Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Punching the Clock

I used to think guarding grain silos from the starving masses in a third world country would be the worst job ever. Standing between human suffering and the means to relieve that suffering while threatening violence seems like misery defined. But as much as that job would suck, it is a fact that distributing food without proper order merely hurts starving people more while local organized crime thugs gain power. So there is a valid reason the grain silos must be guarded instead of simply letting people have at them. And it's actually a humane reason, intended to do more good than harm in the long run.

Now I think the worst job in the world, for me, would be working in an animal shelter where I'd have to kill a pet. No matter how much good I might be capable of doing, I know I could not kill a pet I was supposed to be protecting. Even if, in my hypothetical shelter job, I was able to save 99% of the pets my shelter took in, I could not kill a pet. Note that I am not talking about euthanasia which to me, is the humane act of ending the suffering of a medically hopeless pet. I have done that. I'm referring to killing healthy/treatable pets.

One might argue that with all the good I'm doing in my hypothetical shelter job, I should just accept that I can't possibly save every single animal that comes through the doors. That I should focus on the positive and think about all the good my shelter has done. That I have to work within the system in order to change it and accept the fact that there is no magic wand. Perhaps those arguments make sense in my head but in my heart - no. I could not justify killing 1% or 1/2% or one healthy/treatable pet at my shelter. So my head is on some level grateful that we have people out there in shelters doing good, working for change, and improving save numbers all over the country. But my heart knows that shelter pets are completely at our mercy, that without our compassion they have no hope and that there is no humane reason to kill even one. And it breaks my heart to think that the shelter workers out there who are working hard to save more pets are sometimes the same people forced to kill pets.

There are enough homes for every pet in this country. Getting them all into those homes is a multi-faceted and challenging community task. But it is achievable. We are a humane society. Join us.

It's time.

3 comments:

jan said...

The No Kill movement is gaining. The Kill as many as they can is losing.

Schwang said...

What a good post. I agree, it would be one of the hardest jobs for me as well. At the same time I remember an HBO(?) special where there was a no kill shelter, but the dogs lived a miserable existence locked up in a kennel without companionship--some of the dogs were 9 or 10 and had lived there since they were puppies. I know there's no perfect balance, but the good part is there are a lot of people trying to educate and reduce the population in the first place before it gets to this stage. Miss M. had a date on the calendar to be euthanized the following day. We feel so lucky to have her.

Anonymous said...

Working in a slaughterhouse wouldn't be a picnic either.