No kill advocates face some challenges in winning the hearts and minds of the public and particularly those active in animal welfare. We must battle the myth of pet overpopulation. We must expose the truth about the records of groups like HSUS, PETA and ASPCA. We must educate people regarding the difference between killing and euthanasia. We must dispel the notion that the public is too irresponsible to be trusted with pet ownership. These issues, and many others, require vigilance and persistence on the part of no kill advocates in order for us to advance our cause.
But there is one principle of the no kill movement that to my mind surpasses all others. It should be considered our battle flag – our Prime Directive, if you will. That fundamental truth is: Every pet has a right to live.
Even if every one of our core beliefs fell apart tomorrow – somehow the math debunking pet overpopulation is wrong, PETA doesn’t actually kill close to 100% of the pets it takes in, all pet owners are loose cannons, etc. – there can be no wavering in our commitment to the tenet that healthy/treatable dogs and cats, including ferals and fetal puppies and kittens, have the right to live. To paraphrase a revered document: We hold this truth to be self-evident.
Many of you have likely encountered resistance to no kill in the form of justifications for pet killing such as:
- There aren’t enough homes for all of them.
- PETA says killing is a kindness.
- It’s better to offer a humane death than risk the possibility of the animal going to a hoarder, dogfighter, or abuser.
While we can temporarily allow, for the sake of discussion, that any of these things are true (I don’t believe they are), it does not follow that killing is an option. In other words, even if we were to agree that we have too many pets and not enough homes, it does not follow that these pets must forfeit their lives. Not only is this a proven failure as a “solution” (otherwise, shelters wouldn’t still be doing it since the problem would have been solved by now with these millions of pet killings, right?), it defies our own moral compass and guiding principle that pets have the right to live.
So if somehow all other aspects of no kill were shattered (which is not something I believe will ever happen), I would still steadfastly advocate for the right of pets to live. Because pet killing is not an option. I am for no kill.