On Dodo.com September 18, 2014
There's nothing closer to people than their companion pets. We're responsible for their very existence. Yet there's nothing more betraying to a dog or cat's loyalty than for them to end up at a pound to be killed in return for their unconditional love. We've been brainwashed that "killing is saving" so we kill healthy adoptable pets if there are "too many." We've never stepped outside the cage to ask what's "too many pets?" Nor do we think of alternative ways to find homes for pets without killing.
For example, there are 4.2 million people living in Los Angeles and 45,000 shelter pets killed there per year. That's only one percent of the population. Similarly, there are 316.1 million people that live in the U.S. and three to four million pets killed in pounds nationwide; that's also a little over one percent of the population. So why kill pets when we could think about housing them? Why are we the only country that has kill pounds?
Pounds don't work because:
- They're run by the health department. Their catch and kill technique is an easy and quick way to keep cities disease-free.
- Pounds manage themselves. They don't have to answer to anyone so no one enforces laws like spay/neuter laws.
- Killing doesn't lower the number of pets, instead it opens a window for puppy mills, kitten mills, pet shops, and internet backyard breeders.
- Pounds aren't "shelters"; they're a place to throw away a pet. If they never existed, people would think twice about getting a pet.
- Laws protect pounds so that they don't have to disclose facts. Like this one: there's a 50 to 99 percent chance of the animal being killed. In most pounds we've volunteered at, pets are dragged to the "bump room" unsedated, and killed with a heart stick. This isn't "humane euthanasia."
Our goal is to make shelters no-kill or to privatize them. Let's tell our local representatives that the cities would save taxes and lower pet numbers by having:
- Free spay/neuter clinics like humane free clinics using third and fourth year veterinarian students. For every tax dollar we'd spend on spay/neuter, we'd save $10 on housing, killing and disposing of pets.
- City dog trainers, since in my years of volunteering I've seen that most dogs are surrendered to pounds because they're untrained.
- TNR programs for feral cats to be trapped/neutered and the returned back to a cat colony, since 75 to 80 percent of pound killings are cats.
Let's stop the broken cycle of killing and promote volunteer-based no-kill rescues. Let's rewire the brain to a "pro-live" movement and find new, creative ways to help homeless animals. Animal rights activists should fight for the animals' right to live, not the right to kill them.