Why Your Shelter is Failing

If your local animal shelter is killing healthy/treatable pets, it’s failing.  Here’s how the shelter director will explain the needless killing:

  • Pet overpopulation:  There are just too many pets and not enough homes for all of them.
  • Lack of MSN:  Because we don’t have a mandatory spay-neuter law here like they do in other places where they are able to save most of their shelter pets, we must continue killing the unwanted products of irresponsible breeding.
  • It’s not me, it’s you:  Malicious rescuers start terrible rumors about us on Facebook, causing the public to doubt the good work we do.  This leads to a low adoption rate and decreased donations which hurts the animals.

Here’s why your shelter is actually failing:  Your shelter director sucks.

The truth:

  • Pet overpopulation:  It’s a myth.  There are enough homes for all the shelter pets in this country.  Check the math.
  • It’s not you, it’s me:  Internet rumors don’t kill pets, shelter directors who lack vision and a commitment to lifesaving do.  Your shelter director is either lying about why the shelter kills animals or is willfully ignorant of the truth and incapable of accepting responsibility.  In either case, replacement is needed – the sooner, the better.

16 thoughts on “Why Your Shelter is Failing

  1. What fun, I get to be the first to dive in. Yes, they suck. But the reason they suck is because they have all bought into the secrecy of the industry.

    I have written what I think is a wonderful, kind message of support to people who work in shelters and have the worst job of all – looking into the eyes of a small creature as the life flows out of them.

    What I wrote supports them, not what they do, but the pain they go through in this flawed system. I even included a soft, gentle video from Youtube which is basically a personal interview with a euthanasia tech and office manager from a large shelter in Las Vegas. I bet you can’t watch it without tears. It’s really a poignant look at the subject from their perspective. (Link = http://www.arc-na.org/a-message-of-support)

    Here’s the kicker: Joanie Spina, the woman who produced this quality video, has now been barred from the shelter as a result of her effort. Instead of embracing this as a way of showing the community what they are “forced” to do, the shelter director slams the door once again.

    If killing is our fault, why do shelter directors hide it away? They blame us but never share what they have to do. That sounds like the age-old double-talk from women = well, if you don’t know why I’m angry then you never will! (Then they storm out of the room sobbing).

    Shelter directors, share your ugly secret and let the public in. Then we can see what we’re causing. Most of us think you guys just rehome our animals when we drop them off on you.

    Who’s fault, really, is the killing of millions of family companions every year?

  2. Oh MY! Glad you got to be first Thomas Cole (it was your turn…) I am thrilled to be included at all.

    I haven’t had much dealings with the current manager at Animal Control. But I got told each and every one of those “reasons” by the previous fellow…right before I was banned! (Except I was allowed to come and volunteer on site, I just couldn’t be trusted with Borough property–the animals–at my home.) Actually, the designated “reason” was that I had a conflict of interest! (Apparently caring about the animals goes against borough policy.)

    I stopped donating to The Shelter Fund because I stopped believing in the system. There are those who are willing to work within the system to enact change, but I am not one of them. I find I can “rescue” all the animals I want/need (plus many dozen more!) without playing with Animal Control.

    However, I firmly believe that until we can ALL work better together, we will never provide the safe haven that homeless creatures need. I take it one day at a time, and one dog at a time. Just for Today, we’re coping. (Although Animal Control volunteers recently sent a message to the various email lists to warn people NOT to bring their unwanted animals in as the facility was full…but they invited people to come adopt before they started killing the excess. BTW, it’s minus 40(F)outside here at my house this morning.)

      1. I live in Two Rivers, Alaska…and this morning the temp is hovering pretty dang close to minus 50 degrees F.
        This is the dog mushing capitol of the world. There are more dogs living in my neighborhood than people. Kennels of more than 100 dogs are common, although kennels of 30 – 50 are even more common. I have 22 dogs living outside, nine in my house, and three in my heated garage. This includes the five I’m currently boarding, but not the other two boarders who are coming before the holiday.
        Most of my dogs are old (10+) this cold is really hard on them. I go through a LOT of food just keeping their systems fueled to survive. Although the five puppies are fat and sassy.
        Animal Control has a heated after-hours drop-off room with locking cages. There’s also an outdoor drop box for dead bodies.
        At these temps, if somebody isn’t paying attention, dogs die. (Well, okay, people do too…and there has been some of that happening in the past as well.)
        Locals consider the weather in Alaska a natural equalizer. “Kills the stupid ones.” Owner requested euthanasia goes up, as does the number of frozen bodies left in the outdoor drop box for disposal. Although my beloved lead dog is frozen out on the back porch. We’ll bury her in the spring here at home. I had her euthanized last week. She was 14 years old and suffering.

