Unshakable Faith

Many people think of pets as intuitive in the sense that they know when they are in the hands of people who would hurt them.  We often see pets housed in so-called shelters who appear fearful, depressed or extremely anxious and agitated – behaviors indicative of pets under stress.  But some shelter pets don’t seem to pick up on the the fact that the people around them may commit the ultimate act of violence against them at any moment.  Maybe they had an owner who only ever showed them love and affection.  Maybe even if they were strays, the only humans these pets have ever known were kind and compassionate.  Maybe they have an unshakable faith in our species.  Who can say?

This dog and cat, listed on PetHarbor as being held at the Iredell Co pound in NC, don’t seem to realize they are headed for the gas chamber if someone at the pound decides to kill them.

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Paraphrasing Nathan Winograd: When your pet dies, you will grieve. When you die, your pet will grieve. That alone should take killing off the table.

There ought to be a law against the arbitrary killing of pets in shelters.

There ought to be a law against gas chambers.

As compassionate human beings, we must endeavor to deserve that unshakable faith.

23 thoughts on “Unshakable Faith

  1. We need to start to make change! What is our first step. Many of us are upset over the abuse of animals, but don’t know how to start. There are many of us advocates and that should be enough to make a difference!

  2. I live in KY and my friend and I want to start a no-kill sanctuary. We would like to have a senior and hospice for the animals, a program where we hire a specialized trainer to work with shelter dogs to become service dogs and therapy dogs and then have your adoption center. We do not have the money to build or buy. I know there are grants out there but don’t know how to write a grant.
    Any ideas?

  3. Stop the killing of these beautiful souls and adopters, volunteers, supporters, positive media, donations, Fans, and only GOOD will come. I know this for a fact! We did it at UPAWS and I know it can happen. And we remain open admission; please take the time to read the No-Kill steps, read Redemption. Then get to work and STOP killing!

    1. No ,it doesn’t help Rollie, but if change can be effected, it might help other animals. Far too many beautiful animals are dying every day.

  4. “Paraphrasing Nathan Winograd: When your pet dies, you will grieve. When you die, your pet will grieve. That alone should take killing off the table.”

    This is absolutely true. So – tell me what to do when I get to work today (or tomorrow if we’re lucky) and there’s no more room, and 10 more cats come in? Should we adopt out 10 cats to make room? I love that idea – unfortunately, adopters don’t always appear on command, no matter how many posts and flyers and ads and events one does. Transfer? We just transferred a number of cats yesterday, have another rescue picking up 2 more this week [breathes a sigh of relief for them, at least]. No luck with the others. We’ll make some last minute calls just in case some spots have opened up. But if they haven’t? Fostering? Great idea, and that’s why we’re expanding our fostering program. That helps, up to a point. Not enough. Helpthem keep their pets? I spend half the day on the phone doing that. It helps. But not enough. (If I was king of the world I’d decree that landlords *had* to allow pets, but I’m not.). Tell me, what should I do? And btw, could you please stop insinuating that the staff at my and every other open-admission shelter are gleefully rubbing their hands together and musing… ‘Hmmm, who should I kill today? I know! How about him! And her, and her, and yes, him too! [dances around, emitting loathesome, glotteral chuckles].

    “There ought to be a law against the arbitrary killing of pets in shelters.”
    I’m next door to Delaware. I’ve seen what a CAPA law is doing there. Good intentions, no doubt of that. Not good outcomes. Based on an incorrect model
    Of how shelterworld does (and tragically doesn’t) work.

    1. Apparently this is where I’m supposed to respond:

      Well gosh, it looks like you’ve tried everything and you’re doing the best you can, guess you’ll just have to keep on killing pets.

      Then I’ll shut down the blog b/c hey, no point in continuing right?

      But here’s the response you’re going to get instead:

      “adopters don’t always appear on command” – Really? If that’s your expectation, no wonder you sound so bitter.

      A couple things I’ve noticed that no kill shelter staff members have in common: They work their tails off getting pets out alive. They don’t consider killing healthy/treatable pets to be an option.

      Instead of lugging around a defeatist attitude – which has got to weigh a ton – why not abandon it completely and embrace the idea that every shelter strategy in the world – both proven and not yet imagined – is available to you EXCEPT KILLING. Ask your staff to each contribute 10 ideas you haven’t tried before to get pets out alive. Tell them there are no bad ideas and all contributions are welcome. Since you’re the leader, you bring 20 new ideas to the table. Put them all out there for discussion, make everyone feel included in the plan to save every life in the shelter. Invest in lifesaving, see what kind of return you get.

      I have no idea what strategies your shelter has tried nor do I know anything at all about your shelter so I can’t make a particularly meaningful contribution myself. But I don’t want to come empty handed so I’ll toss out 10 ideas off the top of my head that aren’t specifically mentioned in your comment and who knows, maybe one might be useful to you:

      1. Get a pet showcased on a local TV news show every week.

      2. Neuter, vaccinate and return feral cats to their home in the community.

      3. Conduct at least one offsite adoption event per day at a high traffic location.

      4. Put together a radio spot for your area (including college) stations promoting your shelter.

      5. Offer a Pay What You Wish adoption weekend.

      6. Solicit professional photographers in the area to donate time (3 hours per week, 1 hour per week, whatever time they can offer) making professional photos to showcase pets. Use those photos on social media outlets, paper flyers, TV ads, etc.

