So Many Choices

I suspected something was up when it was "spa time” for me and my big sis, Lola. Seems we always get a bath and pawdicure a couple of days before we go to meet new human friends . . .

It was very, very early in the morning. Dee slipped freshly pressed bandanas around our necks and whispered as she tied them, “You’re both going to earn your kibble today.” “Oh right,” I remembered, “we had baths on Sunday.” After a short car ride, Dee opened the door and I sniffed all the exciting animal smells around the Hunterdon County Polytech Animal Technologies building. “I remember this place!” I howled as I pulled Dee and Lola inside the door to the classroom. Within moments students gathered around us, making those soothing “awwww” sounds and scratching me behind the ears. This is one of my favorite parts of being a Spokespup for

These two workshops were especially important to me. Not only were we exploring issues of overcrowded animal shelters in New Jersey, Dee was sprinkling in specific information about dogs like me - bully breeds who had been left without a good home. We were 'celebrating' National Pitbull Awareness Day, after all.

Both the morning and afternoon groups considered recent animal shelter statistics from various viewpoints. First they took a look at the U.S. numbers, then analyzed NJ-only numbers. It's unfathomable that on average, 60 cats and dogs die in New Jersey shelters every day! Where do all these animals come from? Dee pointed to more than half a dozen sources and reasons that land companion animals in the sheltering system.

After compiling a list of possible solutions, the students further explored the most popular choice, Animal Rescue. They worked through the toughest - but the most realistic - task by choosing to save 10 dogs out of a group of 16 (knowing that the remaining six most likely wouldn't make it out of the shelter alive.) There were no right or wrong choices in this "Rescue Role Play" - just difficult ones.

The students looked again at the possible solutions and classified each approach as either a prevention or a reaction. Lola and I encouraged everyone to keep working on both types of approaches; we must work together to #StopRoverpopulation!

Here are links to the three videos that were part of these workshops:

Opening Video - Choices

Every 12 Seconds

Ending Video - Choose Me 

Please enjoy the photos, too. Many thanks to Madeline Sunga for supporting us and taking great pics and video!

Posted in Alvin's Journey, Presentations & Workshops and tagged , , .

Alvin joined the team in August 2014 after winning a two-week battle with parvo. He originally lived in a Northern NJ municipality, where he was severely neglected. Luckily he was rescued by Second Chance Pet Adoption League and came to us as a "foster" pup. He is enjoying life in the country and continues to grow and learn in his role as Junior Spokespup.


  1. I thought it was a very helpful presentation in understanding how the people who run the shelters have extremely difficult decisions to make. The way you brought a quick little activity to real life made it a lot easier to understand. I don’t think I would’ve really felt how difficult it was to pick animals to euthanise without having done that activity. Thank you for coming to Polytech and educating us.

  2. I really enjoyed your presentation! I thought it was very informative and moving. It really enabled me to look at rescue work from a different perspective by doing interactive activities rather than just being talked at.

  3. Thank you so much for coming by and informing us on this issue. It really means a lot that there are people who care about the animals that are suffering in shelters nation wide. We all really learned a lot from you, your presentation, and your amazing doggies. Thank you!

  4. I really learned a lot through the presentation. The activities we did were fun and educational. Her dogs are so cute but have been through a lot. I still can’t believe how many animals are unthized each year. I feel so sorry for the animals animals that are being unthized. If anyone who can relate if you can adopt a pit bull do so. They are the second nicest dogs. I will do what I can to save the animals. I hope who ever feels this way do the same not for me but for the animals.

  5. The presentation opened my eyes to topics not discussed in public that news doesn’t pick to talk about. It was really heart felt. All the stats and videos showed how many animals that are “too overpopulated” be put down by shelters and even rescues 1.6 million dogs a year don’t make it and about 3.2 million.cats don’t make it out alive. Most shelters there is a two week adoption limit there are. Issues that are getting better than they were previously. The prestigious was really good and inspiring to help and get involved in making a difference and an overall change.

