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MailTribune.com
  • 'Go to Sleep, Little Baby'

  • Each year, more than 1,100 dogs and 3,700 cats are put to sleep by lethal injection at the Jackson County Animal Shelter.
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    • Donna Patnesky
      Age: 52
      Job title: Kennel technician
      Job description: Looks after animals, helps customers, euthanizes unadoptable animals
      Salary: Range of $8 to $13 an hour
      Education: Some college
      ...
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      Donna Patnesky
      Age: 52

      Job title: Kennel technician

      Job description: Looks after animals, helps customers, euthanizes unadoptable animals

      Salary: Range of $8 to $13 an hour

      Education: Some college

      How long at the job: 15 years

      If you could have your dream job today, what would it be? "This is it."
  • Each year, more than 1,100 dogs and 3,700 cats are put to sleep by lethal injection at the Jackson County Animal Shelter.
    They die because of a variety of reasons: They're too old, they're ill, they're too aggressive or there are just too many of them to house them all.
    It's Donna Patnesky's job to see that they're euthanized humanely and with dignity.
    "Some days, it bothers me more than others," says Patnesky. "You learn to put a wall up and just do it. But you can't be cold and mechanical. The majority of these animals have never been treated fairly; it's our job to be humane."
    Patnesky says shelter workers are "not here to kill animals," but they're forced to euthanize so many because of people's irresponsible treatment of animals and because not enough owners spay and neuter their pets.
    The animals are evaluated for adoptability or euthanization based on health, age, behavior and appearance.
    A gentle 12-year-old cat may be adoptable during a slow season, but not when the shelter is flooded with litters — sometimes up to 50 kittens a day in late spring. Black kittens are common, so when there's 100 of them awaiting adoption, clearly not all will find homes.
    Some dogs are unable to adapt to the shelter and start showing aggression and protecting their cage, making them unadoptable. An older dog that has been mistreated and snaps, growls or shows its teeth virtually has no chance of being adopted.
    For a feral tomcat that runs up the wall till it hits the ceiling, then charges at shelter workers, the same verdict must be rendered, says Patnesky: No chance of adoption.
    Euthanization is done on a stainless steel table in a small exam room. Aggressive animals are held on the table while Patnesky injects an overdose of anesthesia.
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