Blog the Change 1/15/12

For my first Blog the Change post for this year, I have lots of questions, but no answers. But I think these are things we should be talking about. The issue is kill shelters.

Lots of pals and people in the anipal twitterverse keep talking about how kill shelters should be closed down. I’m not sure that’s the right solution. There aren’t enough shelter places now for animals that need them. I think we should be talking about how to transform these shelters into no-kill shelters. This is not a simple undertaking, and raises a lot of questions about how to accomplish this.

Some of the questions that come to my mind are:

1. How to educate the general public to think of animals differently to start with?

We live in a disposable society. How do we teach people not to think of animals as a disposable commodity when people treat everything in their lives, including each other, as disposable? How do we teach people that pets aren’t toys, that adopting an animal is a lifetime committment?

2. Where will all the money come from?

The process needs money – lots of it. Money to run the shelters so they don’t have to kill the animals they can’t adopt out in order to make room for more homeless animals. Money to educate people of the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. Money to help families in trouble in these difficult times so they can keep their beloved family pets. Money for school programs that bring animals into schools so kids can learn about them as living, breathing, loving creatures. Money for support of TNR programs. Money to find ways to reduce the numbers of unwanted animals being born in the first place.

3. How do we change the philosophy of how shelters are seen?

Many still view shelters as a place to solve a problem. There are animals running loose around town. We gotta round ’em up and get ’em off the streets! Can’t find homes for them? Kill them! Problem solved. I don’t think that’s how shelters want to run, but some of them are under pressure to run that way. I feel so sorry for people who work in those places. Their hearts must break every day being forced to make decisions they don’t want to make. How do we get people to see shelters as places whose focus is to rehome animals, not as places to dispose of unwanted animals?

4. Am I even asking the right questions?

This is a huge issue. I don’t even know if I’m asking the right questions, much less what the answers are. I just don’t think closing kill shelters is the answer when we need more shelter spots than we have. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Blog the Change 1/15/12”

  1. Thank you for asking all the questions so many of us ask. As you demonstrate in your post, there are no easy answers. I focus on stopping the influx of new dogs by educating the public about puppy mills, but also encourage people explore adoption.
    I think the issue comes down to all of us. The more we educate people, the less they will make poor decisions when it comes to getting a dog, caring for a dog and keeping a dog. Creating more no-kill shelters requires that all of us stop reating more and more dogs. Until then, money becomes the problem.

    I think asking questions is the first step.
    Thank you for participating in Blog the Change!


  2. I think humans should be more responsible and neuter their pets. That’ll go a long way toward reducing the stray cat situation. Also I think TNR’s are very important. We don’t need to bring every stray to a shelter. If you remove them from their territory, another colony of strays and kittens will move right in. Lastly, shelters need to find foster homes for some of their overpopulation. More people should foster. That’s just MHO

  3. I think you asked all the right questions. I don’t like to see anipals killed either just because they are not adoptable. Our local Humane Society only puts down those that are totally not adoptable. They would like more people to foster so they wouldn’t have to put down any, but not everyone is able to shelter a kitty or doggie that is not tamed yet – not all of us have the skills to be successful at that. Educating the public is a start and I think we’ve all made a good start at that. But where to go from there. TNR programs are excellent – again we need to educate the public so they buy into the program and help trap the feral animals in their area. This is a very complex issue. I know some areas where the Humane Society is not run very well – I guess we are lucky that our local one is run well and every effort made to place each animal they receive. They also informed me that they get a lot of the animals that the other shelters won’t take because they are too full or because they are considered feral and not savable. Those end up at the local Humane Society., So, that doesn’t seem fair either. Somehow we need everyone with an animal on their property to get it spayed or neutered – that’s the only solution. I don’t know if that will ever happen. Yes, for sure, bless those that do work at shelters. I know they don’t like to put down an animal either. We’ll have to keep working on the issue as best we can.

  4. Excellent questions, ones we seem to keep going ’round and ’round on, yet can’t seem to find solutions for. Information is extremely powerful; I think spreading both knowledge and the issues of needs can help tremendously. You mention our disposable society – that is a key source of the problems, really, and one that has truly aggravated every aspect of what concerns us. As for money, some things can be handled through greater volunteer efforts, or donations from those who learn of the need. (I’d like to see a pet store tax; as long as they’re pumping all those extra pets into society for a large profit, why not have them contribute?) We can only draw hope from the successes we have seen in recent years, work to inform and educate, and continue the discussion until we’re able to crystallize the answers.

  5. Hard questions, to be sure. Each is important to ask again and again, until we find actionable answers that make sense. I tend to agree. We cannot manage the animals we have and, until we get to that point, facilities need to make hard choices about which animals are adoptable and which aren’t. It’s not a job I would ever want, but I’m grateful to those who do it with compassion. Until we never have to put another animal down again, we just have to keep educating to that end.

    Thanks for Blogging the Change,
    Kim C.

  6. Thanks for participating in Blog the Change Day! I think you’ve highlighted some very important questions. Here in Pittsburgh, we have three major shelters – two are Open Door Shelters and one is a No Kill Shelter. They work together to address the issue of pet overpopulation and pet homelessness. The Open Door Shelters will accept any animal regardless of its health and ability to be adopted. They work very hard to place every adoptable animal using foster homes and other offsite facilities. The No Kill Shelter does several rescues during the year to remove adoptable animals from local animal control facilities – opening spaces for more homeless animals. In an ideal world, there would be no need for “kill shelters” – but we are not there yet. We need to keep emphasizing the importance of spay/neutering and providing low-cost programs, as well as increasing awareness of the “adoption option”. The number of animals euthanized each year has decreased – and if we all work together, perhaps we will reach a day when we are truly a No Kill nation.

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