From an editorial in a Memphis newspaper:
As long as the city is plagued with thousands of irresponsible pet owners — and we’re talking mainly about dog owners — who don’t get their animals spayed or neutered, who let them run loose or abandon them in the streets when the owners decide they don’t want the dogs anymore, the shelter will have no choice but to euthanize animals.
I used to think this too. I had heard this “too many pets, not enough homes” mantra from every animal group everywhere, ever. And although I am a lifelong Questioner of Stuff (you can verify this with my Mom), I believed that this was true because obviously, no animal shelter in America would kill pets needlessly. There just had to be no alternatives. We as a nation were at the most desperate of last resorts in our shelter system and I didn’t know how to fix it.
I thought we could each help a little bit by doing things like neutering our pets, educating our pet owning friends and co-workers about the benefits of neutering, and rescuing a pet from a shelter here and there. But I knew this was a drop in the bucket and there could never be enough drops. Too many irresponsible, uncaring pet owners and too many pets in need. I tried to put shelter killing out of my mind because there was nothing I could do about it and I thought, there was nothing anyone could do about it. It was just one of those horrible realities like childhood cancer or war.
But then I started reading some material on the internet by and about Nathan Winograd and a book he had written called Redemption. This is one of the first articles I remember reading and it’s by my friend Christie Keith:
Winograd’s argument is simply this: Based on data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, and the latest census, there are more than enough homes for every dog and cat being killed in shelters every year.
Oh, what? I’m listening.
“When I argue that pet overpopulation is a myth, I’m not saying that we can all go home,” [Winograd] said. “And I’m not saying that there aren’t certain people who are irresponsible with their animals. And I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of animals entering shelters. Again, I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be better if there were fewer of them being impounded. But it does mean that the problem is not insurmountable and it does mean that we can do something short of killing for all savable animals today.”
We can do something. Hello hope.
After reading Redemption and looking at the many successful no kill communities throughout the U.S., I changed my belief from “Shelters have no choice but to kill pets” to “Killing is a choice shelters can make regarding their pets but so is saving. I’m for saving.”
After a few false starts, I started writing the YesBiscuit! blog in 2008. At the end of this week, I’ll be heading to Washington D.C. to attend the No Kill Conference. Together with Brent Toellner of KC Dog Blog, I’ll be talking about advocacy blogging. (We’re giving the presentation twice – once on Saturday and again on Sunday.) I’m looking forward to attending as many other presentations as I can since there are so many good ones on the schedule. I hope to meet some of you there.