on the good you are doing, take time to educate gently if you have the opportunity (I have the local spay & neuter clinic info basically memorized!!!!), and realize you can’t save them all, but you can make a HUGE difference for the few dogs that do come into your life. ❤

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