Needless Shelter Pet Killing and the OSPCA

First, an update on the ringworm killings at OSPCA:

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals now says there will not be a mass euthanization of animals at a shelter north of Toronto.


Rob Godfrey, chair of the animal protection agency, said most of the animals — about two-thirds — will be re-examined and treated on a “case by case” basis. No determination will be made on whether to euthanize the animals until they have been examined, he said.

About 230 pets — most of them dogs and cats — will be treated for ringworm infection. According to the OSPCA, 96 animals are already being cared for by volunteers.

Great news for those pets not already needlessly killed by OSPCA.

Second, a reader writes:

Start checking how many animals are killed by municipal pounds in the course of a year. The body count will make the OSPCA count look trifling.

Context is important.  The potential for 350 pets to be summarily killed by the agency assigned to protect them is the context here – not how many other shelter pets are needlessly killed elsewhere.  Because if we start comparing numbers of shelter pet killings in relation to the merits or lack thereof in the OSPCA ringworm killing case, we are agreeing that killing friendly/treatable pets is acceptable.

It is a false equivalency to say killing 350 pets with athlete’s foot is not so bad when you consider the millions of friendly/treatable pets killed in shelters all over North America every year.  The only way to avoid this fallacy is to begin with the premise that killing friendly shelter pets is necessary, even though regrettable.  And I categorically refute that this premise has any basis in fact, nor is it in any way ethically grounded.

Rather, it is my view that every healthy/treatable shelter pet should be well cared for until adopted into a suitable permanent home or sanctuary.  Every single one.  Therefore I am outraged at OSPCA’s initial announcement that it would kill 350 treatable shelter pets.  Just as I am upset when I read that they’ve caved to the public condemnation of this heinous act and might only kill 1/3 that number.  Just as I would be heartbroken had they announced they were killing one friendly pet with ringworm.  Those kinds of acts – the killing of a single shelter pet – usually do not receive media attention though and so often go unreported.  But it doesn’t make it any more acceptable because it’s only one, or one hundred, or whatever happens to be the number of the day.

Yes, there are many pets in shelters being needlessly killed as we speak.  And there are children dying for lack of clean drinking water or a mosquito net.  There is all manner of suffering and injustice available in this world of ours but that doesn’t mean we should justify any of it by placing it on a scale of evils.  The only thing that keeps us from falling to complete ruin is that people of good heart help others.  It takes all of us to do what we can in whatever area(s) most touch our hearts.  Compassion does not operate on a scale of evils.

One thought on “Needless Shelter Pet Killing and the OSPCA

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful essay.

    As Frank Klees said, with respect to the halt to the OSPCA cull, “This is the right thing to do. It’s just unfortunate that it’s two days late. Now we have to ensure that we get to the bottom of how we got here and ensure this never happens again.”

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