Thursday, May 28, 2009

Please Don't Say...

Things that make my ears melt:

"Don't buy while shelter pets die" - If you or I or anyone buys a dog, that does NOT - I repeat NOT, not no way, not no how - condemn a shelter dog to death. It's a bit of propaganda (pdf alert) used by extremists to make people feel guilty for making informed decisions and exercising personal freedoms responsibly.

"Don't breed while shelter pets die" - Responsible breeders sell dogs with an agreement that they will take the dog back if necessary at any point in the dog's life. Consequently, responsible breeders do not contribute the shelter population. Responsible breeders do contribute to rescue efforts for the breeds they produce - by donations, fostering, referrals, or some other means. Again, the idea that all breeders are the same and they are all bad is just another bit of propaganda.

"Pet overpopulation is the main problem facing pets in this country" - There is no such thing as pet overpopulation in the US. We have enough homes for every shelter pet in the country. Where we fall short is not in the number of pets as compared to number of homes wanting pets - it's in the community as a whole. We need trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats, low/no cost spay-neuter clinics, and well run shelters which care for pets humanely and actively work to seek homes for those pets, even if it means going outside the local area and thinking outside the box. Especially then, actually.

"Unwanted shelter pets are euthanized to make room for more" - This is a double whammy for me. First, ending a life is only a kindness in my opinion if it prevents further suffering in a medically hopeless pet and is performed using the most humane method available by a Veterinarian. That is euthanasia. Ending the lives of healthy/treatable pets to make room for more is killing.

Second, killing adoptable pets to make room for more adoptable pets who will be killed shortly thereafter in order to make room for more... What kind of sick logic must one employ in order to think that is a good idea? Raise your hand if you think "animal shelter" means "pet slaughterhouse" (not you PETA, put your paws down, I'm not calling on you).

Here's my radical thinking: Shelters should work as hard as they can at finding homes for the pets in their care. Shelter staff should work as if they're getting paid to do it. Cos they are. And because anything less than making their absolute best efforts toward getting adoptable pets into homes greatly increases the likelihood that pets in their care will be killed. No one wants that. (I said hands down PETA!)

Need more motivation? Check out this presentation by Maddie's Fund (pdf link at bottom of page) that states we can save every adoptable pet in the United States by 2015. Heck if we can save 100% of the healthy/treatable pets in shelters by 2015, we can surely save more than we are now, starting today. So even if you don't believe we can get to a 100% save rate this year, why not try for something close? Or if that seems too far off, how about simply trying for a significant improvement? If your shelter currently has a 20% save rate, aim for 60%, starting today.

Enlist your community in implementing the No Kill Equation. Ask for help. People want to help save shelter pets. No matter what you've heard.

3 comments:

jan said...

Those set my brain on edge too as well as the lie that 25% of shelter dogs are purebred.

Pai said...

After hearing stories of shelter staff that are unable to properly identify a pit bull (sometimes even pointing out labs, etc) one does have to wonder just how accurate their designation of which dogs in their shelter are even purebred or not.

smartdogs said...

Yes! And in my rather specific case, adopting a shelter dog rather than buying a very carefully selected, well-bred puppy to raise myself might mean that *more* dogs died.

If I didn't have my very excellent canine working partners, Zip and Audie, I wouldn't be able to accomplish many of the things I do with problem dogs.