Surrendering Your Cat

Surrendering Your Cat

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(USA)

Please don't throw me away!

Please don't throw me away!

You may be under the impression that surrendering your cat to the local shelter will be the beginning of a whole new life with a wonderful loving family. I'm here today to tell you the truth about what goes on every day at shelters around the country. Those in other countries probably operate under the same conditions.

So you've decided you no longer want your cat. You've kept your cat for a couple of years and the newness has worn off or it has had kittens because you were too ignorant to spay or neuter. Or you decided your furniture was more important than your cat's claws. It's time to throw away your cat.

Here's what's going to happen...

First you need to decide whether you plan to turn your cat into the shelter as an "owner surrender" which means a fee may be charged by the shelter or as a "stray" where no fee is charged.
I've rescued many cats that were turned in as "strays" and they smelled of laundry detergent or perfume. This is simply someone lying about the animal to get out of paying the surrender fee. This is horribly callous behavior by the cat's "owner".

Most shelters operate on the principal that a cat surrendered to the shelter by its owner should be either adopted out immediately or euthanized immediately. This is determined by how many cats the shelter is caring for and also the health of the cat.

Stray cats are usually given 3-5 days for an owner to claim a lost pet. After this holding time the pet can be euthanized, pulled by a Humane Society adoption program, or be advertised for rescue or fostering.

During this time the cat will be exposed to all kinds of disease, the stress of dogs barking day and night, and the general torment of being in a cage. Once your cat becomes ill, and it will happen within a week of being placed in a cage, it will go to a sick bay for ill cats. These cats are first on the list to die since they have become unhealthy (at the shelter).

Your cat will wait for you to return to take it home, never knowing you're gone forever. Your cat will go to its death believing that any minute you'll be back because you were always there for it in the past.

Do not blame the shelter employees for the death of your former pet. YOU are the one to blame as YOU are likely the cause for it being there in the first place. This time of year is kitten season and entire litters are being killed every day to make room for the next litter. And it never ends. People give up cats for reasons from allergies to change in lifestyle. Would someone PLEASE explain to me what change in lifestyle is?

Each shelter only has a certain number of available cages. Once these are filled up the decision must be made on which cats to kill. I would hate that job. I can't imagine the torment the shelter employee who has to make that decision feels after caring for and trying to find a rescue for a cat and then having to make the decision to euthanize.

Your dead cat will then be placed in a freezer with all of the other dead cats awaiting whatever disposal system is used by the shelter. If the mental image of this isn't enough to make you change your mind about surrendering your cat, then I'm sorry, you're just not human.

You are the one who refused to spay/neuter. You are the one who wanted a declawed cat and are now upset when your cat refuses to use the litter box because the litter hurts its poor paws. And YOU are the one who should acknowledge the fact your cat has an 80% chance of being euthanized. I realize your cat is beautiful. I've also watched the Rainbow Bridge roster fill up with gorgeous cats. Beauty means nothing in a shelter.

If I had my way I'd require people surrendering their pet to have to view all of the dead cats in barrels or whatever they're kept in until taken away from the shelter.

I know this information is upsetting to a lot of readers. You deserve to know the truth. Take the blinders off and accept what will likely happen. If I can stop one cat from dying in a shelter then I've done my job writing this article.

I had time recently to observe people turning in pets at the shelter where I rescue. I was there from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., which is the busiest time of day since people are off of work and anxious to throw away their cats before spending a relaxing evening at home with the family.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort on my part not to harass these traitors. If not for my role as a rescuer I would have. People were lined up almost out the door with cats, dogs and kittens. All of the animals being turned in while I was there were "found" by the person turning them in. NONE, I repeat NONE, had any remorse. If anything they appeared happy to be ridding themselves of what was probably the family pet.

There is a new program being implemented at shelters around the country. It requires anyone surrendering a pet to make an appointment for counseling.

