Dear Dog Pounds, It’s Not ‘Euthanasia’ and You Aren’t Being ‘Forced’ to Do It

Euthanasia is a kindness we are able to offer medically hopeless pets so that they do not have to suffer at the end of their lives.  It is an act of love, an attempt to offer relief and dignity to a noble companion.  When so-called shelters end the lives of healthy pets or those with treatable conditions such as coughs, colds or bad teeth, that is not euthanasia – it’s killing.  It is not an act of love but rather one of violence.  Killing healthy/treatable pets is completely unacceptable.  It is not what most Americans believe their shelters should be doing.  And as the math proves, it’s entirely unnecessary since there are enough homes for every shelter pet in the country.

If killing shelter pets is ethically objectionable and the majority of us don’t want shelters doing it and it can’t be justified by saying there are “too many pets, not enough homes” – why are some shelters claiming they are “forced” to kill pets?

Let’s make this simple:

  • We are the taxpayers who pay your salary and we don’t want you to kill pets.
  • There are many more people looking to add a pet to their homes than there are pets in shelters.
  • It may some some hustle and hard work, but you can place every healthy/treatable pet in your care with an adopter, foster or rescue group.

The Marion Co pound in Ohio put up a Facebook page to list their pets.  This is good.  However, this seems to be all they are willing to do in order to avoid killing.  This is not good.  From a news piece titled Dog Pound Forced to Euthanize:

The Marion dog pound has reached its maximum capacity, and soon animals will have to be put down if they do not get adopted.

“Our main kennels number is 20, and we started this morning at 23,” Marion County Deputy Ryan Zempter said.

The Marion County Dog Pound is trying new approaches to get adoption numbers up.

The dog pound has created its own Facebook page.


The Marion dog pound can only speculate, and hope for a change.

“I guess just keep our fingers crossed  and hope we can get some out the door before the next one comes in,” [Marion County Deputy Ryan] Zempter said.

Cross our fingers and hope for a change?  Jiminy H. Criminy!  We started a Facebook page but we have 3 dogs too many so we’re going to have to start killing.  Because obviously we couldn’t ask a dog to share a space with another dog in order to save his life.  We couldn’t have offsite adoption events on weekends or offer a Valentine’s Day adoption promotion.  Because Facebook page!

I’m not seeing the forcing.  When does the forcing start?

To reiterate:  Ending the lives of healthy/treatable pets is not “euthanasia” – it’s killing.  We don’t want you to kill and there is no need to kill.  Therefore, you are not being forced to kill pets.  It’s the opposite, actually.  You are being forced to save pets, if you’re being honest.  But since we can’t count on pet killers to tell the truth, we need to put laws into place to protect shelter pets.  This is why we need CAPA.

19 thoughts on “Dear Dog Pounds, It’s Not ‘Euthanasia’ and You Aren’t Being ‘Forced’ to Do It

  1. I drove out there today to potnetially pull a dog. They were no longer in crisis mode, the community stepped up. Unfortunately it is a very small facility and they do have to take in all the dogs that comethrough their doors. They have 3 of the pits that were pulled from a home yesterday after one of the dogs attacked the officer serving a warrant. As you can imagine, none of the dogs that came out of that home are the friendliest around and they are taking up three cage spaces. There are a couple of other dogs there who have killed other dogs, so sharing space isn’t an option. This is one of the few shelters in the area that is pit friendly what so ever and nearly half of their cage space is filled with pit bulls. At least this shelter isn’t killing all the pits as they walk in the door. I say kudos to the shelter for reaching out to the public, that is much more than so many other shelters do.

    If you want to complain about a facility, lets take a look at franklin county shelter. A 19.2 million dollar shelter which can house up to 400 dogs. On average they have 30-50 available for adoption at any given time. Lots of cage space available yet the commissioners wont allow pits on the adoption floor nor will they allow dogs to be brought in from some of the rural shelters. It’s a damn shame

    1. I refuse to set the bar at “not killing Pits as they walk in the door”. Sorry. Not every dog will be a good candidate for sharing a cage – that’s true in any pound. And it’s just as true that there will be some dogs in every pound who are good candidates for it. If it means the difference between life and death, I tend toward life.