  6. I thought that the presentation was great. The opportunity to have a speaker come and talk to us about the different types of rescue groups. And she also made a good point to have some hands on/workshop type activities in order to help us to better understand what choices we have to make when looking at a dog(s) and what the dog’s qualities and personality is. This way you can find a suitable home for the animal. the speaker did a wonderful job with her presentation. I learned a whole lot from what she said.

  7. I viewed Dee as someone who was very inspiring to someone like me who also wants to rescue animals from shelters as well. I thought it was very interesting that she showed us different statistics about shelters and which animals are euthanized more in shelters. The activities she did with us felt very realistic to me. In one of the activities, we had to choice between 10 dogs to save out of a group of 16, it was very hard, but it was realist to what someone would have to do in a real situation. The videos we were shown were also very inspiring to me because it really made

  8. I still think it’s crazy how many animals are euthanized daily, I never really thought that there huge amounts of animals dying in shelters alone. You can only imagine how many other animals die daily on the streets. Overall, the presentation was very insightful and provided a lot of new information to me.

  9. This presentation was eye opening. It touched many of us, and upset most of the class. But that is the best way to get a point across- to hit someone’s emotions- and it definitely did so. Picking only 10 dogs to save out of 16 was definitely the hardest part.
    Thank you so much for coming in!

  10. The presentation by HarnessLife to our school was an eye opener. The topic of discussion was choices, how the choices you make can leave a major impact on the lives of the many animals, that are displace and in need of a home. This was a much needed conversation to have and at times the moment became quite emotional , especially when put into the position where you were given the choice of picking only ten out of the sixteen pictures of the dogs provided, to rescue. The activity of choosing only ten dogs to save was difficult, but it just made the moment of choosing that much more important and realistic, that this is often the types of situations we run into when working with animals. Overall this presentation was a true inspiration that provided me with a new insight, into the world of helping animals.

  11. I learned a lot from the presentation. It was very eye opening and it gave me a new way to look at things. I enjoyed the interactive activities and. I really enjoyed the fact that she did not just read statistics but let us take a first hand view of the world of shelters.

  12. The presentation was an eye opener, I didn’t realize how many animals were being put into shelters and how many were euthanized. I think the event at the end where we had to choose 10 dogs to rescue was the biggest eye opener because of how hard it was to choose 10 dogs and leave six behind.

  13. This presentation was very inspiring ito not just me but my other classmates. A lot of the things that she talked about I didn’t know or wasn’t aware of . After hearing her speek about how there are so many animals in the selter that don’t make it out alive makes me what to go out and try to help out in my local shelter. The activity that she had us do was very hard for me and many of my classmates. Dee gave use a packet of pictures of dog and their bios we where only allowed to pick 10 out of the 16 dog That she gave us. This was a very hard task once my group picked out our dogs we where able to show our classmates what dogs we picked and what dogs we had to leave behind. The one thing that I took away from this presentation is to never give up hope and to always keep trying.

  14. I never knew that their was so many hard decisions made to decide what animals were going to make it or not. I realized that shelter go off of if the animal is healthy and how much it cost to keep them. I think that this was an eyeopener to our class, how puppy mills and pet shops effects where we get our dogs and what condition they are in.

  15. This presentation was very informative and I learnt a lot that made me think. It was interesting to hear Alvin’s story after we had seen what he looked like when the rescue company got him.

  16. It is important to know about the numbers of animals that end up in shelters,and die in shelter so that we are aware.we must be aware to be a part of the solution not the problem.if we just make people aware of these problems hopefully we can slim these numbers and maybe one day no animal will die in a shelter just because someone didn’t want them or couldn’t take care of glad that dee came into our class to teach us about these issues.

  17. I thought the overall presentation was very enlightening and engaging. I learned many things I did not know before. We did a few activities where we had to make some difficult decisions but found out that it really is possible to save the animals lives.

  18. I thought that this presentation was very helpful and taught me a lot about shelters in the United States. I learned how we can prevent and lower the numbers of of animals in the shelters. Before this presentation I didn’t know how bad the outcome would be for the animals in shelters. I really liked hearing about this because it made me more aware of what I can do to try and prevent this.

  19. I’m glad and grateful that we had this presentation. I had no idea that so many animals were killed in shelters everyday. We also learned that sometimes, important and difficult decisions need to be made to care for animals. It is important to save as many animals as possible, however taking in more animals than you can handle in a rescue can cause problems for both you and the animals.

