19 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Every once in a while I would like to follow the comments of a thread by subscribing to it but don’t have anything to add to the actual discussion. It would be nice to be able to subscribe without having to post first.


  2. Something I’ve been thinking about and just wanted to put it out there to see what you all say.

    I met a veterinarian at an open house who was talking about the difference between private practice and his new position with natural resources. He said that it’s a very different perspective (and in many ways much easier) to have a “herd mentality” rather than dealing with individual animals. I wonder if this has any bearing on those who sometimes run our animal “shelters”. They don’t see the animals as individuals, but as statistics and part of a large group, which means they don’t get attached emotionally. If this “herd mentality” has something to do with whether to kill vs treat animals in “shelters” then maybe we have to look at the attitudes of those who are in positions of authority.

    The vet and I were discussing the deer herds in my state particularly and he alluded to the fact that he looked at over population and that culling was a way to deal with that population problem. I see the individual deer (either alive in nature or the victims of the road).

    Just thinking out loud here. Wonder if this attitude has anything to do with companion animals.

    1. School teachers are partially trained to have a *herd mentality* about their students! They have quotas and curves and averages and *no child left behind* (Although they rarely give a name/face to THAT child!)

      I have a herd mentality towards my pack of foster dogs. I’d love to save ten more, but if I try, the 14 that I already have may suffer. (Not to mention the ten or so that are mine and are not fosters!)

      Heck. Politicians have a *herd mentality* about voters! Why do you think we waste so much money on polls and telemarketers? It matters. You’ll never get everybody to like you. You’ll never 100% compliance, and, as we say in rescue, you can’t save them all!

      But the trick to finding homes for critters is to find ONE person to be willing to get to know and care for ONE creature.

      This is why politicians shake hands and kiss babies. And why PETA gets porn stars to go naked rather than wear fur.

    2. Shelter Medicine is actually practiced this way- it’s called Population Medicine- when you have to make decisions based on the health of the group instead of the individual.
      This is why some shelters opt to euthanize a dog with parvo (etc) so as to prevent it to spreading to the rest of the healthy population.
      The UC Davis Shelter Medicine Program is the foremost authority of Shelter Medicine. Check them out- i think it’s pretty interesting

  3. Herd mentality. Interesting. I think it depends on the shelter, who runs it and its mission. I know all my dogs very personally – the rescue pack lives in my home with my own small pack – all are treated the same. I am part of a larger no-kill sanctuary; it houses over 250 cats and 15 dogs. Alice, the director and my friend, knows every cat & dog and their stories, remembering them for years! She is amazing. But these animals are not in runs with staff at the front and other staff in the back. I wonder if the structure of a shelter/rescue makes a difference, too.
    Deer are so over-populated, I understand your friend’s thought of culling, though my sister wouldn’t :). We have removed their predators and left them to the roads, as you note :(. I love watching deer – saw a doe and late fawn the other day enjoying a snack in a field off the road. Very good question – I wonder what Temple Grandin would or does think.

    1. It is interesting – and I agree that hearing what Temple Grandin thinks would be fascinating.

      I also was thinking about a worker at the local humane society who would (in days past – I hope) wander through the cattery picking certain cats to pull to be killed. Much of the time it was – “oh, we have so many other black and white cats . . . or just eeny, meeny, miny mo.” There seemed to be no concern for individual cats or their “stories”!

      I’m sure that the administrators of the facilities make a huge impact based on their attitudes and perceptions.

      As far as the deer herds, I hate seeing them killed on the roads, but I also hate the thought of irresponsible hunters killing (or wounding and then leaving them to die a slow, agonizing death) just for the sake of “let’s go kill something today”. Seems as if ethics and morals have a place here, too.

      That also impacts the decisions to spend x amount of money to either treat individual animals for medical or behavioral issues or kill those to help the “greater numbers”. This hits close to home because my daughter has a beautiful and most amazing 9 year old cat who was dropped off at the humane society (with his littermate) when his people moved and didn’t take them. He had been badly burned with spilled grease 2 years ago and the people didn’t have the money to treat him. Hence, he was in a lot of pain and had surgery to clean out his wounds and to allow him to heal. He still has open sores on his back end and his tail is badly scarred. He will now have more surgery to close the wounds or do skin grafts and his tail will likely be amputated. A lot of people simply roll their eyes because of treating just one cat – and think of how many others could be “saved” with that money. However, I love this one cat and it means everything to him to be able to be treated and go on to have a wonderful, healthy life. Does he deserve to die so others can live?

      Just doing a lot of thinking about this whole idea.

      1. The riches of the kings all end up in wills. You can’t take money with you when you die. I would rather spend mine helping an animal recover from a medical problem then make intrest in the bank. It’s not his fault he got hurt/sick and he deserves to get better. I never fault people for spending large sums on vet bills and I don’t look down on the person who decides in the end euthanasia is kinder, even if that decision is made partly based on cost. So long as you can sleep at night with your decision. Cheap people who abandon or kill there pet rather then spend a little on vet bills I do however despise.

