No images this time. I don’t think most of the places I’m including in this post would want their brand associated with what I have to say. I’m also not referring to parrots in this post. (Note the bold, underscored and italicized part and the fact that I types this portion right after it to bring attention to the part I just printed!!) So if you are, or belong to a parrot/avian rescue group, don’t take this post personally! My feelings about avian welfare are almost an exact opposite of domestic pet rescue.
“No-Kill” that concept just sounds right. It puts us all at ease and gives us all a warm, fuzzy feel all over. But, remember, every good has its bad, or every yin has its yang.
People like it when they hear a shelter is “no-kill”. It means that all of those cute, cuddly pets are destined to find homes or at least be cared for until they die of natural causes. How many people take a larger view though?
As a “for instance” a former, large employer of mine boasts its status as “the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country”. The concept seems sound and makes them appear very squeaky clean. People like the idea and they think anyone working towards that goal is a saint. So, exactly where’s the down side? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking there is none!
Some shelters operate as municipal facilities; they are contracted by local governments to take in stray/unwanted animals. In many cases, they are some of the only shelters in the area…. the only place for homeless animals to go. They’re legally obligated to take in every animal, therefor, they are called “Open admission” shelters. Consider these the “downside” to the no-kill shelters.
Being open admission means they need room, more room and even more room on top of that! At a certain point these places could have animals pouring out of every crevice they occupy (and some that make the front page of newspapers, do so as “hoarders”). The only viable, albeit heartbreaking solution is euthanasia.
Don’t consider them bad places because of this. They simply have no other options available.
Back to the no-kill shelters now…
How do places get lucky enough to become no-kill? It’s not luck at all. It’s careful, deliberate planning. No-kill shelters will scour local pounds and shelters for the “perfect” pets. They intentionally take the kittens, the puppies, the cute, adorable animals, or ones with heartbreaking stories they can publicize to draw in the crowd and supporters. What they ultimately end up doing is passing the buck off to the open admission shelters; the shelters that can’t pick and choose which animals they want to take in.
Is this good or is it bad? I can’t say. Yes, saving lives is always a good thing. Doing so at the expense of making others do the dirty work though, seems irresponsible. Are the shelters to blame? That’s also hard to say. If the public was aware of the larger picture and understood the consequences of overpopulating pets, open admission shelters might not receive such a bad reputation while no-kill shelters hold a saintly status in the public’s eye. In a way, it’s the general public’s fault for turning a blind eye to what’s become a necessary evil – euthanasia. Instead of addressing the issue and admitting guilt for being the ones at fault for homeless pets, we find it easier to vilify euthanasia and worship the shelters that pass the responsibility off to others.
Some of the tactics of the no-kill shelter movement:
- Ignoring requests/surrenders for the general public and local communities.
- Nitpicking animals they prefer to take, over ones they don’t want.
- Getting involved with high-profile rescues, ignoring smaller, local issues that may not receive as much publicity.
- Passing animals off to other facilities to handle or adopting to unqualified candidates to make room.
- May often be labeled as hoarders if they take in more animals than they can handle.
Again, I can’t say the no-kill shelter movement is a bad thing. On the other hand, I can’t say it’s a responsible thing either. These shelters plan ahead to make money, market and advertise their brand. They want only animals in situations that will fit in with this strategy they design. On the other hand, this gives them a lot of resources to tap into and allows them to reach a larger group of people than just a local humane society can. But, then we go back to looking at the number of animals the municipal faculties have to euthanize because the nearest no-kill facility washed their hands of the animals there and only want to use the rescue cases as PR stunts.
Is this whole thing the public’s fault, though, for not understanding or tolerating the situations we’re ultimately responsible for? It seems to become the law of averages; every no-kill shelter will have an equal open-admission one to balance the situation out. The situation doesn’t go away simply because we turn a blind eye to the helpless, desperate animals that are sent to death each day. This, perhaps, can best be summed up in one of my favorite quotes: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Note, there’s nothing about the way only no-kill shelters treat their animals… it refers to every animal.