In Golden Valley, Minnesota, the Animal Humane Society put into place a counseling program on January 1st requiring pet owners to go through counseling. An appointment is required where options to animal surrender are discussed. The Humane Society realizes many people are relinquishing their cats due to financial problems in the family. Many also decide to throw away their pet for behavior problems that could be corrected with a little guidance.

Since implementing this program the shelter has seen a drop in both the euthanasia rate and the number of animal surrenders. Humane Societies are doing everything they can to keep a pet in the home and out of the shelter.

Legend has it that a cat who has passed over the rainbow bridge waits at heaven?s gate for the person it loved the most. Do you believe this legend, readers? I do. I'd really hate to have to face a cat I threw away and explain why I no longer loved it enough to provide a home.

My discussion question for the day is: what is the most insane reason you've heard for surrendering a cat? Mine is "change in lifestyle". I just can't imagine any lifestyle being worth throwing away your cat.

Elisa

http://minnesota.publicradio.org

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Surrendering Your Cat

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Sep 01, 2011
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Not many genuine reasons
by: Ruth

Anonymous you don't have to defend yourself if you had a very genuine reasaon for parting with your pet, such as being very disabled, incurably ill or losing your home.
The point is a lot of people don't have genuine reasons.
Worse still are those who dump unwanted animals outside Rescue Shelters. Most are full to bursting but will still make room for a depsperately genuine case.
You don't get rid of a human family member if you hit hard times and pets are family too, you stick together and share what you have.
I do speak from experience as there was a time in our lives when we had virtually nothing, but even so our cats never went short and we never ever considered giving them up !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Sep 01, 2011
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@anonymous
by: Dana

Working in the rescue business we hear so many lame excuses as to why people need to surrender their animals and I'm sure we are very critical of people surrendering their animal. There may be rare circumstances but daily you hear things like "we're moving." My husband is military and our dogs have moved with us everywhere. We've even flown them to Germany and back. And one trip cost us a couple thousand dollars because one dog is a giant breed and had to fly a special airline for transporting animals. I just feel like people don't surrender their kids for the purposes we hear about people surrendering their pets. Like I said, there are a few rare instances. But I feel that in most cases where there is a will there is a way.


Sep 01, 2011
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No other option
by: Anonymous

You should know that not ALL people WANT to surrender their cats and have loved them for years and for whatever reason MUST let the cats go
please dont be so judgemental it is a hard enough decision without you making me feel like a horrible person who is sentencing my cat to death!


Jun 24, 2011
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@Dana
by: Elisa

You should see my Mandy from our first rescue. She will lay on me and lick my chin while putting her paws on either side of my neck. I'll pick her up in my sleep and either throw her behind me onto the pillow or throw her toward the foot of the bed. Or I'll slap at her. She thinks this is all a game and slaps back. I think she enjoys the flying lessons to the foot of the bed. Some days I'm lucky and she'll just lay down beside me and go to sleep. She's the welcoming committee for the new cats. She loves everyone


Jun 23, 2011
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Re: I love older cats
by: Dana

Kittens are fun and that's why I enjoy fostering them. I get to laugh at their funny antics for a while until their ready for adoption and then I get to start all over again with the next set. They are also very affectionate and they purr at a drop of a hat when I pick them up or they climb up in my lap. Everything about them brighten my day. But when it's time to adopt another cat, it won't be a kitten because like you said Elise, adult cats (and dogs) seem to be more appreciative and I like to watch them blossom from a shy, timid cat to affectionate and outgoing. And they can be just as playful and affectionate as kittens if you take the time to play with them. My adult cats still enjoy chasing the lazer light and playing with the fishing pole toys, etc. Jessie, my little brat, still wakes me up every morning by laying straight across my neck and purring so loud you can hear him in the next room. Nearly chokes me to death but that is his way of giving ME attention.


