Don’t Get Mad…Educate!

i Sep 29th 4 Comments by

The bag in which Breezy was found.

As you likely know by now, on Saturday, September 20th we took in a male Shih-Tzu that was found abandoned in a zipped comforter bag along with a bag of food and a blanket in a breezeway.  Both the Reading Eagle and WFMZ came to do a story on the pup, who I am lucky enough to be fostering, and so our little man got a lot of attention.  Here’s a snapshot of the comments written on social media in response to his story:

  • Sure hope they catch the beast who did that to him!!
  • So f’in outraged! Who does this sort of thing?!?! How do people become so sick and twisted?!?!
  • Who could be so heartless?
  • Some people are just evil

Getting a much needed bath and grooming to help with a massive flea infestation.

When I was interviewed by reporter Ryan Hughes at WFMZ, he mentioned that this situation was sad.  Indeed, but my response was different than you might expect.  I told him that what made me really sad is that whoever did this, didn’t realize there was another option, and that makes me feel like I’ve failed.  I eat, breathe, and sleep marketing.  I talk about the ARL to anyone who will listen.  I make every effort to educate people about our services and to explain why spaying and neutering is so important.  I am a constant voice for our foster program.  I spend my days creating Facebook posts, blog posts, podcasts and collateral pieces with the sole intention of educating Berks County about the ARL’s services.  So why, WHY, didn’t his owner know that there was a better way?

The way I see it is that whoever this “beast” is cared enough about their dog to send him off with his favorite blanky and a bag of food.  They left him in an area where he was sure to be seen and rescued.  Maybe they were embarrassed that his flea infestation was so bad.  Maybe they didn’t have enough money to take him to the vet.  Maybe they were ashamed that his coat was so matted.  Maybe they did know that they could surrender their dog at the ARL, but maybe they thought we would judge them for their neglect.  Maybe they didn’t even know they could surrender their little guy to a place where he would get the care and the love he needed.  Maybe if they did know, they would’ve done it sooner – before he nearly died of anemia.

Am I an eternal optimist?  Am I tragically blind when it comes to seeing the bad in people in favor of seeing the good?  Am I being naïve?  Maybe.  Or maybe I remember a time in my early 20’s when I was a full-time student working a full time job and living on my own with my most beloved Pekingnese Missy.  She was the first dog that I adopted on my own, as an adult.  I had an incredibly special bond with her and she was my whole world.  If you know the breed, you know that they require regular grooming….a financial aspect that I didn’t consider when I adopted her.  A commitment of time that I didn’t have considering everything else going on in my life.  But I loved her, and I thought that would be enough.  It didn’t take long for her coat to become matted and for me to be ashamed when friends or family would see her and think that I wasn’t caring for her.  I was embarrassed to take her out for walks for fear of people judging me.  But, I finally had enough sense to bury my pride and ask my mom for help.  She took my sweet Missy to the groomer and she came back a different dog.  From that point on, I made sure that the money and time needed to keep her comfortable were a priority for me…as they should’ve been from the beginning.  Does this neglect make me an irresponsible owner?  Am I a monster for letting my dog become matted and uncomfortable?  Should my dog have been taken away from me? Should I never have been allowed to adopt two more dogs and to foster countless others?  Or is it possible that sometimes, good people make bad decisions?


Living the good life in a foster home with a new blanky.

Here’s what I do know for sure…Breezy (since renamed “Zipper”) is a really cool dog.  He is housetrained.  He LOVES other dogs.  He is super smart.  He is obedient.  He likes kids.  What do all of those things tell me?  That he was loved.  Someone loved this dog enough to housetrain him.  Someone loved this dog enough that he knows people are good and give the best belly rubs.  Someone loved him enough to socialize him with other dogs.  Sometimes though, love just isn’t enough.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that there are truly cruel people out there.  They are the ones that train their dogs to fight,  that allow their dogs to be bait, that physically torture their animal for entertainment, that tie an unwanted pet in an abandoned home where it will starve to death before ever being found. Was Breezy’s owner cruel? No, I don’t think so. Somewhere, in that person’s mind, doing what they did was the right thing to do.  I know it wasn’t and you know it wasn’t, and we all wonder WHY it happened this way,  but I also know that I’ve made bad decisions before, and probably will again.  And when I do, I hope there is someone there to help me find the right way.

Let the anger that you might’ve felt when you read his story fuel you.  Take that anger and turn it into something positive.  Use it to educate anyone and everyone that will listen about the services available in Berks County for pet owners in need.  Come pick up a handful of our brochures and give them to your neighbors.  Share our Facebook statuses.  Share this blog post.  Be a voice for those that can’t speak.

Resources for Berks County Pet Owners in Need

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County

  • Accepts all owner-surrendered and stray animals
  • Can assist with short-term pet food needs
  • Offers low cost vaccine clinics & low cost spay/neuter surgery

The Humane Society of Berks County

  • Offers low/sliding cost veterinary services to low-income families
  • Can assist with pet food needs

The Pet Food Pantry of Berks County

  • Provides pet food free of charge to those in need

No Nonsense Neutering

  • Provides low cost spay/neuter for pets


  1. phoebe
    September 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I’m with you. As horrible as it seems I was surprised to read he was left with a blanket and food. I hope your message gets out to folks who need to know there are options. Our judgement is so unfiltered and it’s easy to be angry when we don’t know the whole story. Keep up the great work!

  2. Sharon Palansky
    October 1, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Dear Beth, what a wonderful article you wrote. I am sitting here with tears. You are doing a great job. I once had a peke too and they were, as you said lots of care, but only love can care for them.
    Good job! How is he doing now?
    love, Grammy

  3. Anni
    February 27, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Even better would be to have resources available that this pup’s humans could have received help with grooming, flea treatment, and vet care. That may have kept him in a loving home and saved space at the shelter for a dog who was truly unwanted.

    Our county may have a food pantry, but even the so-called low cost services at HSBC are far beyond what many families can afford. We desperately need more programs to help keep animals OUT of the shelter and in homes. THAT is how lives are saved.

    Now that a new director has been hired, are any such programs in the works?

    • BethIreland
      March 2, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Anni-
      We’ve been working on providing relief to pet owner’s in need for several years. At this point, we have to take things on a case-by-case basis, but when we can help…we do! We currently provide food to owner’s in need, provide low-cost vaccine clinics and low-cost spay and neuter services. Our foster program is sometimes able to provide temporary care for pets while their owners get back on their feet.

      We are absolutely looking forward to the day when we can do more to help more people keep their animals. It will certainly take a village…we’ll need major donations, excellent partnerships with pet vendors in the community, and help getting the word out to owners in need. So, stay tuned. We’re doing a little at a time!


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