Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What's So Funny 'bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

What's so scary about not killing shelter pets?

Unless a pet is medically hopeless and suffering, I don't understand why considering alternatives to death is such a difficult concept to embrace. It's true that some dogs will be deemed dangerous by shelters but even for those dogs, sanctuary options may exist - why not seriously consider those options when death is the only other card left in play?

Why do so many of us seem to be stuck in old-think even as we say we support new ideas?

Old-Think: There is a pet overpopulation problem in this country.
New Idea: There are enough homes for all the shelter pets in this country and pet overpopulation is a myth.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Fine then - any objection to at least trying to improve matters and kill fewer pets?

Old-Think: Breeders and irresponsible owners are to blame for pets being killed in shelters.
New Idea: Shelters do not have to kill pets in their care. Instead of laying blame, they can reach out to the community to improve the situation by offering low/no cost neuter services, TNR programs and adopting out pets.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: OK so how is the Blame Game working out for you so far - any improvement in kill ratios?

Old-Think: There are a limited number of spaces in shelters, rescues and foster homes for homeless pets so some pets must be killed in order to make room for others.
New Idea: The no kill community is growing, not remaining static. New spaces will continue to open up for pets in need as we continue to expand our movement.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Change=life. Absence of change=death. If you're living, your world is changing. Join us.

Old-Think: Dogs deemed "dangerous" must be euthanized.
New Idea: Many people (myself included) are not qualified to determine if a dog is truly dangerous. A qualified individual should conduct a fair evaluation of a dog in order to determine the next step in rehab training. Evaluation is not a pass/fail, life/death test. It is a step in the process of helping a dog.
I refuse to consider this New Idea: Well hopefully you will at least network with rescue groups and release the dog to a qualified rescue if such an offer is made. No one wants to kill a dog when a reasonable alternative exists, right?

Title hat tip to Elvis Costello:

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin' for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There's one thing I wanna know:
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away, just makes me wanna cry.
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?


Angela said...

At least where I'm from, we keep humans that kill (not only kill, but plan it out and completely understand what they're doing) alive and fed and educated inside walls that protect the public from them. I don't really understand why that's an acceptable practice but some people think that the idea of keeping a "dangerous" dog alive and fed and well in a sanctuary is ludicrous. I'm not trying to compare human life to a dog's life, but I don't see why one is acceptable and preferred and the other is a crazy idea.

Julie said...

Just finished reading "Irreconcilable Differences", Nathan Winograd's excellent new book of essays. Great post.

Susan said...

Outstanding blog post, Shirley. Says so much in so few words that maybe people will read it. Many eloquent explanations are lost on people who stop reading after the second paragraph.

Anonymous said...

I've attended many humane conferences, and have concluded that most rescue groups are at least 10 years behind the times. If you insist on making people jump through 10,000 flaming hoops to adopt a pet, they WILL go to a breeder or pet store. Also, people don't like to be blamed - they like to blame everything on the "irresponsible public." That makes it all nice and easy. People still push for and in fact insist on things that don't work and in fact hinder our work such as limit laws and MSN laws.

By the way, I think I love you, in a totally platonic and non stalkerish way:)

YesBiscuit! said...

This is the first time to my memory that someone has used the "Anonymous" comment feature to say they loved me. Usually it's used for the other end of the spectrum. Maybe this is the start of a new trend?!

Pai said...

The AR folks who have infiltrated many parts of the sheltering world are against No-Kill for one main reason -- because without the existence of miserable, dying animals in shelters that they can publish pictures of in their ad campaigns, they will lost their main justification for their constant push for mandatory S/N and breeder restrictions/bans. They HAVE to keep claiming the line goes straight from breeders to shelters to support their own worldview, which basically claims 90% of humanity is so evil and irresponsible that we don't deserve to have animals in our homes.

Anonymous said...

So, how do we get these aggressive dogs into sanctuaries? This is a serious question.

I tried for SIX MONTHS to get a Pit Bull cross I had worked with into a sanctuary. Everybody was 'full'. I must have emailed and called hundreds of sanctuaries. This dog had been seized from her owner in NYC after he nearly beat her to death and was justifiably nervous around new people. She was also so severely dog aggressive that she would kill another animal. She was deemed unfit for a home, but I was given time to train her and attempt to find a sanctuary placement. After multiple deadlines were extended, her time was finally up for good. The most I could do was to be there for her as she was euthanized. I held her in my arms and told her that she was a good girl and that I loved her, and she died.

NO sanctuary would accept her, and most did not even bother to return my calls or emails. I can be quite persistant, but oftentimes it took 3-5 contact attempts before a sanctuary even replied, and then only to tell me that they could not accept her. I lined up a sizeable donation to go with her to the sanctuary... still no dice. She had a heartbreaking story, including photographs showing the severe abuse she had suffered at a young age (she had been beaten so badly around her head that she looked like a shar-pei from all the swelling). She was also basic obedience trained and trick trained, so she was a joy to be around once she opened up and trusted a person.

So I am truly curious, how do you propose to find sanctuary placements for these so-called 'unadoptable' dogs? Because if there's something more I could have done, I would really like to know this so that I may be able to save another dog in the future. I have a picture of my girl on the wall in my bedroom, and I look at her smiling face every day and feel sad about her death two years ago. She would have been five years old this year.

YesBiscuit! said...

Dear "Anonymous",
As I say regularly on the blog, sanctuary options often don't exist for dogs. That's why I thought it was so sad the ASPCA refused to even consider the sanctuary offer made for Oreo and killed her instead.
If you are willing to contact me privately - eiderdown---at---yesbiscuit---dot---com with the documentation to back up your claims, I will be happy to share your story with readers. I don't personally have all the answers, but by sharing individual stories, we can all learn and put our heads together and continue to move forward.

Me said...

Quick correction: Nick Lowe wrote What's So Funny. Elvis Costello just covered it. If I remember correctly, Costello even sort of denounced the song in the liner notes on Armed Forces.

With that vital information out of the way, the pet overpopulation myth is deeply entrenched. It's the sort of thing most people haven't even questioned. I've found it frustrating, too, that so many people don't even seem willing to consider it an option.

And the myths come from all sources, too. In fact, one that's bothered me for a really long time is one I hear repeated in bully breed rescue a lot, that only 1 in 600 'pit bulls' find a permanent home. I've tried to get to the bottom of this, but with no luck. I've seen people repeat it time and time again, and I've even seen reputable rescue groups selling t-shirts and bags touting it. I just can't find anything to back it up.

Something like that could understandably cause someone to throw up their hands and give up. It just seems so huge, so insurmountable, that any effort to stop the killing seems almost futile.(Even if it were true, which I do not believe for a second, it wouldn't be an excuse, but it'd make the resistance to no kill a little more understandable.)