As much as we are all frustrated with the current shelter system, it’s all we’ve got – and more importantly “it’s all the animals have.”
Yesterday I found a post on facebook criticizing the LA City Shelters for the amount of animals that are being killed. Please note, I don’t use the word euthanize, as I believe these animals are being killed. The numbers are staggering, yet not that out of line with our national average – which is the most alarming part.
So… What to do?
I find the more we criticize the system without a firm solution in hand, the more we spin our wheels. The more we condemn the shelters, the less people will want to visit them, the more we talk about the depressing experience we had and the poor treatment animals receive, the more these poor animals are condemned to death. This is an inescapable death that is perpetuated by those who criticize and do nothing else.
Bound Angels has put forth several programs that work, they save lives (you can see the details of these programs on our website www.boundangels.org). There is no money in these programs, there is no pulling dogs from the shelter and adopting them out later. Our programs are geared to help the animals in the shelters – those that no one pulls out. I’m not criticizing those who rescue at risk animals from the shelters, pay enormous vet bills and then place them in loving homes. I am however criticizing those that condemn the shelters for putting down pit bulls and in the mean time pulling out young pure bred pups and adopting them out at a premium. Or worse yet, those that just criticize and do nothing else.
If we want the shelters to stop killing, it’s not just about criticizing the shelters and the breeders, it is about looking at what part we can play in the solution. Shelters, especially those in economically challenged communities need help, they need volunteers and they need them now. Shelters that are located in middle-class and upper middle class neighborhoods benefit from more volunteers and therefor have a lower kill rate and higher placement rate than those shelters in the inner city.
Slamming shelter staff, and policies is understandable if you look at the problem from the outside. “Why are they killing all of these animals?” But spend some time on the inside and you’ll see the problem first hand. People coming in, one after the other, dumping dogs, cats, kittens and puppies – and no one coming in to adopt?
The solution does lie with thinking outside of the box, working with rescue organizations, off-site adoption events, a progressive spay-neuter program, but most importantly it lies with the public’s perception of the shelter. If the shelter is seen as a good place (through our efforts), we will be able to save more animals than if we paint it with an evil brush-stroke.
So, I’m asking all of us in rescue, to get behind our egos and put a good foot forth for the animals. Make friends with someone at the shelter, find out what you can do to make the shelter system work better.
The animals who were dumped there, through no fault of their own, need us. They have no voice and no window to the outside world. They are the innocent victims, being killed while we fight a battle on the outside that will get us nowhere. Let’s join together – let’s fight together to give hope to those who need us most.
JOIN THE REVOLUTION!