Shelter Pet Advocates are the Protesters of Violence, Not the Offenders

Details are sketchy but it sounds as if a family may have surrendered a dog to the Surry Co pound in NC, found out the staff killed the dog, and expressed their outrage during a heated phone call to the pound.  A 15 year old boy got on the line at some point and threatened the staff with violence.

Shelter staff immediately went into lockdown as a precautionary measure and were pulled from the building for nearly three hours, according to Thomas Williams, spokesman for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees county shelter operations.

While many of us can surely sympathize with the feelings of despair and horror that must accompany a family learning that the place responsible for sheltering pets is killing them instead, it’s important to refrain from violence – and a threat of violence is itself violent – even in the most trying circumstances.

I don’t expect every teenage boy to be able to control himself when he’s terribly upset and obviously this one didn’t.  But I do expect all adult animal advocates to conduct themselves professionally.  This is why I always ask people to keep all their comments to shelter staff, elected officials and others respectful and polite.

We undermine our own cause when we lose our cool.  It is far more effective to send a thoughtful paragraph than it is to spew pages of curse words and all caps.  Bear in mind that we are protesting the violence that shelters do in the form of neglect, abuse and killing.  We must remain non-violent in our words and deeds.

It is perfectly understandable to feel outraged and angry over shelter pet abuse.  If you need to write an awful letter in order to vent your frustrations, make yourself the recipient and then trash it when finished.  Hit a punching bag, scream into a pillow, weed your yard by hand – do whatever helps.  But when you sit down to call or write those who need to be held accountable for the abuse and killing of shelter pets, do it thoughtfully and respectfully.  We can condemn the violence at shelters in the strongest possible terms without resorting to violence ourselves.


19 thoughts on “Shelter Pet Advocates are the Protesters of Violence, Not the Offenders

  1. While I agree with you completely, there’s something to be said for the occasional emotional outburst. In this instance, it apparently garnered an over-reaction from the shelter staff (Guilty consciences, anyone? Perhaps in their heart of hearts they believe they deserve to be punished?) That over-reaction will prompt the media and MORE people will learn that “shelters” don’t shelter pets, they kill them. Otherwise, yes, polite is certainly more useful.

    1. It’s possible I *may* have had an emotional outburst once or twice… heh. But I remain vigilant when acting as a voice for pets.

  2. No, the boy should not have threatened, however neither should the “shelter” (a word used too loosely, for they are nothing more than legalized KILLERS under the guise of governmental rights) have felt so threatened by a mere child. Why were they feeling threatened? The answer is staring us in the face! The “shelter” knew they were in the wrong, knew they did not give this animal a fair chance to be adopted. So I think such needs to be addressed and not feel the young boy was in the wrong, for he also can see the wrong in “shelters” & was expressing what should be done to alleviate such CRIMES OF SHELTERS. Sorry, he expressed so vividly, and he probably was also aggravated, as well, with his parents for giving the dog to this Pound to begin without a say of his own. I know I would have been, for what we never acknowledge all too often, “children express truths that adults hide!”

    No matter how this is spiced up with flavoring, the kid was expressing what we all feel. And why we sit here blogging, animals are being killed by the thousands needlessly and without justification…

    1. “Expressing what we all feel”, when it is a threat of violence, is wrong. Feel free to stop “sitting here blogging” a n y t i m e.

      1. So then do you not feel that the so-called shelter was wrong to put this dog to death? I think you feel as we all do and that it is high time it is voiced and expressed, perhaps not in violent terms or vile terms, but strongly that we must stop euthanasia entirely unless an animal is terminally unsavable. And that as much as possible be done to bring this about, writing to those in political office & so on… So-called shelters are not trying to adopt out animals readily, as a matter of fact they could care less who adopts any animal since no “shelter” is going to do follow-up visits to the home of the now adopted dog/cat(s).

        Rememer this was a mere child (& at 15 we are still mere children &, in this day & age, all teens are hostile with the world it sometimes appears. No, this is not okay, but look at the bleak world they face compared to when you or I grew up when the future was an anticipated adventure to look forward to) who blasted threats not an adult. The boy was obviously upset with good reason, but it was also the so-called shelter who acted in such a, in my opinion, guilty manner… It is more than obvious they knew they were in the wrong by putting to immediate death this animal they deemed to feel not wanted by anyone else, is my opinion… How many times have this so-called shelter been wrong where other animals are concerned, or any other killing facility for that matter?

        I am not blogging to placate anyone’s views, I am expressing my own as by Freedom of Speech is allowed, but foremost I am, as I have always done, been on the side of the voiceless animals & hope to speak for them as I have always done also.
        I voice on Facebook, on Sanctuary sites, in person and do rescue privately as I can and have done so for as many years of my life I could. I am going on 67 years old and always will believe that truth lies with animals for though they cannot speak they can communicate the absolute truth more than any human.

        And as far as violence is concerned, I am not a violent person. However violence in war is what, over centuries, gave us Freedom from Oppression if one is familiar with History… Biscuit, this is a war, a War for the Rights of Animals, who basically have none… And we all tend to vent for what we believe in, but more in the case of Animal Rights needs to be secured than just saying so. This war, unfortunately, is still in its infancy… I would like to do what I can in my short-left lifetime to bring success for the animals, and do hope you and everyone who believes will, too.