      I appreciate that other shelters are also needlessly killing pets but on a larger scale. But in this post, I’m standing for the 23 dogs at the Marion pound.

      1. I guess when you live in Ohio and have been rescuing pits for years, “not killing pits as they walk in the door” looks pretty darn good considering the massacres we have been dealing with.

      2. Oh I certainly understand how rescuers can come to view things based upon their heartbreaking experiences. My point is to (hopefully) provoke thought in a big picture kind of way.

      3. I just don’t want to see the new person at Marion Pound get discouraged and feel their efforts are being attacked. He is the best thing that has happened at Marion County Pound in quite some time. This person IS trying to make a positive change and should be getting as much support as possible. They are in the process of trying to get the county to allow volunteers and working with the County Prosecutor to get a fostering program up and running. They are heading in the right direction and need a helping hand to get there. This person is working very hard to save these animals, now they just need to get the county officials on board.

      4. If all he gets is support and all he hears is what a great job he’s doing from the rescuers at the pound, how do you expect he will come to understand he is not doing nearly enough and that killing healthy/treatable pets is unnecessary and wrong? Rescuers can not expect growth and change unless they are willing to challenge the status quo.

      5. Nor can you expect great change if they are getting smacked down while in the midst of working for change. The guy has been in his position for 3 weeks or so and in that time has made HUGE strides. For the first time, Marion County is no longer gassing dogs. He is working on a foster program, they are now marketing dogs through facebook, they are now reaching out to the public. All this in 3 weeks, and this is coming from a person who wasn’t and didn’t want to be entrenched in animal issues. Let’s see what more he can do, because with the direction he has been taking the pound, I would sure hate to lose him and see someone from the old regime step back in. I think it is pretty clear from his actions that his poor choice of wording does not reflect his mindset

      6. If that’s clear to you based upon the personal knowledge you have outside of this article, I’m sure you are right. I don’t have that personal knowledge and I’m glad to hear he has made great changes in 3 weeks. What I see in the article is the same old, same old that I hear regularly from shelter directors. It saddens me every time I hear it, whether it’s from someone entrenched in a job of 25 years or someone who’s brand new to the work. It also motivates me to speak out, as I did here. There is no acceptable reason to kill friendly pets and no one is forcing shelters to kill them.

  2. “Hoping for change” doesn’t make change happen. WORKING for change makes change happen.

    Damn, people, get some ideas going, have a “sale”, have an adoption party, whatever it takes. Dogs shouldn’t have to die for your lack of imagination.

  3. I agree with you Yesbiscuit. I think the news release was a bumbled attempt at getting help to keep from killing. The previous Marion County Dog Warden resigned Jan 12th and it’s my hunch that this new one is trying to change things for the better. I don’t like the whole “save this dog or we’re going to have to kill it” approach but at least they are doing more than what was done by the previous warden…

    Franklin County has no qualms about killing pit bulls. I remember one story where a residence was raided or inspected and a mother pit with puppies was discovered. They were taken to Franklin County. Franklin County was ready and willing to kill them all if no owner came forward, even though the puppies were very young. After public outcry they were willing to only let the puppies go to a rescue group (thereby sealing their fate: at such a young age it was likely that not all of them would survive) which added more fuel to the public outcry fire…. They also say in their volunteer training meetings that “all dogs are held until adopted” which is a blatant lie, unless a scientific breakthrough has proven that pitbulls are not dogs? As for the mother pitbull and her puppies, the owners were running a backyard breeding operation but Franklin County still let them have the mother and puppies back.

    1. I’m ashamed to hear all of this, as I grew up in Franklin County… I’m a huge pit-bull advocate, and I’m constantly trying to get my friends to join in. I’ll put the word out with an extra vengeance now.

  4. Well done! Not only is the murder of healthy animals NOT “euthanasia”… any facility that does this is NOT a “shelter”. At best, it’s a dog pound (literally an impound lot, except it destroys the property it impounds) and at worst, it’s an abattoir.
    Changing the language is just a first step, but a good one.