Jun 23, 2011
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I LOVE older cats
by: Elisa

I too love older cats. My daughter loves kittens because she believes they're more loving. I love the older adults. Their personalities shine and they appreciate everything I do for them. They patiently wait for a morsel of food or a treat while kittens attack for it. I do have one special little kitten at this time. His name is Garfield and I rescued him last minute at the shelter. His time had run out and he had a bad sore on his back where he was recovering from some kind of attack. This cat is grateful and he shows it. I've never seen a more loving kitten. He's about 3 months old now and is an orange tabby.

I can't believe the people who come in and think they're doing the shelter a favor by turning in a cat they believe the shelter can make money off of by adopting. These idiots don't realize the shelter can't recoup the money put out to get an animal ready to adopt.


Jun 23, 2011
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Foster care rescue groups
by: Dana

I think foster care rescue organizations are the most ideal for homeless pets. People who want to experience the joy of a pet but can't commit long term due to moving or traveling for their job a lot, could still make a difference. I think there needs to be more education and awareness on these opportunities. Most people are unaware that fostering is even an option. I'm strongly considering starting a strictly foster care rescue but you still run into the same problem as shelters, do you foster a cat for years that hasn't been adopted or do you humanely put her to sleep to open up the opportunity for a litter of kittens who have a much higher chance of being adopted. I'd also like to add that shelters should educate potential adopters that you don't know what you're getting when you adopt a kitten or puppy. I bottle fed both my very first foster kittens that I ended up adopting and they were very well socialized and used to being handled by people. Well one day, my Jessie, decided he was going to nip at everyone who came in the door. It happened out of the blue. Also, my neighbor adopted one of my fosters who was litterly the most attention seeking and affectionate kitten I've ever fostered. He's turned into a different cat now and isn't the most friendly. However, all the adult cats I've fostered have been consistent in their personalities and have even become friendlier and more affectionate once they've had human contact and attention. I get a lot of joy seeing them blossom. But unfortunately after spending months fostering them and working with them, their fate in being adopted is slim and I just can't keep every cat I foster.


Jun 23, 2011
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No-Kill shelters
by: Adam

I'm personally not a fan of no-kill shelters. While from an uneducated point of view about no kill shelters, it sounds benevolent and ideal but in reality, it's far from it. People seek out no-kills to releave their consciousne. I think low-kill is a better option. There are cats at no-kill shelters who've lived most of their life in a cage. I'm sorry but I'd rather be humanely put to sleep and cross over the rainbow bridge and experience total freedom and love than live my life in a cage. I do believe that when I die I will be reunited with my pets who've died of old age over the years.


Jun 23, 2011
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sick cats
by: Dana

Upper Respiratory Infection runs rapid in shelters. And kittens are most susceptable to this disease. I foster cats from a no-kill shelter I volunteer at and I always have 6 or more sick cats I have to isolate in different bedrooms and nurse them back to health. I recently spent four weeks bottle feeding and nursing two 3-week old kittens who came in with a bad case of URI. It was a litter of four and 2 kittens were so far gone that they died within 24 hours. Just think how much money these shelters have to put into veterinary care for sick animals simple because someone was irresponsible. Despite what most uneducated people believe, many shelters do not make money off the adoption fees. The adoption fee for cats at our shelter is $95. That covers first year vaccination, micro-chipping, and spay-nuetering. They actually loose money on cats. Yet we still get people who complain that the adoption fee is too high. Many shelters struggle to stay alive and rely on donations just to keep their head above water. It is hard as hell to adopt out adult cats. And what do you do when you're a no-kill? We have adult cats that have been at the shelter for years who are wonderful cats and would make a great addition to a loving home. However, the older they get the lower the chances for them to be adopted. They take up resources and space that could be used to save a litter of kittens who have a better chance at adoption. It's a hard decision to make. Euthanize the adult cat or turn away the kittens who have a chance. But I don't blame the shelters for having to make that hard decision of having to euthanize as they wouldn't be in that position if owners were responsible. There are simply more cats than homes and they can't save every cat unfortunately. Our country need stricter laws such as the ones in Europe. In Germany, you have to pay an annual tax on your pet. I like the idea because it makes one think hard before they purchase or adopt an animal. I can tell you from experience of living in Germany, I personally never saw a stray animal. And when I read about ones in the paper, they were primarily due to military families who moved and decided their pet wasn't important enough to spend the money or hassle to bring the pet with them. However, my husband is military and we've spent thousands flying our pets to our different duty locations. I know of many military who have done the same so not all Americans are irresponsible but it seems more are than not.


