One of the key issues on ARCNA’s list of goals is shelter reform.
Until the day we can eliminate them entirely, animal shelters provide a haven for lost, abandoned and homeless animals. Or at least that is what they are supposed to do. Unfortunately, animals shelters across the nation have become like prisons to these animals and a death sentence to most of them. Shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy adoptable dogs and cats in the US and Canada. Depending on who you ask, 5-11 million animals are killed in shelters every year. I will explore those numbers in later posts but for now I can state unequivocally that even the least of these numbers is way too many.
In the North America, there are what are called no-kill shelters, almost no-kill shelters and kill shelters. Let there be no mistake, every shelter does a certain amount of killing. For animals too sick and injured to be humanely treated and for dogs too aggressive for redemption, the only humane way to resolve their issues is to euthanize them. There are those who feel even this is too much killing however I cannot condone prolonging the life of a terminally ill or injured animal just to keep the no-kill rate at 100%. So called aggressive dogs, on the other hand, is a discussion for another time.
The kill shelters are the ones that I will be focusing your attention on in future blogs under this category. There are over 5000 animal shelters in the US alone and most of them are kill shelters. Not only will I be addressing the fact that they kill perfectly healthy adoptable animals the method of killing will also be highlighted. In the animal rescue community, the majority believe that until we can achieve 100% no kill, the only humane method of killing homeless animals is lethal injection. There are too many shelters who are still using gas chambers and heart sticks to kill these animals and both of these methods are cruel, inhumane and completely unacceptable.
Please note that in none of my posts when I am referring to healthy adoptable animals being killed by animal shelters will I use the terms “euthanized” or “put to sleep”. These animals are killed or destroyed. Plain and simple. Sick and injured animals who are incurable are the only time I will use the word “euthanized”.
Some kill shelters are not only guilty of processing homeless animals “in through the front door and straight out the back” with little or no chance to be re-homed, but are also guilty of acts of cruelty and abuse while the animals are in their care. Stories of dogs being kicked, tossed and abused with catch poles are plentiful and horrifying. Shelter workers who care nothing for animals and who have received little to no training in animal care are being entrusted to provide for the welfare of these defenseless victims who cannot speak for themselves. I am no way saying all shelter workers are animal abusers! I know some who are angels on earth and are the animal’s only chance to receive loving words and a gentle hand before being killed for space. How they do the job day in and day out is beyond me because I definitely could not. But there are other shelter workers who should not be working with animals in any way, shape or form and shelter reform includes eliminating these people from the payroll and replacing them with properly trained, caring people whose only priority is the well being of the animal they are charged with taking care of.
In all cases, it is not the shelter workers who are to blame for conditions at animals shelters across North America. The blame lies squarely in the lap of shelter directors who refuse to acknowledge that their way of doing things is cruel and inhumane and who also refuse to hear, learn or embrace a better way. In some cases, such as the Robeson Animal Shelter in St. Paul, NC, even the shelter director’s hands are tied to a great extent by the bureaucrats and politicians who oversee the animal sheltering system in their counties or jurisdictions. Corruption, greed, positioning and conflict of interest stories run amok and the welfare of the homeless animal isn’t even on the radar of what these pinheads care about.
I speak for myself as well as the facilitator of ARCNA when I state that only a No-Kill Nation is acceptable for the future of our homeless animals. Shelters who refuse to embrace programs and procedures to work towards this goal will be fodder for this blogger’s wrath in days to come and I will show no mercy. The killing must stop and only the people who cast votes to elect those in charge of the animal sheltering system can demand that it be stopped.
Until next time.