Unnatural Disaster: Shelter Killing in America

I love our country.  And the people in it.  When faced with a crisis, there’s no one I’d rather have in my corner.  We step up to help when we see our neighbors in need – whether they are our next door neighbors in Yazoo City, MS or our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  We open our hearts, our homes and our wallets – we do whatever we can to help.

That’s why I wish we could spread the word that there is a crisis in America happening right now – not a natural disaster but a most unnatural one:  The needless killing of friendly pets in animal shelters.

I say needless because when you look at the math, it’s indisputable – there ARE enough homes for the all the pets in shelters in this country.  All we have to do is get them there.  And I honestly believe that if the cable news shows reported this as breaking news, giving it the same sensational treatment afforded to Tiger Woods’ sex life, Americans would answer the call to help shelter pets.

Nobody would have to organize us and tell us what to do, everyone would just know to do the right thing.  Because we’re Americans and we know about doing what’s right.  We already know that killing healthy/treatable pets in shelters is wrong but we turn away from it.  We turn away by rationalizing it as a “necessity” due to so-called overpopulation or an irresponsible society.  But with a little education, everyone can learn the truth – that there is no pet overpopulation problem in this country, there is a shelter killing problem; that there is an irresponsible segment of our society but they are the minority.  And with the slightest amount of soul searching, everyone would realize that they’ve known all along it’s wrong to kill friendly pets in shelters.

It’s downright un-American.  We are a strong people who want to use our privilege and blessings to help – not kill.  We do not stand idly by while our neighbors suffer – we reach out, we offer a hand up.  And our communities’ pets are our neighbors and this is all they need – a hand up to save them from death.

Not everyone can adopt.  But everyone can do something.  Whether that means educating the public, volunteering at your local shelter, or donating some cash to your local shelter.  Maybe you want to adopt but can’t right now – could you offer to pay the adoption fee for someone else who’d like to adopt but can’t afford to do so?  Could you spend an hour at your local shelter petting cats or walking dogs who are hungry for human affection?  Could you look up information for your co-worker who needs to get a pet neutered but doesn’t know how to find a low cost clinic in your area?

Imagine if everyone who cared did something toward ending the needless killing of shelter pets all on the same day.  Imagine that.  Now imagine if everyone did a little something every day.  Could we dramatically reduce the shelter pet population in this country?  Could we transform our communities into no kill communities?  I believe we could.

When Americans demand change, there is no stopping us.  We are a country built on revolution.  There is a no kill revolution happening in this country and if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way.  But if you would like to stand with us, if you’d like to be on the side that chooses to end the killing, please join us.

America is better than a country that needlessly kills its pets – much, much better.  We are a humane society.  Let’s right this wrong.  This is the moment.  Change is at hand.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m always amazed when time after time the public is made aware of a particular problem, an abused dog needing help, puppy mill dogs needing homes so many people step forward to help by adopting or donating.

    I think a better marketing plan for the shelter problem would go a long way toward solving it.

    Reply
  2. alice in LALA land

     /  April 25, 2010

    The very FIRST thing to do to get animals out of shelters and into homes is to ELIMINATE PET LIMTS.. when a person can only have two pets.. or three pets.. including all cats and dogs.. shelter animals will continue to be killed for “lack of good homes” when really there are plenty of good homes who are “at their limit” for their locale.. for instance.. people in a a PA town must “get rid of” 10 of their dogs.. they have SIX ACRES of property.. and housing for all of the dogs inside.. but the area is “limited” to three pets .. no matter what size property you own..and shelter workers claim.. “we HAVE to kill”.. BS and double BS..