  5. Okay, maybe I’m having a negative day…but this line got to me:
    “When so-called shelters end the lives of healthy pets or those with treatable conditions such as coughs, colds or bad teeth, that is not euthanasia – it’s killing.”

    You’re right. It is killing. But I groomed a 20 year old toy poodle for a gal for free as a Christmas gift ..and when I looked in the dog’s mouth, there was a black tooth that was soft and pushable nestled in beet red gums. The dog was blind, and probably deaf too. I stopped grooming immediately. (To me, grooming is 75% cosmetic, and I was horrified to see how much this dog was suffering.) I said to myself, this dog needs MEDICAL help…but the dog was owned by a young gal who was broke. I’d brow-beat her into taking the dog in for a dental a few years before, and the dog had most of the teeth in his mouth removed for about double my grooming charge. (I met her at the vets office and groomed the dog for free afterwards while he was sleeping off his meds.)

    Anyway, I took the dog to my vet. Who understood immediately why I was there and so distressed. She fit me in between and around her regular rehab appointments, and pulled the four remaining teeth in this dog’s mouth. She sent me away with liquid antibiotics. I’d explained that I had offered to groom the dog as a Christmas gift (I’m broke too) and my vet didn’t charge me—or the owner—a dime. I groomed the dog a bit, and then took it home. The owner wasn’t there—she doesn’t live with her dog. Her sister copped an attitude and asked what right I had to take the dog to a vet! (I suspect the sister shared this attitude with the owner, who called me several days later to complain!) I fired myself. I’ve no idea if anybody gave that dog the antibiotics. Although I did ask the owner if the dog was still alive. I know for a fact that he was happier/healthier AFTER my *grooming* than he had been before.

    BUT, what are Animal Control facilities supposed to do with dogs that have been hit by cars, or that have horrid teeth? WHO pays for fixing up these animals? I got to the space with that poodle where I thought: *I need to either fix this, or recommend they kill this dog.* Caution: It takes me WAY longer to get to that space than a lot of other people. There are those who live/work in the industry that feel they need/have to make these life and death decisions on a daily basis. It sucks. They are Animal Control, and they are assigned, by law, the responsibility to make this decision on behalf of animals that are relinquished or brought in as strays.

    Yes, they are supposed to try and find somebody else to be the legal representative for the animal—an owner or a rescue. And yes, our local animal control kills a lot of sneezing cats. And every family I know who has had a dog quarantined at Animal Control has had it come home sneezing, and often times had every other dog in their household go through the same *bug.*

    I don’t have the answers. Hell, I’m not even sure I understand the questions anymore. I generally favor life over death, and I think a compassionate director and supportive staff can increase the likelihood of life for homeless animals in our community. But there comes a time when the buck must stop.

    I understand that some people have a hard time choosing to euthanize. In our community, many people take their animals to animal control and they sign their pet over for adoption so they can go home thinking *fluffy will find a new, happy home.* Staff often makes a different evaluation and the animal is killed.

    Maybe it’s old. Maybe it’s got bad teeth. Maybe it’s a cat who doesn’t use the litter box (often a medical issue) maybe its a sled dog that was too slow. Granted, Animal Control could do a better job of networking and finding and using community resources.

    But part (a really BIG part) of their legal responsibility, is choosing when to kill an animal. CAPA would mean we could legally second guess them, and I think it’s a good idea! But what happens when area mushers figure out that Animal Control can’t kill their culls and they start dumping even MORE dogs! I guess we can wait until then to worry about it, but I really don’t have room for any more here.

  6. i live in marion and was glad to hear about the policy changes regarding Pitbulls up until 3 wks ago if an owner did not reclaim his Pitbulls it was gassed to death. Now policy says a Pitbull Rescue may adopt a Pitbull from our Pound. As I am glad for the change I still dont understand why anyone that can provide proof of insurance is not able to adopt a Pitbulll since this is all the that the law requires in our county.
    I was also unaware that the gassing( if true ) has stopped .
    I have also heard that they use community service people to help at the dog pound and are working on a foster program as well.
    The Humane society is right next door and often people think that when they take their dog or cat their that they wont be put down. They equivalate humane society and no kill

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