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Comforting Dogs in Their Final Hours
Volunteers spend the night with dogs slated for euthanasia
shelter dog euthanasia black german shepherd volunteer animal care control
A Compassion Program volunteer comforts Blackie during his last night.

Could you spend the night comforting shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized the next morning? The Compassion Program, based out of New York's Animal Care and Control in Manhattan, is comprised of nine volunteers who take turns sleeping over with death row dogs. Whether it's a long walk, a special treat, playing with a toy or being cuddled, they ensure that every dog spends his last hours being loved. The program staff consider it a form of hospice, even though these dogs are not necessarily dying due to medical conditions, but lack of loving homes. Donations of treats and toys are welcome. For more information, please go to the Compassion Program.


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Anonymous | January 16 2012 |

me too!!!! I love animals so much but the thought of spending the last moments of these lives is unbearable..They all deserve to life...and to see the happiness on their faces right before they die would haunt me forever..I wish I could do it but I couldnt hold back tears for even a moment...

Submitted by Doreen Domina | January 13 2012 |

If they had ine in CT as much as it would hurt me I would find solice in knowing that I brought some joy to a dog in it's last moments....so I would volnteer

Submitted by Connie | January 14 2012 |

Wow................. I have done rescue now for nearly 15 years. Every dog that is deathly ill, or in pain, and in NEED of being euthanized, I am there, with them, and I do the same, their final DAYS with me. It's draining, to say the least, but I feel it's my final GIFT to them.

It's just so sad that there is so many dogs BEING euthanized......... that black shepherd looks totally adoptable, so it seems really sad that she was euthanized....

Until people start being more responsible, we are going to have this horrific overpopulation problems.

God Bless you folks who are giving all of your love to these wayward souls............. I just wish there wasn't such a NEED for you........

Submitted by Robin L. | January 17 2012 |

I volunteer 3 X a week or more walking dogs and training dogs at my local shelter. The hardest thing in the world is not bawling your eyes out when a dog is determined to no longer be a candidate for adoption and must be euthanized. I've gone with a dog twice to the euthanasia room and had tears leaking out of my eyes the whole time. The first time the dog had no clue and I was trying to keep it together to keep him happy up to the last minute. He got some special time outside for the hour - 2 hours before and a big cheeseburger from the drive-thru. I brought special treats. I screamed all the way home crying all alone in my car. And I hugged my furkids at home. The second time I went to the euthasia there were several of us who just loved this dog. None of us had room in our homes for either of these dogs that showed no consistency in why they bite after rigorous evaluation by a trained and certified behaviorist. This is rare at our facility, the euthanasia. We save far more dogs than we euthanize. Thank doG that spay and neuter is catching on.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 19 2012 |

No, because they would be taken home with me. It isn't their fault their owners are losers. I have read some of the reasons people give when abandoning their pets up at our local shelter, the reasons are pathetic. "Moving and new place doesn't accept dogs". Who would even look at places who do not accept pets?! We are moving next week and I only looked at places that would take my rescued 70lb Lab mix.

If you had a child would you move to an adults only community and then leave your kid at an orphanage?
To true pet owners, our dogs ARE our children.

These dogs should be given another chance, but such is the society we live in. Everything is disposable.

Submitted by Kieran. | August 18 2012 |

Such a great point.When me & my wife go away together we look for dog friendly places.
We have two dogs as we can now as our house is bigger here in Adelaide than in London.
If you are blessed to have a dog you have a gift for as long as they are alive & you have a duty to them.
Glad other people still feel the same & these carers are a special breed.God bless.

Submitted by kristi | January 19 2012 |

This is so sad, that I burst into tears when I saw the picture. It's a shame that beautiful, healthy dogs are being euthanized due to the lack of a home. I would want to help a program like this, even though I would go home broken-hearted everyday! PLEASE spay and neuter your pets so maybe someday programs like this one won't be necessary!! God bless all of the volunteers for giving love to an animal on his last night on "death row"

Submitted by Anonymous | January 19 2012 |

god bless the ppl that have the compassion to do this i wish i could i think it would feel like having my heart ripped out everytime one would have to be put down !!!rip to all the doggies that have to go threw this ...........i hope one day they all find a home and ppl are held accountable for thier actions and all the ppl that abuse dogs should all go to hell !!!!!!!!! sorry for the language but i have myself rescued dogs from awful places as the nyacc and such a tradgedy everytime i go thier ........... i try to do my best and god bless ........