Jun 23, 2011
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This is a truth I know all too well
by: Kaitlyn

I explain the sad reality of surrendering cats all the time to people. They just don't seem to get it. People want to convince themselves that their pet would never be the one to be overlooked, or get sick before it had a chance to be adopted. They don't want to believe that chances are they are condemning their pet to a miserable death sentence.

I also explain to these same people why it isn't "cute" for their cat to have litter after litter of kittens that are inevitably dumped at a shelter. I give them all the information necessary to get their pet altered at a low-cost community program or petco events. Usually it's too "expensive", or their "too busy", or ya know they'll "have to do that sometime".

The excuses I've heard for why people cannot possibly follow-through with their commitment of having a pet are almost always irrelevant. It's usually "Well we're having a baby & I hear cats suck out their breath" or "I've moving..and it's hard to take pets". Or my absolute favorite..."They pee". I mean who would have thought that animals pee once in a while??? The ignorance is enraging to say the least.


Jun 22, 2011
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Moving Article, Elisa!
by: Ann (Mama to 3 adoptees)

That was a most moving article Elisa! I cried reading it. I don't see how anyone can give up their family member, but I guess some people don't see their cats as family. My animals are all from shelters and they are all my precious babies. I would never think of turning them in to a shelter unless I was homeless and couldn't take care of them, and even then I would try to find someone like you to take them instead. I was extremely glad when I took Anatomy & Physiology that we did not have to dissect cats! I had been warned that we may have to, but we didn't. That would have upset me greatly, as it would have upset my instructor also. Keep up the great work that you do! You are truly an Angel on Earth!


Jun 22, 2011
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my cats the other FAMILYMEMBER
by: bobbie

as i was reading the article,it brought tears to my eyes!My husband had found a cat in the middle of the night in a garbegecontaner near his work.a little dark tortie,nothing but skin and bones was in a plasticbag making crynoises.That was 5 years ago,and Puja{means prayers in hindi}is a solid member of my family.i was employed at a no killshelter for 2 years,and seen what goes on.The more People i know,the more i like Cats.My husband and i have a few.But there is not one that i would get rid off.I dont know what goes thruw peoples head,when they Dump they familymember somewhere.People really need to seat down and think about the yearslong Comitment it takes to have a pet, bevor getting one.Lifestyles chance,your pet will be there for you,ALWAYS!!!!


Jun 22, 2011
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Just to add..
by: Anonymous

There are too many uneducated cat owners..No oe disagrees. But also too many shelters, and cat rescues operate much like pet shops allowing owners to pick the cat of their choosing with no regard as to how to match cats and owners..these outfits called shelters / rescues are probably just recycling cats in part. Sadly we need to see cats in better quality homes and this probably means short term more euthanasia for the sake of the cats and more small scale rescues /shelters. Shelters probably need to have more emphasis on proper assessment than purely 'control'.


