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Murderers? Sadists? This is getting ridiculous…

May 31, 2015



It’s really nothing new – the impassioned masses get wind of a topic that seems so horrific they must speak out against such an obvious wrong. They shake their fists and scream for reform, convinced they have the moral high ground on the issue. But in reality, they don’t have all the facts and certainly don’t have any viable solutions. As well-meaning as they may be, they have fallen victim to the propaganda and hysteria. Generally these pitchfork wielding antagonists loose their zeal for the issue as quickly as they found it and are on to the next controversial injustice of the moment… Unless the issue is traditional open admission (“kill”) animal shelters. Then, it seems, the misinformed rabble pitches a tent, builds a fire, and camps out for the duration. They infiltrate Facebook, blogs, and other webpages looking for any opportunity to call out the “sadistic” ways of traditional shelters. It’s time to set the record straight: animal shelters aren’t the enemy, and their staffs certainly aren’t “murders” or euthanizing animals for fun.


“No Kill” Isn’t What You Think

I can already hear those chants of “NO KILL” and “Austin did it!” as I type. Sigh. I don’t know how to break this to you, but “no-kill” doesn’t really mean that no animals are dying at the hands of the shelter, directly or indirectly. “No kill” actually means that the shelter maintains a high live release rate (generally about 90%) for ADOPTABLE animals. The ill, injured, fearful, anxious, elderly, etc will be deemed unadoptable and likely euthanized. The animals who need help the most will slip through the clandestine loophole and never make it out alive.

At least those healthy, well-adjusted, adoptable animals won’t be “murdered” at the shelter!
Well, you’ve got me there. Assuming those animals don’t get sick or develop any behavioral issues that get them switched to the unadoptable list, they will hopefully get adopted and not spend the rest of their lives institutionalized in shelter kennels.

But, think of all those furbabies we will save – I can pick up a stray and take it to the shelter knowing nothing bad will happen!
Nope, so very wrong. “No kill” shelters operate on a closed-door admission policy. That means the shelter is not obligated to take in any animal. If the shelter is full or adoptability is questionable, the animal will not be granted admission. So what will happen to the rejected animals? Well, there are many fates worse than humane euthanasia at a traditional shelter. Abandonment is the kindest of those fates I can think of and hope for.

What about rescue organizations? Won’t they be able to take those animals?
“No kill” doesn’t magically reduce the number of homeless animals. Normally, the traditional shelter works with rescues, transferring as many animals at risk of euthanasia as possible to rescues willing and able to care for them until adoption. In a “no kill” scenario, the animals in the shelter are considered “safe”, so rescues will instead be inundated with urgent pleas for animals not admitted to the shelter. Without the initial health evaluations and vetting normally provided in a traditional shelter setting, rescues will not be able to estimate financial obligations for care. Responsible rescues will tighten the reigns, taking in fewer animals and avoiding those with possibly expensive vet needs altogether (like the injured or elderly who need rescue most). They will be extremely cautious to only bite off what they can chew in effort to simply stay afloat.

These realities are just the tip of the iceberg. I strongly encourage everyone to truly explore the rippling effects of a adopting a “no kill” policy and the impact on Animal Services and the community as a whole. Frustrated with ACO response times and code enforcement now? Boy, you are going to LOVE the nonexistent assistance to come!


Actively Part of the Solution… or Part of the Problem

Shelters aren’t to blame for the aggregation of homeless animals or the current euthanasia rates. Holding them responsible shows a real lack of understanding of what animal services work is like in the trenches. To call shelter vets and staff “murderers” or “sadists” displays a true ignorance of the commitment and undertaking involved. It’s offensive not only to the shelter workers, but also to everyone involved in animal rescue/advocacy working together for real change at the most basic levels where the problem actually starts.

Look to the root cause of euthanasia rates in shelters. The criticism and anger should be directed to the general public. Take a hard look at yourself and those around you to see where the problem really lies — it’s not just the breeders, the owners oblivious to the necessity of spay/neuter, or the irresponsible/uneducated handlers. It’s also anyone who supports those behaviors and mind-sets by not making an active effort to ensure a positive well being for the animals at the heart of this crusade.

None of us want animals to die, and I would love to see a day where every animal has a home. Until then, we must respond realistically. “No kill” is not the miracle solution it is assumed to be. Animal shelters are at the end of a long chain of actions; so to start with reform at the shelter level and work backward to the sources is simply a losing battle.

  1. “We’ve done a shameful job with Mother Natures’ task, and of our hearts we should certainly ask: why breed while millions die, the answer is money, it can’t be denied. Would they change their ways if they had to choose who dies, while looking into their trusting eyes? Others left to feel that pain, as they lovingly caress as a life slips away. Until a tortured Angels’ soul leaves a body alive or dead, for a place it doesn’t hurt to be mans’ best friend. Excerpt from “For Ferris”

  2. I’m continually learning about this plight – from both sides and ‘all around’. thanks for making me think…Yes, indeed, WE are the ones to blame.

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