Submitted by Erin | January 20 2012 |

This is truly an amazing program. Just hearing about this touches my heart. These volunteers are wonderful people, bless them. I'm sure these dogs are truly the most grateful creatures, and even once they have come to the rainbow bridge I'm sure they remember the love they felt before they died. This is a wonderful idea and I hope to start a similar program in my area one day.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 24 2012 |

Erin, Hopefully you will never have to institute this program in you area. With agressive and adequately funded spay and neuter clinics along with education about pet reproduction and responsibilities, unwanted pets won't be born.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 26 2013 |

Although spaying/neutering is still an issue, it is not the main issue. The main issue is simply laziness and selfishness on the human's part. Most dogs wind up in shelters because they are "surrendered." Until humans become more responsible and realize that these precious lives are not "disposable" there will always be innocent lives lost.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 26 2013 |

I also need to add that if people stopped buying and started adopting, we would see much less animals being killed every year. Without puppy mills, breeders, and pet stores, there would be more space in the shelters and we could become a "no-kill" country.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 27 2013 |

VERY well said! Adoption is so wonderful! I have a rescue dog and 2 rescue kitties. Prior to that I had 2 rescue doggies that lived out great lives with me also.

Submitted by Kate Cassidy | January 21 2012 |

These people are truly wonderful angels of mercy.....their hearts must be broken over & over again but they think of the poor dogs - not themselves. God bless their wonderful work. I think about how I stayed up for two nights with my dear father before he passed away....the difference being he was terminally ill whereas most of these beautiful dogs are healthy. People who abandoned their dogs/cats to this certain death should be made to read this. I am heartbroken as I write this and lok at this picture of a lsmiling dog unaware of the fate that awaits him/her...the killing will have to stop...these poor dogs didn't ask to be born.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 20 2012 |

God bless them! I wish I could be strong enough to do something like that, but I know myself and I will cry all night long.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 4 2012 |

Imiss my best mate max as i had him put down he was looking and pleading with me with his eyes he got sick but just before the vet came he come good jumping up to sit with me and cuddling up to me but i should have told the vet no to give him more time i am so sorry

Submitted by Anonymous | March 5 2012 |

I admire these people so much. There is something about a dog that looks into your soul and knows you are their protector. Unfortunately in California they are looking at a bill to reduce funding for shelters. I live in northern California and all of our shelters are 'no kill'.
As to could I do this: My german shepard was with his family up until he was euthanized due to cancer. I wish with all my heart that I had been beside him with our vet and regret to this day that I was not. So, long story short I would do this, as heartbreaking as it must be, I would do this to honor the memory of my 'Moby'.

Submitted by Sherwin Chen | March 5 2012 |

I can never bring myself to spend time with those dogs time and time again. I become too emotionally attached to dogs too easily and I would absolutely hate to see them go the very next morning. Bless these people for spending their time and taking on a very painful job.

Sherwin - http://www.hipetusa.com

Submitted by Sherwin Chen | March 27 2012 |

I can never bring myself to spend time with those dogs time and time again. I become too emotionally attached to dogs too easily and I would absolutely hate to see them go the very next morning. Bless these people for spending their time and taking on a very painful job.

Submitted by Anonymous | April 13 2012 |

These people are wonderful. If I lived in the US I would like to do this for the cats that are scheduled to be euthanised. To be honest I would like to take every person who dumps their cat or dog in a kill shelter and put them to sleep cos they do not deserve to live!!!

Submitted by Aurika | August 17 2012 |

I would be heartbroken to do this kind of thing, but I would do it, because I would want to give ANY animal the love they deserve :/ and indeed who abandon their pets, especially to die, are heartless pests that don't deserve to have pets... I just wish there would be a law where such people would be restricted from ever having another pet, unless, of course, if the animal would need to be put to sleep due health conditions... I wouldn't want my pet to suffer like that... But I would never dare to throw any out... It's just too cruel...

Submitted by Saphiresnow | August 18 2012 |

These people are just Angels in human form. I give them so much respect for this. I would love to be able to have the strength to do this. But I would just want to take all of them home with me. I once read about the Rainbow Bridge, where animals who were never "claimed" by an owner await for these loving volunteers. They stay old/hurting/alone, not like the others who have become healthy and young again. But it's when these "volunteers" show up to claim these animals. They finally get to not be in pain and become young and get to cross over with someone who loves thnd will take them all. God bless people like that the ANGELS.


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