No one knows for sure exactly how many but every year at least 9 million perfectly adoptable dogs and cats are killed senselessly in animal control shelters across the North American continent.  With all due respect to Nathan Winograd who states otherwise, it is my opinion that there certainly IS an overpopulation crisis of dogs and cats in the US and Canada.  My name is Cheryl Jewhurst and for the last several years I have immersed myself in the world of shelter animal rescue networking online using email, facebook and a myriad of other e-tools working to save these homeless but otherwise innocent animals.  With a pretty decent Facebook contact list of over nearly 5000 people, each of us with the common goal of “saving one until there are none”, I have experienced the thrill of what this phrase truly represents.  If not for me, I know of at least one dog that would be dead and our world would have been a whole lot sadder and darker without Kuma in it.  I am proud to say it was me who made sure she didn’t die alone and homeless.

But that is only one dog.  There are literally millions of equally beautiful and loving dogs (and even more cats) just like Kuma dying every single week by lethal injection, heartstick or worse, gas chambers.  And there are literally thousands of shelter animal rescuers who quietly but bravely go into  the shelter every week hoping to save as many as possible from the Friday night cull.  Because for every one we can save, there are thousands we couldn’t and we weep constantly for them.  Shelter animal rescuing is brutal and not for the weak of heart.  There are way too many homeless animals and not enough animal rescuers, foster homes or forever homes.

While I am a completely committed No-Kill supporter, it is a MYTH to continually claim that there is no overpopulation crisis.  There are not enough new adopters or foster homes.  There are way too many litters being born for the animal rescuers to keep up with. There are far too few shelter directors and local bureaucrats who are unwilling to explore new and in most cases, already proven to be successful, non-lethal means of animal control.  Veterinarians do not have a vested interest in sponsoring and supporting Spay Neuter programs, the key element of finally getting a handle on this crisis and gaining a foothold.  It is a nearly impossible uphill journey to make it to a point where there is no more slaughtering of homeless dogs and cats

euthanized-dogsNo…unfortunately, the only current solution to the crisis at a majority of animal control “shelters” (for complete lack of a better term) is to kill the excess animals in order to make space for the next wave to arrive. Animals in kill shelters are usually given a maximum of 7 days to find new homes before being “slated” for the Friday night cull.  But is it right to blame the shelters when their mandate is they must take every animal surrendered?  Over 9 million animals are slaughtered. Dogs and cats that would otherwise be treasured family members.  Imagine that if you can.

Shelter Animal Rescuers across the North American continent spend countless hours and dollars out of their pockets rescuing animals on death row in kill shelters. Pulling a dog or cat from the clutches of death only minutes before the needle, gas chamber or heartstick would have ended the animal’s life is not unheard of and happens more often than not.  Constantly working to find foster homes or better yet, a forever home, for just one more dog or cat is a 24/7 way of life and doesn’t take holidays or weekends off.  Vet bills, boarding fees and gas expenses can really start to add up if you’re saving even only one dog.  It is an emotional rollercoaster that once committed to, it is nearly impossible to ever walk away from.

ARCNA was born from my deep desire to serve the Animal Rescuing Community by providing it’s members a “water cooler” to stop and take a break at.  ARCNA would like to be the voice of the shelter animal rescuer and invites all to join up and be heard.  If you have something to say and would like to see it published here on the ARCNA site, please send your email to me here

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here at ARCNA are the individual views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views & opinions of every animal rescuer. Discussion is welcomed and encouraged.