So, today I'm going to write about what appears to be a growing trend when it comes to rationalizing killing animals in the shelter - - as I've now been hit with three different examples of it just this week.
Last Friday, Nathan Winograd wrote in his blog about Proposition B in Missouri. I'm going to write a little bit more about Prop B at a later time, but there was a key element that Winograd brought up that was an issue I raised a few weeks ago -- the issue that if Prop B passes and IF it works (which is debatable), there is absolutely no plan in place for the canine victims of the closed puppy mills in the state -- and most will end up dead in the state's kill shelters (or other dogs will be killed to make room for them).
I've talked to a lot of people about this possible scenerio over the past month and have heard - unfortunately a surprising number of times -- comments along the lines of "well, if we have to kill them now, at least we won't have to kill their offspring later".
And I find myself taken aback. These comments aren't coming from cold-hearted people - they're actually coming from people who care so much about animals that they are fighting to get rid of the horrible conditions that exist in puppy mills. Yet, the idea of KILLING the animals doesn't seem all that appalling to them. Meanwhile, their logic "if we kill them now, we won't have to kill all of their offspring later" sounds rational enough -- if those were the only two options available. But they aren't. There are plenty of other options that actually involve saving the lives of the animals both now, AND later. And yet because killing has become so ingrained, many of those other options are not even considered.
The Missouri Puppy Mill issue is far from the only example of this.
On Monday I wrote a post about mandatory spay/neuter for pit bulls in Ypsilanti, MI. I noted that there were several other examples (one in my own city) where this type of legislation had been tried and led to an increase in killing of 'pit bulls' in these communities.
I then watched several discussions about Ypsilanti's ordinance having noted that killing will likely increase with the new ordinance. And I heard the same sentiment again, from multiple sources "well, even so, if we kill a few of them now, it will save us from having to kill a lot of them later when they have puppies."
Again, if those were the only two options, maybe -- but they're not the only two options. And if the whole point is to try and decrease the killing because we find it unethical to kill healthy animals, then it seems as if killing our way to less killing is even more morally wrong -- especially when there are other options. Besides, if killing a lot of animals is a method to get to no kill, it seems as if the past several decades of massive slaughter in our shelters would have gotten us to that goal a long time ago.
Then, today, Christie Keith over at The Pet Connection has a post about an ASPCA staffer who visited a shelter in Mississippi who saw a litter of sick puppies and recommended that the shelter kill the litter of sick puppies so that instead of using all of the resources necessary to care for them, they would be able to save more lives with the money if they would just 'euthanize' the puppies. Again, rational enough -- if those were the only two options available -- but they aren't.
I have just found it amazing over the past week just how ingrained the idea that killing is the only option has become within our shelter system and rescue community -- to the point that 'killing them now to save them later' has become a popular montra for a variety of topics. It doesn't have to be that way. There are other options in most cases besides killing.
Earlier this summer, Winograd did an interview with Valerie Hays that he made a statement that I think has resonated very strongly with me. It involed the point where his wife was talking about whether it was ethical to kill animals or not, and Winograd argued that he thought there were too many animals and not enough homes. She responded to him that "if we took killing off the table, human ingenuity and human compassion would find a way to make it work."
We just need to take the time to explore the other options instead of insisting that there are only two - killing now or killing later - and quit accepting 'euthanasia' as the only alternative.