        As for deer. Their population is to big. People have gotten used to instant gratification. Sitting and waiting for a deer must mean the population is declining. So coyotes have been culled cause they kill fauns (a faun killed by a coyote is sick), other predators have been killed too. All so hunters can get deer without the sitting and waiting. But the population is now to big. They have grazed all the alpine region bare and are now forced to move lower closer to people. The big predators then follow the deer causing both deer and predators to come into conflict with people. I believe a lot of hunters are responsible, it’s the lazy ones that have caused the problem. They want hunting to be easy so they helped the population expand to unsustainable levels. Now they are in town looking for food, if that source runs out they’ll start starving till the population is manageable again.

      2. Do you really know hunters that hunt just for sport and don’t eat what they kill?
        Where i live everyone i know that hunts does so out of respect and love for our wilderness and their freezers are full of venison.
        Without hunting the deer population would expand beyond nature’s capacity to cope- they would then starve (or it would open them up to disease such as CWD, which is a threat to people if tainted meat is consumed).
        Occassionally in forested suburb areas they have to cull herds to keep them manageable sizes. This is done outside of hunting season by bow (for homeowner safety). The meat is then donated to homeless shelters.
        So… i guess i was just suprised to hear that hunters elsewhere are just ‘in it for the kill’…?

      3. @Anne,
        Yes, we have people who go out hunting just for the ‘bragging’ rights of killing something. Every year there are reports of deer who are injured and never tracked. I hope they are in the minority, but they are out there. We also have “ranches” where the trophy hunters go to shoot animals that have been raised and are confined there. They are “guaranteed” a kill.

        I will also check out the UC Davis information. I guess I would be a lousy one to deal with these issues, because they are all individuals to me . . . even the critters who come to my backyard for food and water.

      4. My Dad was raised in the bush. In a logging camp. They hunted their own food, I wasn’t raised on it but I grew up knowing Dad and Grandpa were hunters. I have my PAL and my boyfriend has his and is hoping to get his CORE, not for trophy but for food. Most men I know hunt not to brag bit as a means to provide for their families. It makes me sad to think about the individual and details but it’s food and a well placed bullet is better than starving to death because there to many deer.

  4. Forgot to mention that my daughter is simply fostering this cat until he is through all his surgeries and ready for his new home. (The hs has a special fund set up for just such instances . . .)

  5. Hello everyone:
    I am having trouble accessing my website host BUT please consider a paypal donation to help us get Ranger, the deranged Malinois pulled at the last minute from MAS, neutered. We really are on hard times at the moment, vicitims of the economy. It would REALLY be helpful, even if you can only donate a little. You can donate through paypal at: welcomehomesanctuaryinc.weebly.com. Thanks – please be as generous as you can. Just like the sanctuary mentioned above, our animals do not live in kennels, they live as our family, and I even eschew sleeping the same bedroom as my hubby so I can stay with the dogs at night in case anyone needs anything. I can tell you every dog and cat’s story, I can identify their individual poo and pee (I kid you NOT!) and by their barks. We could really use the help. Thanks. Blessings.

  6. Things in Austin, while much better than Memphis, still need work. Please follow this new blog about continual efforts in Austin! http://www.shelterreform.com/austinblog/

    Also, check out the recent incident yesterday, where Austin Shelter Director tried to transfer animals to a high kill shelter in Houston and was STOPPED by the Austin public! http://www.facebook.com/notes/town-lake-animal-center/memo-from-chief-abigail-smith-regarding-our-work-with-the-houston-spca-yesterday/10150785674330357

  7. I know this thread has been open a few days. Wah, wah, wah. I had a run in with an SQKD today. (Status Quo KoolAid Drinker). I was accused of being too far removed from real rescue to understand that pet overpopulation is alive and well and that it is the public’s fault. I was told that people keep surrendering animals in spite of being offered alternatives and access to food banks. I was told no kill would never work in my region or any other region long term. I was told that even if more people adopted and reduced breeder’s salaries here, it would never help.

    It hurt my heart. Yeah, so I do a lot of keyboarding. I get that. I keep my web site going and do some PSAs and slide shows for nonprofits to help myself sleep at night. Perhaps I’m being too hard on rescuers when I say this: as long as you are singularly focused on X dog or Y cat, and refuse to educate yourself on the bigger picture, you are forever doomed to keep repeating that same save over and over and over again as part of a self-perpetuating cycle. Your same starfish are gonna keep washing up on that same strand of beach in your head.

    Thank goodness of Dayna Kennedy at UPAWs and for Valerie Hayes and for Mike Fry and for Bonney Brown. I see them as the reality we are capable of as I sit in a sea of KoolAid Drinkers who blame everyone but the DVM running the shelter and who holds the bottle of Fatal Plus.

    1. It galls me to no end when people like this point out that there are indeed pet owners who are hopelessly irresponsible, uncaring and just plain bad. Well no kidding. There are PARENTS who fit that description. And gun owners. And drivers. etc. Obviously these are the minority, not the majority. The point being that pets are the only group where we are expected to kill the victims as a “solution” to the problem of a minority of uncaring people. And when some of us protest, we’re called crazy and told we are in denial. It makes me want to whip out the Chewbacca Defense!

      1. It’s such a maddeningly defeatist approach, too: ‘there are irresponsible pet owners everywhere, so it’s useless for us to try and do better.’ It sets the bar at about ground-level. Mind, I do think that might ultimately be the point; so long as you can convince enough people that the status quo is as good as it gets, the pressure is off, and your position is likely to be safe.

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