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I AM SADDENED TO READ that the Washington Humane Society shelter will be closing next week unless the city decides to grant more than a short-term contract (“Dog Days,” The District Line, 10/20). As a former volunteer at the shelter (I moved out of the city about a year ago), I was infuriated at the untrue and vicious statements made by the “dissident volunteers” who want to take over operation of the shelter. I have never met nor heard of any of them, which makes me wonder how recently they became experts on the operation of an animal shelter that handles 12,000 of the city’s castoff dogs and cats every year, many of whom are extremely sick or injured.

The staff of the Washington Humane Society hasn’t the luxury of living in some fantasy land where every animal gets adopted and lives happily ever after. This is a city where drugs, poverty, gangs, and hopelessness affect all inhabitants, including the overwhelming population of pit bulls, cats tossed out windows, and boxes of puppies left on the side of the freeway. How is this dissident group going to take in all the wretched animals in need and institute a “no-kill” policy, all at half the current cost? Vet care is expensive, cages fill up quickly, and “a good home” doesn’t translate into “someone who’s willing to take an animal off our hands.”

My volunteer hours at the shelter were spent working with some of the most compassionate, determined, hard-working people I’ve ever met. They were also realists who weren’t willing to preserve their own tender feelings regarding euthanasia at the expense of the animals in their care.

Olney, Md.