  20. I thought the presentation was really well put together and it gave us insight on real statistics relating to the animal shelters and rescue organizations in and around New Jersey. It opened my eyes more to the hard decisions that animal rescue groups have to make every day. All in all, I loved the psentation and I loved the dogs even more. 🙂

  21. This presentation was put together well with great information about animal shelters, animal rescues, and how many animals are euthanized due to over population. This information is not heard out in the public so it was very interesting and helpful to hear what happens to animals when they are needed. Thank you for sharing your presentation!

  22. Dee provided us with a lot of shocking information. I’m appreciative that you came to Polytech to show us these details. I thought the way you used the activity about picking the dogs was smart because it helped showed us what people have to do sometimes… And its hard for us to pick the ones with just pictures so I imagine how real people must feel when they’re picking real, breathing animals. Overall, it was a very helpful presentation that gave us a lot of real information, thank you!

  23. Yesterday’s guest speaker informed us all about how cats and dogs are treated all over the world in different shelters or backyard breeders. Many dogs and cats are put down more then then being adopted especially cats. Some shelters kills these animals when they’re not even sick just because they don’t have enough money or room to shelter them for a long period of time. These shelters sometimes are so dirty that these animals sit in their feces for days and catch diseases that can lead to death. She also informed us that we can help these animals by adopting the instead of buying them from a breeder this way they won’t get abused and put down for no reason.

  24. I really liked the presentation. It gave everyone a lot of insight regarding important topics and I thought it was very well put together.

  25. The presentation was very interesting. We did a little rescue activity where we could only say certain dogs. It was hard when you gave us a budget so we had to pick the dogs that would at least have a chance to recover and get adopted. We had to pick the ones with the least health and behavioral issues. Now I understand how hard it is for rescue groups to pick the dogs or any animal that they can rescue. It is heart breaking when you leave animals behind because you keep saying you can save them. I found this very informative because you understand what shelters do to animals. Most shelters are kill shelters. It helped when you showed us what actually happens to animals that do not get adopted. You brought it to real life and helped us understand it better. Thank you for coming to polytech and it was really nice to see you and your pups again.

  26. I thought the presentation was very well put together. It was packed with information including lots of facts and statistics. It was an eye opener to some of the things that go on in shelters. Also the dogs were cute!

  27. This powerful and very real presentation had effected every person in the audience. The stories of Alvin and other shelter dogs like him broke the hearts of all of us. But through all of this heart break, dee and her canine companions managed to keep a cheerful and positive mood. Having this group visit us and inform us on what truly goes on in shelters was an unforgettable experience, and one I am grateful to have had. Thank you!

  28. I think we all walked away with a new perspective on animal rescues and shelters from Dee’s presentation. It was very helpful and really well put together.

  29. I thought the presentation was very informative and opened my eyes to the overwhelming amount of animals that are euthanized every day. She let us experience the choices first hand by making us choose 10 of the 16 dogs in the shelter. It was a hard decision picking only 10 knowing that the rest of the dogs would most likely be euthanized. This activity made me realize that difficult choices have to sometimes be done in order to save and care for animals. Dee did very well in making the presentation emotional and insightful. Thank you!

  30. The presentation allowed for a great deal of insight into the consequences of shopping for dogs as well as neglecting to spay or neuter your animals. The activity allowed us to realize the difficulty of working in a shelter situation and the life or death decisions that need to be made in order to keep saving dogs. Your visit was extremely eye opening and we were all able to take away helpful information that will have a lasting impact on our lives in the animal welfare field.

  31. The presentation really opened my eyes to how many animals are killed a day for no reason. It made me realize how many animals just sit in shelters their whole lives and never have a family to be happy. I learned a lot from this presentation.

  32. I thought the presentation was very interesting and emotional. It was even touching. I knew about the fake organizations just saying they are going to help the animals but really put them down but I didnt know how many there were. Alvins story was interesting yet touching, I mean who would do such thing to such a good adorable loving animal like him? Thank you for coming out to teach us and bringing Lola and Alvin, they are so cute!

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