Jun 22, 2011
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Brilliant
by: Rachel Peresie

Thank you so much for writing this article. It pains me so much to hear people criticize shelters for euthanizing animals. Many people have blinders on and they don't see the other side- that it is CRUEL to leave animals imprisoned for long periods of time in what must be one of the most stressful environments imaginable. Not to mention that most so-called "no-kill" shelters are rife with neglect and abuse, and animals at those kinds of places often languish and succumb to disease and die, lonely and scared, in their cages. Anyone who thinks overpopulation is a myth is living in a fantasy world and needs to work in a shelter and see how many animals are surrendered every day, and see how most of them are so messed up from not being raised correctly or from being inbred by some yokel idiots who breed to make money and don't give a crap about the dogs. I can't tell you how many people I've spoken to who insist that there is nothing wrong with buying from a breeder or a pet store. I have tried and failed many times at ingraining into people's heads that for ever animal they purchase from a breeder or store, another one dies in a shelter. There is just no getting around this fact!!! I heard a statistic once (my apologies for not remembering the source) that stated something like if no cat or dog were ever euthanized again for space, and the population continued to grow as it is currently, every since person over the age of 18 in the United States would have to have about 15 dogs and 15 cats. So please do not insult the people in the rescue industry with the "overpopulation is a myth" nonsense. It's more than laughable, it's a huge knock against those who do what is most compassionate for the animals themselves, and those who try so hard to get the word out about how important spaying and neutering are. Thank you again Elisa for a wonderful article!


Jun 22, 2011
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Best article ever
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

You are right on Elisa! I see ads on craigslist all the time of people trying to unload unwanted pets. Maybe they think doing it through the classifieds the animal will get a good home-- but they have no guarantees that the new people won't dump him in a shelter in two years time when they are tired of him. Those same ads almost always include a line apologizing that the cat isn't declawed yet. Some people will say in their ad: "but it's a simple operation and you can have it done right away."
The reasons for dumping the cat often revolve around work or family issues. "I'm working too many hours and he deserves someone who has more time for him." These same people dump their kids in daycare for 12 hours at a time. Work schedules change. The same person could start telecommuting next month, but the cat's gone forever.
Or they say that the cat is "jealous of the baby." So for that he deserves to be kicked out? Babies grow up and the cat can suck it up for awhile. We expect older siblings to understand that the new baby needs more of our time for awhile. You don't kick big sister out when the new baby arrives, so why kick out the cat?
Lonely, bored, or feeling neglected the cat is still better off in his house with his family! Cats and humans together can adapt to less than ideal circumstances.
Allergies are only a good excuse if the person has been getting puffy from exposure to the cat or has had an incidence of anaphylactic shock. Even then they should confirm that the cat is truly the allergen. How many dump the cat when maybe their house has mold issues? If a person just gets a runny nose from the cat he needs to suck it up-- take some antihistamine, buy a good vacume cleaner and keep the cat away from where you sleep. I'm allergic to Monty. I should keep him out of my bedroom and I don't. I blow my nose a lot. Oh well-- the cat stays because I love him.


Jun 22, 2011
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To Eva
by: Ruth

Eva I don't know of any kill shelters in the UK and I've worked with and volunteered with cats all my adult life.
Our own local Shelter has around 39 cats at present and they never ever have a cat killed unless he is incurably ill.
The unadoptable ones are gradually allowed out of their cages to get acclimatised to the grounds and live there forever to make room for more being dumped.
There is never enough money for this wonderful place, they are in the process of building a new cattery but have run out of money. Because of the hard times and less donations it all goes on feeding the 300 + unwanted animals and on vets bills.
The problems in our country are not half as bad as the USA and our Animal Welfare bill has helped, but as long as people are allowed to get a pet without having the slightest idea how to look after him, there will always be problems.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Jun 22, 2011
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Yes, you tell them Elisa !
by: Ruth

