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Dogs and Cats

August 9, 2015

I recently read a story about a woman who brought a litter of kittens to an animal shelter.  Her cat had just had kittens a few weeks earlier.  She was heartbroken to give them up, but she couldn’t care for them.  The attendant took the kittens into a back room of the shelter, and then returned to talk to this women.  As she was about to leave, she asked to see the kittens one more time so say goodbye to them.  The attendant told her she couldn’t do that: they were all dead by then.  Needless to say, the woman was devastated by that news.  She had not expected that at all.  Why did this happen?

I’ve also read several stories about police and the Humane Society having to remove dozens of animals in wretched condition from a house.  I’m not talking about animal breeders here.  I’m talking about people who protested that they love animals and that they took good care of stray animals.  People get trapped by a situation like this.  They truely feel compassion for strays.  Neighbors bring them stray or unwanted animals.  They can’t refuse to take them.  Soon they have so many that they can’t afford food, litter, and veterinary services for them.  They’re convinced they are doing the best they can for the animals.  It can only end badly.

It’s really a matter of economics, supply and demand.  There are many unwanted animals, too many for individual people to handle.  Some people are looking for pets, but not enough of them to account for all the unwanted animals.  Something has to happen to the surplus.

A few years ago, I went to an animal shelter run by the Humane Society to make a donation.  That’s when I found out that animal shelters have a front door and a back door.  People looking for a pet come in the front door.  They see animals on display that are waiting to be adopted by a new owner.  People bringing unwanted animals to the shelter come in the back door.  It’s much more austere, often just a counter.  They just leave the animals, and get out as quickly as possible.  They generally don’t want to know what will happen to them.

I do hear regularly about no-kill animal shelters.  They do offer pet adoptions.  They do provide care for animals that aren’t adopted.  Their cages are always full.  They deal with the surplus of uwanted animals by turning away many people who bring them in.  Even then, they are asking for donations and looking for volunteers.  They always seem to be teetering on the edge of bankrupcy.  Their hearts may be in the right place, but doing it this way isn’t going to work.

Some people are operating under an illusion.  They believe that animal shelters will find homes for all their unwanted pets.  Maybe they have to maintain this illusion in order to justify their actions.  Animal shelters don’t try to dispell this illusion.  The reality of the situation is different, though.  Animal shelters have to kill animals, sometimes a large proportion of the ones that they accept.  They do do it in a humane manner.  There’s no other way for them to provide the services that they do.  There’s just too many unwanted animals.


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