A Response to Some Comments on Yesterday’s Post

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are likely a supporter of no kill, unless you just come here to hate read which – hey, we take all comers.  But if you are for no kill, you are a compassionate person who believes that shelter directors should do their jobs and not kill the animals in their care.  And it’s likely you do more than read about ending the killing – whether you have adopted an animal to save his life, addressed your local politicians about no kill, volunteered at a shelter or any number of other ways you might be engaged.

If you work with (or for) the director and staff of your local shelter for any length of time, you may come to consider them friends.  You may come to feel that, even though they kill animals, they are basically good people in a bad situation.  And you may be right.  Every pet killing facility that transitioned to no kill had some well-intentioned people working there who needed education and had a willingness to change.  You might be working with people like that.

Here’s the thing:  education and change don’t fall from the sky and bathe you in their glory.  There has to be someone to speak up and demand reform.  It can be demanded in polite terms.  It can be demanded respectfully.  It can be demanded with a bouquet of daisies.  But someone has to do it.

People are hesitant to bring criticism to their friends, especially when they have developed and want to maintain the relationship.  And many pet killing facilities make it clear on social media or even in their policy handbooks that criticism is not allowed.  Animal advocates sometimes have the concern, and rightfully so, that their ability to help animals at the shelter will be taken away if they speak up against the killing.  I get all of that.

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Portion of a Facebook posting

Still, someone has to do it.  If no one stands up and says unequivocally that killing is wrong and it needs to stop immediately, no one will hear it.  And if no one hears it, those good people you are working with, sympathizing with, making excuses for, enabling – whatever you want to call it – will maintain the status quo.  They will keep killing animals while you keep silent.

Love comes in many forms.  (Photo by Casey Post)

I have no problem being the bad guy.  I will call out every director failing to shelter animals and killing them instead.  Every last one.  The ones who say they hate it, the ones who seem to enjoy it, and every one in between.  If they never hear it from anyone else, they will hear it from me:  killing shelter animals, including the unborn, is wrong.

My hope though, is that by bringing attention to the individual shelters doing the killing, someone local will be motivated to take action to protect the animals.  I’m not saying anyone is going to chain themselves to the kill room door and chant “No more killing” into a bullhorn or anything, but maybe a meeting will be sought.  Perhaps a conversation will be had.  Even if it’s only to say what a jerk that YesBiscuit is and what does she know and we’re doing the best we can but oh I did notice that no kill checklist she posted and I wondered if one of those things might work for us.  It’s a start.

That no kill checklist

Complacency is the enemy of reform. If you find yourself defending the killing of shelter animals, you have become complacent about the failure at your shelter.  Snap out of it.  Do not wait for a mandatory spay-neuter law to magically solve your challenges – mainly because MSN has never eliminated or reduced the killing of shelter animals anywhere it’s been tried.  It’s a proven failure with some communities seeing an increase in killing after the passage of MSN.  This is why MSN is opposed by most every major animal welfare group in the country including the No Kill Advocacy Center, ASPCA, Alley Cat AlliesAVMA, and the American College of Theriogenologists.  There is no excuse for continuing the killing while waiting to implement a failed plan and ignoring those practices which have been proven to be successful in saving shelter pets.  The programs and policies that will help you long term to maintain no kill can also be relied upon to help you in your immediate crisis.

It all starts with a hard working, compassionate director committed to lifesaving for whom killing is not an option.  Do you have that at your shelter?  If yes, you’ve got a head start.  If no, you need one.  You can’t skip that one for now and expect to move ahead.  There is no shelter saving more than 90% of its animals being led by someone who kills animals for convenience.  And yes, that is the right word.  You can call it killing for space, time, resources, population control or any name you like but the animals are being killed for convenience – yours, obviously.  And it’s entirely inconsistent with no kill.

There is no easy to be had in this world, I’m convinced.  Sheltering pets instead of killing them takes extensive, continuous efforts from the director, staff, volunteers and the community.  I guess that’s why they call it work.