      2. I believe Ms. McIntyre is advocating violence. I suggest she be removed lest her comments reflect on this blog.
        “…violence in war is what, over centuries, gave us Freedom from Oppression if one is familiar with History… Biscuit, this is a war, a War for the Rights of Animals, who basically have none…”

  3. While I do try to control my emotions when writing… writing something and then coming back to reread before hitting send is always a good rule to follow but one that I sometimes fail to do…

    And while I am never threatening I have reached the point where outright accustaions of “window dressing” life saving needs to be called out for what it is!

  4. Maybe if EVERYONE said exactly what was on their mind, the few people who do speak out won’t be standing out there on their own to look like a tiny minority. But threats of any nature are wrong & counter-productive.

    Speaking our mind is a constitutional right. It’s a shame those who have something to fear get so picky & freak out over every “suggestion” of a hint of violence.

  5. I doubt the family was told that the shelter was high kill and that their pet would probably be killed. I believe much of the public does not realize how high the kill rates are for their local shelters. Whose fault is that? I think the newspapers ought to report it monthly or at least yearly.

  6. While I do not advocate violence or any type of threats, I have to remember that this boy was 15 and well, 15 boys are like that sometimes. But I agree with the sentiment that it is not good. It makes all animal advocates look bad, just like the paint-throwing PeTA types make vegetarians like me look bad. We are all going to remember the crazy paint-throwers more than the ones who have a valid and important message without the paint.

    1. The red paint was for fur wearers. It had nothing to do with Vegetarians.

      Kudos to PETA protesters for standing up and drawing attention to what they believe in, instead of keeping quiet & thinking your politeness is ever going to make a change.

      1. I know that. But people, esp. those who are not vegetarians, are going to read stories about crazy paint-throwers and assume all vegetarians are crazy zealots like that. Sometimes when I mention that I am a vegetarian to people that look at me like I am one of “those people” when I am not; I couldn’t care less if you chose to eat meat, I just don’t.
        And to your second point, protesting is one thing, but it’s another to get up in someone’s face with paint and flour to prove your point. That’s taking your actions to way too far of an extreme. Protesting MAS and getting attention is one thing, but it’s far and away another to start throwing paint and flour on the workers at MAS, even if your emotions get in your way and you want to.

  7. And what happens to these kids and the effect of all this killing by Animal Control …one single Mom I met had her Irish Setter killed for being a dangerous dog…he was no danger – just too playful with an arthritic dog whose owner was a “friend” of the poundmaster….the broken-hearted pre-teen son of single Mom was allowed to write an angry letter to the poundmaster by his mother – she thought it would help him with his grief….I think he called poundmaster something like “you effing fat bastard”

    That horrible poundmaster (who is now deceased himself) cried foul to any and all who would listen…that poor family haunts me.

  8. You won’t like this, but I agree with Trisha, and I think you may have been rather rude to her. The US became a country by a revolution, not by people writing polite letters to King George, suggesting that he is wrong, and ought to do things differently. You will be celebrating that fact on July 4th. That boy’s threats probably brought home to the pound that not everybody thinks killing adoptable pets is a good idea – far more than any polite letters did. They might actually be more receptive to the polite letters now that you have their attention. It may be time for something a little stronger than polite letters to get the attention of the many killing shelters. I don’t know what that is, and I’m too old to storm the barricades. But I’m sure someone can think of something.

    1. I was addressing a narrow issue – communication with shelter staff and elected officials – which I believe should be kept respectful. This is not the only form of advocacy or means to bring about change. There are certainly other actions although again, I advocate non-violence. The story from Surry county involved a phone call and I wove that into the various letter writing and phone campaigns often undertaken via the blog. I’m sure you understand the difference.

      Trisha has a history of making inflammatory (a la trollish) comments – this is not a one time occurrence.

  9. Having worked at a will-kill shelter I have mixed feelings about some of your piece.

    On the one hand you have every right to insist on humane treatment. Animals should be fed and their facilities cleaned regularly, no exceptions.

    ON the other hand, I can’t help thinking euthanasia is exactly what shelters turn to when they reach the limits of what they can manage while living up to those standards. And once a shelter opts for that solution, the criteria are apt to include things like illness and or aggression. The bar gets lower as the kill rate gets higher. If a shelter can’t afford vet care, then fleas, etc. may well be enough cause to get an animal put down.

    So, the question to me is whether the shelter is at its limits or just incompetent. It’s easy to assume the latter, but if it is the former, then yes foster care, cooperation with other agencies, etc. can help. Alternatively, helping them to establish funding for such care can help (along with an MOU to ensure it happens). You are probably in a good position to push for such things, given the findings mentioned in your blog piece.

    But if you goals or those of other protesters don’t extend to constructive solutions, then the shelter will probably end up reconsidering its interface with the public (refusing to answer questions about the fate of animals for example). It should also be said that no-kill techniques may help, but they do not ensure a no-kill policy (and that too is no insurance that an animal would not be put down. You might be surprised at how many animals die in no-kill shelters. I wouldn’t. I remember very well sending animals to one near the shelter I worked only to find them dead within a weak.)

    Folks at shelters have to make a number of tough calls. You can insist that they do so responsibly, but short of a balanced pet population, it’s hard to see a future where an animal could not be put down for such reasons as this one.

  10. Did anyone else notice , at the end of the article on the threat of violence, there’s a link to a story titled “Officials: Shelter Pets are treated well.”

Leave a Reply