When taxpayer funded shelters kill pets because those pets are their property and the shelter can dispose of them as they see fit, what kind of an example does it set for the community? What legal hypocrisy is exposed?
In April 2011, William Richerson of Oneida Co, NY took the family pet, a Jack Russell Terrier named Sam, down to the basement and shot him to death:
[Mr. Richerson] told a judge in court this week that he didn’t see anything wrong with killing the family dog […] because it was his dog, prosecutors said.
He pled guilty this month to two felonies – aggravated animal cruelty and a weapons charge – and is scheduled for sentencing in July.
There is no information that links this heinous crime to kill shelter practices. I am simply drawing the parallel between the prosecutable act of killing a dog because he is property with the publicly sanctioned act of killing shelter pets because they are property. Is it time to consider leveling the playing field for the protection of all pets? Should the law apply equally to individuals and public shelters alike?
In the case of individual owners, society accepts the euthanasia of a pet who is medically hopeless and suffering or a dog who has been deemed vicious. In fact, we grieve with those who share with us the sad news of euthanizing a beloved pet. But the killing of a pet simply because the animal is the property of the owner? We condemn that act and, when the law allows, prosecute it as a crime.
When a municipal shelter kills pets simply because they are property, I consider that a crime. The law does not agree with me and society has been fooled into accepting the killing as a necessary reality. That however, is a lie. There are enough homes for every shelter pet in America. So why should the laws of a humane society allow for pets to be killed by shelters just because they are the shelter’s property? And to make the killing even more egregious, some shelters store their pets behind closed doors, making no attempt to adopt them out or even to let the public know they are there. After the required hold period expires, the shelter then kills the pets – because they can.
This is a grey issue when you consider the potential exceptions and special circumstances that could crop up in any shelter or even an individual owner’s situation. But in broad terms, what are your thoughts about the laws applying to the killing of pets simply because they are property – should they be completely different for owners and shelters? Or should the two parties be bound by laws more similar in nature – laws which are representative of our society’s attitude toward pets?
Rescue Five-0 is a site aimed at helping people to initiate action regarding local legal protections for shelter pets similar in nature to those afforded other pets.