11 thoughts on “A Response to Some Comments on Yesterday’s Post

  1. Bravo!

    I think some of the most well-meaning people are unknowingly holding back progress when they enable continued killing.

    “But they’re TRYING SO HARD.”

    “They work themselves nearly to death trying to save animals!”

    “They’re REALLY GOOD PEOPLE who are doing a thankless job!”

    Yeah, well if they’re trying so hard and are working so hard and are really good people and are still failing, maybe they need to look at doing things differently than they’ve done them before. Because you can work really hard at something and still fail. Criticism can be a VERY useful thing if your ego is healthy enough to see it that way.

  2. Excellent post. My favorite quote is this: “education and change don’t fall from the sky and bathe you in their glory. There has to be someone to speak up and demand reform. It can be demanded in polite terms. It can be demanded respectfully. It can be demanded with a bouquet of daisies. But someone has to do it.”

    Yes, someone has to do it and sometimes being that someone comes with costs (“no soup for you…” remember?) but they are costs most of us are willing to pay. When my advocacy group first began speaking out for reform years ago, we pretty much got a combo of resistance, defensiveness and excuses. Because we got no cooperation from municipal officials when we tried to help – and arranged for free help from subject matter experts with proven experience- we took the subject to the public to get them involved.

    A few years later and we are in a community which is saving more than 90% of the animals entering the shelter. We have been ridiculed, attacked and vilified in the process, mostly by those who work hard to save animals. If that makes no sense to you, my explanation is simple. Because it’s easier to attack the messenger and just try to ignore the message so you won’t be considered one of the boat rockers. Our biggest critics have been in the rescue and advocacy community who have stood in defense of killing (“but nobody wants to kill animals”) while refusing to stand up to and speak very directly to their friends doing the killing. They presume we went from reading a book or doing research to outspoken criticism while selective forgetting that whole helping, pleading, guiding, persuading phase we really did employ first.

    If someone had told me in January of 2012 that our community would achieve save rates above 90%, but that it would take the members of our advocacy group being personally attacked and emotionally drained, I think we all would have signed up for that anyway. It is and has always been about the animals and not about us at all.

    It’s just unfortunate that the process was made immeasurably more difficult by those who continued to enable and apologize for the killing and that it took so long to get from point A to point B. There’s a phrase that goes something like “you can take the easy way or the hard way.” Our community took the hard way and the struggle continues to this day. But at least we stood up and rocked that boat and had the courage to say “enough.”

  3. I spared myself from reading all the comments at the previous article. In fact, I stopped after reading the first comment. There are clearly many things wrong in that shelter and it seems they don’t feel the urgency to implement life saving programs. If I would be shelter director in that shelter, here is what I would do immediately:
    implement large scale volunteer program
    implement large scale foster program
    hold large scale adoption events outside the shelter
    get the community involved and ask the public for help

    Long term solution in addition:
    build a bigger shelter
    get new Leadership

  4. You are an inspiration.Thank you for being the voice of reason in an insane world. And also giving a voice to the voiceless. You are such a wonderful compassionate person!:)

  5. We here at K9 Rehab Institute in Rio Rancho are joining forces to make those personally responsible for the killing. There is no excuse to terminate in this state when there is now a facility completely dedicated to rehabilitate those dogs that have been mistakenly and irresponsibly deemed “aggressive” for the sake of making a kill list. You are either on the side of making a huge change or you are just as guilty as those who do the killing. If you don’t want your name and face in the media as a killer then change teams and start the ball rolling towards a no kill state. Someone is responsible for the 60,000 animals killed last year in the name of animal humane. Rehabilitate don’t terminate. Join the team that speaks loudly for the animals.

  6. All your posts are keepers, but this one, this one….starred, bookmarked, and everything possible to make sure it is read, re-read, shared on social media, again, and again, until we can say, “it is done, they are safe.”

  7. Shirley , you , and so many others that have commented are my heroes. When being told ” your negative comments are why you are not included on the advisory committees” , I realize , the advisory committee would never have been formed , were it not for someone speaking up. If speaking up is “negative” , I’m willing to wear that title.

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