Read this first for context.
The piece really got me riled up. Mainly because yes, I see their point, I hear that point being made all the time, but also I volunteer and foster for a shelter that has us volunteers CONSTANTLY working against this attitude and at the same time we work with TONS of local spay/neuter groups AND run our own trap/fix/return groups for ferals. The other volunteers devote their lives to the dream of no-kill and some months we even make that numbers game come true (no-kill actually means low kill unfortunately Rule of thumb is that if you’ve only killed 10% of the dogs that month, then you’re ‘No’ kill). We’ve seen other local shelters do it, we’ve seen shelters all across the country do it! And yes, I admit, there are some rescue organizations and no-kill shelters that really do adopt out to seriously anyone, and yes I have beef with those people. But that is not true of every no-kill dreaming or achieving shelter in fact many of these places are even stricter to ensure that the animals won’t be returned.
There is just so much wrong with this way of thinking I can’t even begin to pick it apart. But i’ll try to give you the overall feelings I was having while reading this. Show you the dogs I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I foster the super adoptable cuties, the quick turn arounds as you will. Puppies 6 months and under and cute as a button. I’ve fostered 13 and the ones that I pull allow dogs who are ‘less adoptable’ just a little more time and man is it SO WORTH IT. Dogs that never had a chance in hell, dogs that took years, dogs that stayed in foster care in a separate outdoor pen because the resident dog didn’t like them, dogs like Nora.
I know using anecdotal evidence is not the best form of an argument but Nora is the reason I have hope and continue doing what I can to help this shelter. Nora and all the people who rose to help her. Nora who we would NOT give up, who is so much better off now than she would have been in a trashbag in the dump 2 years ago. Nora was not a model citizen when she first came to us, she was unruly, uncontrollable prey drive, and so big no one wanted to adopt her, but there was something about her that everyone loved.
During the whole time it took a village to save Nora, they also saved countless other less adoptable dogs. Pitbulls and chihuahas and countless hunting dogs no one cared about any more. Dogs hit with shovels, and dogs that had jumped out of trucks and broken their legs, and dogs that people tried to drown. All of them alive. All of them so much more than a trash bag in the dump.
That road has also been paved with the bodies of dogs like Frankie.
Frankie died on July 3rd, 2015 in anticipation of the shelter needing available space for all the dogs that would flood in after the fireworks began. The shelter at this point already had 150 dogs physically in their custody. They only have 90 kennels. Kennels were doubled up and crates were set up in the barn and even the quarantine station and cages in the vets office were full.
I made these graphics for the 8 dogs on ‘the list’ that day, hoping our group could share them and get a few saved. Hoping we could free up just enough space to give them another chance, just one more day. Because most of these dogs weren’t on there for any other reason than that was just the way the chips fell. Maybe they jumped in kennel or were too excited during meal times or simply had been there a bit too long. These dogs were also out of time.
1. Dublin and 2. Dymas and 3. Beanie and 8. Mr. Frankie were all lost that day.
BUT Numbers 4. Jackie 5. Shiloh 6. Pete and 7. Benny were saved. They got another day. All four were saved by last minute volunteers who squeezed just a bit more room out of their already overflowing houses. All the while callous people from the community were doing what the fireworks didn’t have the chance to do yet. 10 people surrendered their pets that day if i’m remembering correctly. Most for no other reason than “they’re too big” or “I don’t have enough room” or my favorite “we’re moving”.
So when I saw this article, and I read this woman’s thoughts all I could do was shake my head. Sure OF COURSE spaying and neutering programs could use more money but that’s the stupidest solution i’ve ever heard. The shelter I volunteer for (long distance now) is right next door to Austin, Texas. Arguably the biggest no-kill county in the country. A place overfull of FREE spay and neuter programs and TNR programs and low cost vet care. All of these places these citizens have access to. There are bill boards on the side of the road advocating fixing your animals and ads in the paper and awareness PARADES down this small town’s city streets. And still every. single. day there is at least one companion animal being dragged through those shelter doors, being walked by it’s former owners down the row of barking dogs in kennels, and finally being placed in a concrete kennel that has hopefully been cleaned since it’s last occupant left it, by who knows what means.
Every single day the ACOs pick up strays. Every single day callous or uneducated people drop off animals. And every single day the ladies who volunteer there (some more than 40 hours a week) try very hard not to punch people in the throat as they drag their dogs down to the kennel they will leave them in forever.
So sure. Pump all the money you want into spay/neuter programs because it is part of the solution. But please spare me when you say that you’d rather see all these dogs die. When you’d rather let this cycle continue. When you’d rather the landfills be full of dogs rather than letting them suffer for a little bit until they find their homes.
Yes they suffer, yes they HATE the kennels, yes they LOVE the volunteers who sacrifice their own time and money to come be with them. But no. No they are not better off in a landfill. No they are not better off dying at 2 because people are too irresponsible to deal with their choices, to live up to their ignorance.
So yes. I believe in no kill. I believe in a future with empty shelters, but I believe in every dog walking out the front door, not being carted out in a body bag.
I believe dogs like Nora are better off alive. I believe that dogs Nora DESERVE the lives they have now, after all they’ve suffered through this is what makes it worth it.
This article has really inspired me to talk more about my work with animal rescue. Since I can’t foster any more i’m constantly trying to use my skills that I do have to do good for these dogs. Expect a series of posts to follow (ones with more concrete figures and references and slightly less rage) including some information about how you can help.
Until next time,