Last monht, the Genesee County, MI Animal Control Department Shelter made the declaration that they were going to "end routine euthanasia" at the shelter. In fact, they were so serious about the 'no kill' declaration that euthanasia there cannot take place without a court order or written instruction from a veterinarian.
However, a month into their directive, the shelter is overwhelmed with animals, turning away pets, and suffering from over-crowding.
This isn't the first time I've seen something like this happen, and no doubt won't be the last. And while I applaud the intentions of the shelter in ending the killing of animals at the shelter, their focus is wrong.
The focus should not be on ending euthanasia -- it should be on saving them all.
It's a subtle difference, but important. From my experience, the focus of "ending euthanasia" sets up a mindset of looking for space at the shelter to put more animals when they come in. "We can't kill them, so we have to find somewhere to put them". Inevitably, the result is overcrowding, lack of space, etc. Exactly what Genessee County is experiencing here.
However, when the focus in on saving them it, changes the mindset entirely. Instead of focusing on where to put the animals, the focus becomes: How do I get more adopted? How do I move more to rescue? How do I get them treated? What foster home can they stay in while they get better? How do we get more out humanely and alive?
It's a subtle difference, but an important one. And in my experience, focusing on saving a lot of lives is far more effective as a strategy than focusing on how to just not euthanize them.