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth

     /  April 26, 2010

    Read Nathan Winograd’s book “Redemption, The Myth of Pet Overpopulation”. Mr. Winograd is one of the founders of the No-Kill Shelter movement and he says it is NOT about pet overpopulation but about poor shelter management and a lack of owner responsibility and it CAN be solved.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Fickel

     /  April 27, 2010

    Only problem is that in my opinion, the majority shelters deep down do NOT want to be out of business.
    Yes, business, not a charity.
    They work in coordination with AR groups, to slowly make it more difficult for breedres to sell puppies, so that they will become the next pet store.
    I do NOT disagree with the premise of trying to get more of the suitable dogs into homes.
    Based on my experience, some people that hae tried a shelter dog, return it, and then seek out a puppy.
    Yes, even your shelter workers buy puppies from breeders.
    Our local shelter refused the sale of a three legged beagle for quite some time as she was a good cash cow. Brought in more than $10,000 in donations.
    Another one, located about 80 miles away, actively goes to auctions and buys dogs for resale.
    All the credit to those very few shelters, that truly do care about not having to exist.

    Reply
  5. Thank you for writing this. I spend so much time trying to debunk the myth of pet overpopulation – and engaged in a war of the words with the Old Guard, standing at the Gates of The Status Quo – that I often just become so tired and find myself wondering if anyone is listening. If anyone cares out there. My latest project on my web site is actually about the lies shelters tell us and I used quotes from things people have actually said or written to me (“The Life” is on my Principles page).

    I had a verbal exchange with the leader of a New York based nonprofit yesterday which involved Nathan. To say she loathes him is likely an understatement. I know that he’s a polarizing figure and I know a lot of people aren’t buyin’ what he’s sellin’. But in line with “The Great Meddler” and “The Outsider,” I view him as “The Whistle Blower” or “The General” of a battle in which many of us are engaged each and every day. And I have told him as much.

    I know I don’t have to pull out my list of favorite quotes from Redemption here even though there are many. If the public knew what was going on and knew that they hold the keys to change, we could stop the needless killing. I really believe that in my heart. They have been sold the bill of goods about overpopulation and don’t even know it: ”shelter animals die so shelter animals must be suffering or damaged in some way; we wouldn’t kill them if there wasn’t something wrong with them, right?” Heavy sigh. No, my friend, there’s nothing wrong with 90 percent of them. They’re just homeless.

    Reply
    • My reply to those who hate Nathan Winograd and say pet overpopulation is real is simply this: Show me how Nathan’s math is incorrect. I will listen. I am hard headed but open minded and if someone can offer up a mathematical explanation for how pet overpopulation is accurate, let’s get that on the table and discuss it.

      Reply
      • I have not talked numbers with the person I referenced. Her issue is with Oreo’s law and I know you’ve had a number of entries here on the subject. I know some of the history of Pets Alive. I have friends who volunteer there. So when I learned Oreo’s fate, in light of the life she could have lived, it made perfect sense for me to support a law in New York which is similar to Hayden’s Law in California.

  6. Lynn

     /  April 28, 2010

    I’m not a fan of Nathan W because he isn’t entirely truthful about some people in animal welfare and certainly not about things he’s done in the past. Tompkins County indeed. What a train wreck that was.

    However, going no-kill is a goal to reach for and it absolutely is attainable now. I love the OP and believe it could very much be a call to action for the millions of Americans who simply aren’t aware of the problem. And let’s face it, most of them are unaware because they don’t really want to know – the same way they don’t really want to know what happens to the animals before they eat them.

    I just can’t get on board with Nathan while he’s spouting lies.

    Reply
    • I’m with Valerie. Yes, please. I’d like to hear about the lies you say he has told and how TC was a train wreck.

      I know that he is a divisive person and I know that many people think he’s just too far off the reservation to bother with. Perhaps I’m being naive, but my position is this: if the No Kill Equation is working in many places, what’s wrong with exploring how it can save more lives?

      I guess I focus less on the messenger than I focus on 1) the history of how we got into this mess and 2) tools we can use to get out of it.

      Reply
  7. Lynn, what lies? And in what way was Tompkins County a “train wreck”? I was a volunteer at the TCSPCA prior to his arrival and while he was there and I would describe the transformation he wrought as a miracle, not a “train wreck”.

    Reply

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