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Op-Ed in OH Paper Misses the Mark

In an op-ed piece entitled “Last Resort”, the Columbus Dispatch offers:

Hands down, the worst job in any dog shelter doesn’t involve a scoop and a bag; it requires a needle, or a gas chamber.

Killing shelter pets is a worse job than scooping poo.  This is not a valid comparison and worse – it attempts to group diametrically opposed actions into the same category.  While keeping cages clean is necessary for hygiene and humane care, killing healthy/treatable shelter pets is not only unnecessary, it’s unethical.  Clean cages are an integral part of any animal shelter, killing is the opposite of why shelters exist.

“We hate putting dogs to sleep down here. We hate it, we hate it, we hate it,” Bill Click, the dog warden of Lawrence County, told The Dispatch.

Lawrence Co killed 81% of the dogs in its care last year according to The Dispatch.  This is a travesty and to my mind should be a crime.  But the dog warden says they “hate it” so I guess that’s supposed to demonstrate that some shred of humanity resides within those doing the killing.  If they hate it so much why don’t they stop doing it?  Especially since there are proven methods for saving every healthy/treatable pet being used by dozens of open admission shelters all over the U.S.

The real villains behind high euthanasia rates are irresponsible owners who fail to spay or neuter their pets.

So I’ve heard.  And judging from the comments of those who kill shelter pets for a living as well as those who enable the killing (such as the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch), all these irresponsible owners are concentrated in communities where the public shelters kill animals.

It’s weird because common sense tells me there must be irresponsible owners everywhere, even in the many no kill communities throughout the country.  But I never hear no kill leaders in these communities decrying the horrible locals who make their lives hell.  On the contrary, I so often hear no kill shelter directors praising the public, reaching out to them for donations and other assistance – and receiving it.

Do communities where the shelters save every healthy/treatable pet have irresponsible owners who fail to neuter their pets?  Of course they must.  But just as there are a comparatively small number of irresponsible drivers and  irresponsible parents among those populations in society, irresponsible pet owners represent a tiny minority.  Most pet owners try to do right by their pets and don’t want to see shelter pets hurt.  No kill community leaders recognize that and put it to use in their lifesaving efforts.

Any shelter where more than 8 out of every 10 dogs who come in the front door wind up in the dumpster is not relying on killing as a “last resort”, as the op-ed’s title suggests, but rather Plan A.  Standard Operating Procedure.  The Number One Priority.  In Lawrence Co, and in too many other municipal shelters, the method of population control is killing and live release is in fact the last resort.  And that is not the public’s fault.

(Thank you Jan for the link.)

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