There is a great hypocrisy in the humane movement. While shelters decry the public’s irresponsibility, shelters reject responsibility for the animals in their care. And while they tell the public not to treat the animals as disposable, they treat animals exactly that way by killing them-and literally disposing of their bodies in landfills. In fact, they will even deny that they are killing. The Humane Society of the U.S. held a workshop on “euthanasia” at their national sheltering conference in March of 2006. According to the speaker,
“We’re not; we’re not killing them… in that ‘kill’ is such a negative connotation. It’s… we’re not killing them. We are taking their life, we are ending their life, we are giving them a good death, we’re humanely destr- whatever. But we’re not killing. And that is why I cannot stand the term ‘No Kill’ shelters.”
Animal shelter professionals from coast-to-coast applauded in agreement, but more disturbing is the nation’s “euthanasia” expert professing an Orwellian logic: killing is not killing, killing is kindness. And when you deny all responsibility, the impetus to change your own behavior disappears. ~ Nathan Winograd, Irreconcilable Differences
An animal facility that kills a significant portion of the animals that come in is not a “shelter.” It’s not a “humane” society or an animal “protection” society, nor is it preventing cruelty to animals. It’s a pound.
If your local pound’s kill rate is higher than its live-release rate, then make no mistake, it’s primarily in the business of pet killing. It’s a pet-killing facility. North Carolina has a lot of pet-killing facilities.
When organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and the North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare give “Shelter We Love” awards to pounds that kill more animals than they protect, they are saying: “We love pet killing facilities.”
Some of these pet-killing facilities shove the animals into a metal box designed to suffocate them to death, in which, according to accounts, they “gasp for breath, their insides burning. They claw at the floor and throw themselves against the walls of the chamber in an attempt to get out.” When the HSUS and NCVAW give “Shelter We Love” awards to such pet-killing facilities, they are saying “We love gas chambers.”
The pet-killing facilities and their defenders try to make you to believe that they have no choice but to kill massive quantities of animals. They eagerly propagate the myths that “pet overpopulation” and the “irresponsible public” “force” them to kill pets.
Oh, except we are not supposed to call it killing. They want folks to think that what they are doing is merciful and kind, so they say they “euthanize” the pets, or “put them to sleep.” Because killing animals would be bad.
Euthanasia means “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” Killing healthy and savable pets, i.e. at least 90 percent of the animals that enter shelters each year, is not euthanasia.
And it’s completely unnecessary. Currently, at least 83 communities (and counting) in the United States have ended the killing of healthy and savable pets in their shelters. (Seven of these communities are just to the north of us in Virginia: Albemarle County, Arlington, Charlottesville, Fluvanna County, King George County, Lynchburg and Powhatan County have all achieved No Kill success.) They did it by implementing programs and partnerships that keep animals out of the shelters in the first place or get them out (alive) as soon as possible after they come in.
In the face of the growing success of life-saving shelters, how can anyone justify the killing that continues in almost all NC pounds?*
It’s quite simple: they lie. They falsely claim that open-admission and animal-control shelters cannot be No Kill. An example from the FAQ on the APS of Durham (2011 kill rate: 68.23 percent) web site: “Many no-kill (or limited admission) shelters sharply limit the number and type of animals they will take. If they’re near capacity, they’ll refuse to take in additional animals, forcing the owners to find another place for the animal.”
Open-admission No Kill shelters do have pet-retention programs designed to keep pets in their homes whenever possible. Or some, like the Lynchburg Humane Society, ask pet owners if they can wait for an open space before surrendering their pets. But open-admission No Kill shelters don’t flat-out refuse to take owner surrenders. Makena Yarborough, director of Lynchburg Humane Society wrote: “No, not everyone waited and honestly not everyone could wait. There were situations where, for the sake of the pet or due to a lack of options, we couldn’t ask the pet owners to wait.”
The claim that open-admission shelters cannot be No Kill is just a bald-faced lie.
Another popular lie, which you can see in action at the FAQ section of the Person County pound’s web site, is “There is no such thing as a No Kill shelter. We do have to humanly euthanize animals due to overpopulation, sick, injured, and unsocialized and aggressive dogs.” So how exactly is it that in 2011 the Person County pound “had” to “euthanize” almost 68 percent of the pets that came in while in the Foothills Humane Society, the open-admission animal control shelter serving Polk County, only had to practice TRUE euthanasia on 3.4 percent of their pets?
Considering the population of each county, the FHS actually took in MORE animals per capita (1 for every 9 people) in 2011 than Person County did (1 for every 16 people). So there’s no claiming that somehow “pet overpopulation” exists in Person County while it does not in Polk County. Is there something terribly, inherently wrong with the pets in Person County that’s not a problem in Polk County? Did all of the responsible, conscientious pet owners move to Polk County, leaving places like Person County stuck with nothing but the irresponsible, neglectful ones?
The real difference is that the leadership and staff of the Foothills Humane Society decided not to blame the public and pine for some magical day when everyone would spay and neuter and no one would ever relinquish a pet. With the help of their community, they did the hard work of implementing the programs and services necessary to protect and save the lives of shelter pets.
It’s time for the rest of North Carolina’s so-called “shelters” and groups like HSUS and NCVAW, which pass themselves off as the vanguard of the “humane” movement, to ditch the blame and the lies and follow suit.
Even if we were to assume for the sake of argument that they are right, if we assume that not a single No Kill community exists, what difference would that make? None. Instead of fighting efforts to create one, they should be dedicating themselves to figuring out how to bring them into existence.~ Nathan Winograd, Their Own Worst Enemies
*The notable exception being the Foothills Humane Society in Polk County, which has a 2012 year-to-date save rate of almost 99 percent.)