YOU TELL THEM Elisa !!!!
Quite right, let it be known that unwanted cats are shoved in cages,afraid and bewildered and many of them killed. Let's not mince our words, KILLED not euthanised, because that means a gentle death as a release from incurable illness and pain.
Some people think cats don't have feelings ! Of course they do and it's much worse for an amimal than a person because they have no way of knowing why they were dumped and if it's forever or what !!!
I despise those cold hearted people who dump their cat when it's not convenient for them to have him around any more. I despise their lies and excuses as to why they are 'getting rid' of him.
There is more than one insane reason I've heard for surrendering a cat.
Doing monthly Shelter studies for Dr Hofve of the reasons for the relinquishment of declawed cats, the excuses are endless but here are two of the ones that make me very angry:
It meows too much
I don't like its fur
Did they not know before they took a cat home that all cats meow and wear fur coats?
Did they not discover that, before carting them off to the vets to have their toe ends amputated ?
The all time favourite is of course an allergy in the family.
Would those people 'get rid' of a human family member for any old reason? No they would work out how to get around the problem.
Well so they should with a cat too because the cat is as much part of the family as any other member.
Every now and again an article pops up about cats neglected at a Shelter, then the same old cry goes up 'But I thought my cat was going to be well cared for there' Have they no conscience, do they not realise their cats should not have been there !
When will they realise that cats are NOT possessions to be disposed of and that if you take on a pet, you should take him for his entire lifetime and give him the best life you can !
Yes sometimes there are genuine reasons, such as the death or ill health or homelessness of the caretaker, but no other reason is good enough !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Jun 22, 2011
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Surrendering your cat
by: Rudolph.A.furtado

A very educative and tragic article on the fate of disowned cats or stray cats in "Animal Shelters" in the U.S.A".Its a problem that is universal, only difference is that it receives different tretment in different country's. In India, cats are not "Euthanised" and neither are they trapped by animal welfare authorities.Feral , abandoned and stray cats could survive on waste trash food, although disease and unaccustomed street living could definitely kill abandoned pet cats in India.Although the municipal authorities do not euthanise cats in India as in the U.S.A and in most country's, sheer abandonment could kill pet cats disowned by their former owners.Pet owners should realise that owning a cat is a life-long commitment akin to a human being and hence abandoning the same for various reasons is a unconvicted crime.


Jun 22, 2011
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Shameful Owner Behavior
by: Anonymous Amputees

I cried as I read this article. I feel so helpless not being able to rescue all the cats in these shelters.

I like the idea of counseling. It should be done for declawing as well, at least until we can make it illegal to declaw.

One thing that Elisa didn't mention, but Michael did: There is a very large market for dead cats in the medical community, among others. Cats anatomy is so similar to human anatomy that medical colleges use them for labs. The med students are able to learn body parts on the microscopic level without harming humans.

Maybe Elisa should add this to her article about disposable pets!

Then we should all contact our local media and present the subject to them.

So many people TRULY believe that their surrendered pet will find a new loving home. Let pet owners know what is happening.


Jun 22, 2011
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makes me wonder
by: Eva

That's truly dreadful. Poor cats.

I have been wondering for a while if the situation is as bad in the UK. It seems that shelters here are quite reluctant to give up cats if your home is not ideal (our local shelter won't even give cats to people living in rented accommodation)

Has any one got any statistics on the euthanasia rates in UK shelters? I've been searching the web but can't find anything.


Jun 22, 2011
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Horrible
by: Michael (Admin)

Thanks for the article Elisa. I find the whole thing horrible and I am sure the mentality of some owners as described in your article is the same anywhere.

I have always believed that a good number of cat owners should not be cat owners. They simply are not suitable. How do we address that problem?

I find it shocking that a stable process of adopt - keep - relinquish - kill exists as a matter of course. It is all normal. Few people question it.

I have mentioned this before but I feel that the end product, dead cats, has to be dealt with differently. It is too easy to dispose of dead cats.

What happens to these dead cats. I can't help but feel that some if not all end up in pet food or are rendered down for other products. They are a resource and have value.

If I am correct this facilitates the killing of cats. See: Potential Conflict of Interest in Cat Shelters.

I know the root cause of the problem is irresponsible cat owners but shelters should have a strong resistance to killing cats. In fact they could and should be genuine No Kill Shelters in practice not just in name. Some are genuinely No Kill Shelters. Why isn't this one?

Michael Avatar



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