  3. I’d like to put that phrase on billboards around town here, modified just a tad: “Animals die in your shelter because your shelter director sucks” or “Animals die in our shelter because the shelter director is lazy.” I’d take either one and both are true.

    I’m working on a way to get folks other than/in addition to me (since I have already made my opinion clear) to write to the leadership here to try to get the folks holding the checkbook to realize 1) it makes no sense to spend 98%+ of a 1.6 million dollar budget on personnel, vehicles and fuel while spending less than 30k a year on animal care and 2) saving lives really does not cost more money. I’m also hoping to persuade someone to invite those same leaders to the shelter to witness the death of healthy animals in action. The shelter vet is having a kill conference next month (actually called a Euthanasia Seminar) at which she’ll show others how end life as efficiently as she does. Perhaps the mayor and her boss can attend that little gathering.

    If and when the day comes when John and Jane Q. Public know how their tax dollars are being spend and understand that overpopulation truly is a myth, perhaps they’ll speak out and demand change. The death is not being hidden, per se. People assume that the shelter is what the name implies and do not know it is a disposal facility.

  4. While I can completely relate to everyone’s frustration and anger of how animal shelters kill too many animals….I worked for one and have held countless number of animals in my arms as they took their last breath. No, I was not a kennel technician. I worked in media. But I wanted to show these animals that they were loved. I didn’t agree and knew not all of those animals had to lose their lives. But there were times when there was absolutely no room at the shelter when ten more dogs were coming in. I understand all sides. Shelters need to be held accountable. So much does go on behind closed doors without the public knowing the real truth about animal shelters.

    But we also can’t forget that owners/guardians of pets need and MUST take responsibility for their pets. Pets are not disposable and should not be dumped off at a shelter like trash. I’ve heard all of the inexcusable “excuses” for getting rid of a pet. I do understand the economy and the effects it is having on people with pets.

    Instead of pointing fingers, we need intelligent, compassionate people in leadership roles to create solutions to this ever-increasing problem.

    I’m tired of egos and the wrong people in charge of shelters. They need to go. Trust me, I’ve seen alot.

    Let’s work on a solution to help the animals.

    1. Shelter staff constantly blame the public for throwing pets away like “trash” while they themselves LITERALLY kill, bag and throw out dogs and cats by the hundreds. What kind of message does this send to the community about the disposability of their pets? Aren’t kill shelters in a sense enabling the throw-away culture they claim to despise? If you want to adopt a dog at my local pound, it’s going to cost you a couple of visits to the place, some time spent filling out paperwork and about $100. But if you want to get rid of your “problem dog” (whose only real problem is you don’t want him/her anymore),then it doesn’t cost you a dime. Drive up, dump your dog–problem solved. There’s something very wrong with this system!

      1. wow jeanne, thank you!! I will never again let someone complain about owners dumping their dogs without mentioning the irony of that! I may even cut and paste and of course give you credit.

  5. The idea of MSN is based upon faulty logic any way. Yes, cutting the reproductive organs out of any living female being will reduce that being’s risk of developing cancer but I don’t hear anyone promoting hysterectomies among preschoolers. Now is that any way to treat family?

  6. Please help me to understand, because I’ve never heard such unkind things said about shelter directors. What are the directors to do when they are filled to capacity and adoptions are not as frequent as quantity of animals left at the site? I would love to share this info with out shelter and see how they might become a no-kill shelter. It is such a waste, the large numbers that are being euthanized simply because they have to clear more room. I am very serious in that I’d like to know what they can do to save every life.

    1. Katie, Would your shelter director be open to receiving and reading a copy of Nathan Winograd’s book “Redemption”? That would be an ideal starting place.

      1. I’m not familiar with that book, but will look for it. I have long wished they could change to a no-kill, however, even though they continue to build, there are just more animals coming in than they are placing. I’ll look for that book. I hope you are saying that it makes suggestions for more successful placement.

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