Tag Archive: no kill animal shelter


Taking Responsibility

I’ve been racking my brain for creative ways to change this country’s methods of animal sheltering because it does not seem to be working. Every shelter is run independently with no common set of rules and regulations. No solution is coming to me. This week, an incident occurred at my local animal shelter which clarified something, however. It’s not the sheltering system that’s necessarily broken, it’s people’s attitudes about pets that need fixing.

My county’s shelter is open access, or as some individuals like to say it’s a “kill” shelter. No animals are turned away; it’s always full with strays that go unclaimed and owner surrenders for various reasons that are understandable (death of a family member, financial) or completely ludicrous (no time, moving, the pet is old, etc).

This week, a woman surrendered two healthy young dogs to this shelter because she said she was moving and couldn’t take them. She was given no promises that the shelter could find homes for the dogs. At the time, the shelter was very full so they called various rescue groups and other shelters. Surprise, surprise, the “no-kill” shelters couldn’t help because they were full, as were the rescue groups. The shelter called another open access shelter in another county and they offered to help. They took the dogs and several others because this shelter had open space. This action was applauded because good working relationships between shelters is absolutely necessary to help get animals adopted. Sadly, one of the dogs was aggressive at the second shelter, unable to be handled. The shelter made the decision to euthanize the dog.

When the owner found out, she claimed that my county’s shelter promised to keep the dogs for a week and acted as if she was only boarding them there. She started a hate campaign against the shelter and even called the television news. Hate campaigns only drive people away from the shelter that needs help the most. People stop adopting, making an open access shelter even more crowded and the situation more desperate.

The blame here is not the shelter’s in this case and in so many cases where pets are carelessly abandoned. Blaming the shelter for the problem is like blaming someone who mopped up spilled milk. The blame is on the person who spilled it.

Many people in this country are treating pets like technology. They need to have the latest and greatest, and if they get tired of it or can’t afford it, they toss it away. THIS is the change that must happen in our society, not the methods of sheltering. We need to teach people to be accountable for their pets. Don’t buy from pet stores, the Internet, and puppy mills; stop breeding pets indiscriminately; get them spayed and neutered; don’t allow them to run loose; have ID on them; get them properly trained.

So many animals come into crowded shelters and have nowhere to go. One proposed solution is that all shelters declare themselves to be “no-kill” meaning they never kill an animal unless it has severe medical issues. Sounds wonderful, right? Okay, what happens when the no-kill shelters are full which they often are? They accept no more animals. Where do the unwanted animals go if all of the shelters are no-kill and have to turn animals away. People will just dump the animals on the streets to fend for themselves? So much for this solution.

It’s time to stop bashing animal shelters and start turning our efforts to educating people to take responsibility for their actions. Animal control is a community effort, not just the responsibility of the animal shelters. It’s exhausting to be the ones constantly mopping up floors when someone else is always causing the spills.

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No-Kill Done Wrong

I read a recent news article that made me stop and say, “What??!” The story was a plea for foster homes so that a no-kill animal shelter could take in puppies and dogs from high kill shelters in other areas of the country, mainly the South. While you may think this sounds wonderful, just wait. There’s more to this story.

This shelter used to be a high kill shelter, serving a large county. They had a very bad reputation for killing a lot of animals. Due to immense community pressure, they decided to become no-kill. Okay, that made many people happy and sounds good still. Now here’s the problem. When this shelter went no-kill, it closed its doors to the county’s large number of stray animals. So that forced the county to find another shelter to take their strays. The county contracted with a neighboring county’s shelter to take in the strays. Still sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. What’s the saying, “Stuff flows downhill”? Indeed it did in this case. The county shelter now taking in the strays are doing the killing. The bottom line, no fewer animals are dying, they are just going somewhere else and the blood is on someone else’s hands. Now this other county’s shelter has been the subject of community outrage. As a result of public pressure and involvement from a senator, they have hired a new executive staff and replaced most board members. Let’s hope they stop this cycle of nonsense.

Which brings us back to the article. This shelter who no longer accepts their own county’s stray animals and has passed the killing over to another county’s shelter is bringing more animals into the area which already had too many animals. Again, I say “WHAT??!!!” Why aren’t they helping the animals that came from their own county first? Or are these animals out of sight, out of mind and it’s now another county’s problem? Why are the animals in other states more deserving than those in their own backyard?

This scenario is truly a case of getting the no-kill philosophy totally wrong. It’s not enough for a shelter to just declare that it’s no-kill. The animals have to go somewhere. A true no-kill philosophy is multi-dimensional. It demands that the shelter work with the community to increase humane education, make spay and neuter more accessible and affordable, work with the government to change and enforce laws, and develop a huge network of adoptive and foster homes.

One thing that everyone needs to understand, no-kill must be a community goal, not just the declaration of one shelter. Unless it is supported by the efforts of many, the animals will only be passed along somewhere else and the killing really isn’t stopped. It’s just being rerouted. If you are donating to a no-kill shelter, find out where the strays in the community are going. If they are going to a kill shelter somewhere else, then the no-kill shelter is simply not doing their job.

It’s time for this country to overhaul our animal sheltering system. It starts with us!