Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Playing the Shelter/No Kill Blame Game

The "irresponsible public" that shelters so much blame for their killing, is the same public who has made it possible for other shelters to become no kill.  Shelters are blaming YOU, for their deaths, for killing healthy and treatable animals with YOUR tax dollars. -  Nathan Winograd

One of the basic tenants from Nathan Winograd's book "Redemption" is the repeated claim of shelters blaming YOU for the killing done in your public shelters.  It is common for shelter managers to explain away the number of dogs and cats killed by placing blame on the "irresponsible public" that breeds indiscriminately, fails to spay/neuter their pets and/or violates various local animal ordinances.  A case could be made that any pet owner who's pets end up at the shelter are indeed "irresponsible" pet owners.

Shelter managers are NOT blaming "responsible" pet owners for having to kill their pets because as a responsible pet owner WE DON'T ALLOW our pets to be in a public kill shelter in the first place.  It's also fair to say that those who show an interest in shelter reform or even an interest in the "No Kill" movement by nature are not "irresponsible" in providing care for their pets but are blatantly responsible in all aspects of caring for their pets.  Shelter managers are NOT blaming US for the deaths of dogs and cats at our community shelters but are rightfully placing the blame where it belongs - with those pet owners who are NOT responsible.

Properly put in perspective, "irresponsible" pet owners and "irresponsible" breeders are responsible for the dogs and cats entering our shelter - responsible pet owners and responsible breeders are not.

Winograd goes on to state "in communities which have ended the killing of savable animals, it is the public which made the difference: in terms of adoptions, volunteerism, donations, foster care, and other community support."

Is this statement even remotely accurate in explaining the "No Kill" revolution?  One could argue that those same irresponsible pet owners/breeders who are part of the equation that drives intake numbers are NOT going to represent any "difference" in terms of adoptions - what responsible rescue group or shelter manager would adopt out any dog or cat to someone with a history of being an irresponsible pet owner?  Nor will we see huge numbers of irresponsible pet owners volunteering their time or money either and who in their right mind would trust an irresponsible pet owner with the enormous responsibility of fostering a shelter pet?

What Winograd does point out (in Redemption) "These (No Kill) communities have proved that there is enough love and compassion in every community to overcome the irresponsibility of the few."

This statement seems to contradict his earlier statement releasing the public of all blame in shelter killing.  The fact is, in order to successfully move from high kill to no kill a huge part of the solution lies in educating those pet owners who might have been "irresponsible" in the direction of becoming responsible pet owners by providing critical services including low cost spay/neuter programs, pet retention services, micro chipping and licensing programs that return more lost pets to their owners and expanding the reach of low cost vaccination programs as well.  In effect, a community evolves towards killing less by educating it's citizens on becoming more responsible with their pet ownership.

Thus, Winograd's statement "So we need to put to bed, once and for all, the idea that dogs and cats = animals most Americans now consider cherished members of their family - need to die in U.S. shelters because people are irresponsible and don't care enough about them."

In a perfect world Nathan, what we need to put to bed is the notion that all pet owners WOULD be responsible and treat their cherished pets as such.  Until we reach that Utopian state WE must continue to educate and legislate those who own and breed pets irresponsibly.  Giving out blame free passes to those who fuel our shelters and placing the burden of saving and rescuing the pets who have irresponsible owners is simply an irresponsible solution that will never work

1 comment:

  1. Every stray animal is the result of an irresponsible human. End of story. The homeless pet population and overcrowded shelters ARE the fault of the general public.