The last few posts on the blog have involved pets being needlessly and “accidentally” killed by the municipal shelters charged with protecting them. In Hernando Co, the victim was a dog whose owner, if he had one, wasn’t given the legally mandated time to redeem him because the pound oops-killed him before the holding period expired. In Jacksonville, it was two newborn kittens who were being transferred from one foster owner to another when the pound oops-killed them without bothering to check. And in Yuma, AZ, a lost dog whose owners tried to redeem him but were turned away by the pound was oops-killed for coughing. When public shelters fail to do their jobs and cultivate a culture of killing healthy/treatable pets as the acceptable norm, they damage more than just the staff, volunteers and rescuers involved in day to day operations. They pollute the community with this morally bankrupt ethos.
A young man in MA had flea bath appointments for his two cats at a veterinary clinic last week. He first dropped off one kitty, signed the form he was given, then returned shortly afterward to deliver the second cat. As he was signing that form, which he assumed was a basic form allowing the cats to have flea baths, the vet asked him if he wanted to keep the bodies.
Keep the bodies?
“It was like a blank stare back at each other for the first 10 seconds, then [the veterinarian] immediately grabbed the papers I thought were registration forms and told me I had signed the papers.”
As it turns out, the form the young man was given was an authorization to euthanize a pet, not a consent for a flea bath. No one at the clinic reportedly explained anything to him – just got his signature on the form and took the cat.
The vet who killed the first cat and was prepared to kill the second one declined to speak with the local TV news but instead hid behind his lawyer, who also hid.
The practice of killing healthy/treatable pets without asking questions, commonplace in too many municipal shelters, is accompanied by a lack of compassion and a failure to stand up for a pet’s most basic right: the right to live. This disturbing attitude is not limited to animal shelters and creeps into society at large. But shelters, whose very names imply a duty to act as a safe haven, provide humane care and protect pets from cruelty, are community leaders and must set the example for others to follow. When shelters, humane societies and societies for the prevention of cruelty kill healthy/treatable pets without question and do not advocate for the right of pets to live, it is not surprising to find individuals in the community adopting this same attitude.
It also doesn’t surprise me to read that, when confronted about the killing of a healthy pet, the vet refused to stand behind his actions. Again, a page from the playbook of too many pounds in this country. Everyone knows killing healthy/treatable pets is wrong – even those doing the killing. But most of them aren’t going to stop on their own. It is up to us as pet lovers and ethically responsible people to publicly demand an end to the killing of healthy/treatable pets and to demand their right to live be respected. Until we change the culture of acceptance concerning needless pet killing, we will continue to witness this unending parade of death. And in the end, it doesn’t matter much whether the pets at the landfill were killed by “accident” or by design. What matters is that most people accept the killing as “necessary” and some even go so far as to call it a “kindness”. This must change.