      7. List every pet in your facility online immediately upon pickup in the field or upon impound if brought to the shelter. Include a photo with every listing – no exceptions. Add to these listings over time as the staff gets to know the pet. Include as much detail as is known about the pet such as personality traits and skills the pet has (litterbox trained, walks well on leash, etc.).

      8. Make every effort to return pets picked up in the field to their owners. Photograph them and upload them to your website immediately in case the owner is looking for them. Scan them in the field for microchips, call all numbers associated with the chip (if found) and on the tag (if wearing one). Knock on doors in the neighborhood where found to try and determine where the pet lives. If the owner can not get home immediately to meet you, have the owner arrange for a neighbor or relative to take the pet. Make the impounding of stray pets a last resort after all reasonable efforts to return the pet have been unsuccessful.

      9. Monday is Labor Day. Keep the shelter open and promote a “Labor of Love” adoption event for the day.

      10. September 22 is the first day of fall. Promote a “Fall in Love” adoption event for that weekend.

      Good luck and please let us know how things go.

    2. Let me add a few ideas . . .
      Get the problem out there. Over and over, I hear about the public lining up to help take animals when facilities are overloaded. (Check out UPAWS and KC Dog Blog for a couple) But they have to know and you have to trust them to help.
      My 2 local facilities do “whisker Wednesdays” where all cats and kittens are free (with the same adoption screening done as they do for paid adoptions) and “free love Fridays” (with the same screening), The first “free love Friday” this summer saw over 55 animals go into their forever homes.
      Contact some true no-kill open admission shelters to find out how they are doing it. You know, they’d probably be happy to give you some ideas.

      What you need to do is to make the choice, and yes, it’s a choice, to stop killing. Involve your staff, the public, the media, etc and create some ways to send them all out the front door alive.

      The local hs, now doing many more adoptions, used to be a high kill facility and I volunteered there when staff would walk through and pick certain animals to be killed because of age, color, length of stay, etc. In fact, I offered to foster a very shy 7 month old kitten and they refused because they had already decided she was “unadoptable”! Needless to say, I left that place and have recently returned since they have had a change in directors, staff and are moving toward saving many, many more. It can be done!

      I wish you good luck and hope you are willing and able to achieve your goals.

  5. There are plenty..Let me say that again..there are plenty of shelters and rescues that are doing it. Look at Stray Rescue of St. Louis. I love this rescue. Shelters have a hard time adopting out dogs who have be surrendered by their humans. Try operating a rescue that goes out into the worst neighborhoods of St. Louis and rescuing a true feral/street dog.
    Now those people are committed to those dogs and they work hard getting the dogs adopted out. Now just a month or so ago Stray Rescue adopted out almost two hundred dogs in one weekend. We even drove from Kentucky to St. Louis to adopt our dog. Then look at Best Friend in Utah. Then look at the state of NH. Not only is NH a no-kill state but they come to the south to rescue dogs and take them back and find homes for the dogs. First give people a reason to walk into the shelter and stay for a while. I have gone into shelters and the first thing you smell is urine, walk a little and see the dogs, who are dirty and ungroomed, walk a little more smell the air feel a chill go down your spine (death is coming) really no matter how compassionate a person is they can only stand the shelter for 5 min. How does anyone expect any of the animals in shelters in that kind of environment to get adopted out?

  6. I truly believe that it is time to take shelters from the dark ages and look at a new kind of shelter. A shelter where the animals have not only a place to survive but a place where they can thrive. I think we should make shelter directors and employees locked in cages for a weekend. Then tell me that they enjoyed it, they were comfortable and let’s see if there are any changes in the way they behave or re-act. Oh. we can’t forget to spray down those cages when they are on the floor.
    I know when I worked in a state hospital every employee found out what it was like to be tied down in restraints. It may have only been for 2 hours but I certainly found out what those patients go through.

  7. April … love the idea; NYCACC, Clayton, Devore, Memphis, Miami Dade …. the list goes on & on; I wonder what would happen if the directors & committee chairpersons sneezed if the Tech on duty would euthanize them or send them to a hospital.

  8. Don’t have time for a longer reply right now – the kid needed her bedtime stories, and then there were all the new cats to put up on petfinder, etc. – but thanks to everyone for all the ideas! We are doing (or will be starting) some already, and there are others we just disagree with or aren’t practical for our circumstances, but there’s a lot of good stuff here. I certainly have some disagreements/ideological differences with you guys, but (shrug) same goal, eventually. (I think it’s going to take a lot longer, and be a lot harder, nationwide, but hey, hopefully I’m wrong.
    (Really like the idea of a Fall in love event – Stray Rescue of St. Louis is pretty awe-inspiring – caged staff is interesting; I think we know that it’s really stressful to terrifying for them, but there’s knowing and *knowing*… (Etc.)

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