Nobody likes to watch those public service announcements about adopting shelter animals. They show us pitifully dirty and sick dogs and cats sitting mournfully alone in tiny cages, rows upon rows of them. We are told it is up to us to save them and it is. The question is how we go about it and the answers are many.
There are two types of animal shelters that are run by two types of organizations. Animal rescues are either facilities which will humanely euthanize any animal which has not been adopted within s certain time frame or they are a no-kill animal rescue which means that they will keep the animal indefinitely until it is adopted, although they will euthanize an animal that is too sick or aggressive. Both types of shelters are either privately run through the city or county they reside in and are funded by taxpayer dollars.
Facilities, which put a timeline on an animal’s life, are not necessarily the bad guys. When they work cooperatively with other local shelters to place animals that are adoptable it greatly reduces the number of animals they have to put down. In additions, when they have programs in which medical treatment is available as well as training for animals with behavioral disorders they are much more likely to find homes for them.
In the case of feral cats there is an adoption called TNR, standing for trap, neuter, and release, which has been very successful although it is rarely a low cost program. Many of these cats can then be released as barn cats, which can be very beneficial in rural communities in keeping the rodent population down.
No-kill animal rescues sound great. Nobody enjoys putting down a healthy animal but these facilities can sometimes be crueler than their counterpart. Many a hoarder has been created with the intention of running a private no-kill facility. In these cases, too many animals are taken in without the know-how to get them adopted out. Animals end up in cramped cages with no human interaction and no medical care. In unsanitary conditions exist, disease will spread rapidly and once healthy animals will end up sick and neglected.
One thing that is for certain, whether the facility is no-kill or not, the type of organization that’s running it makes a big difference. According to Nathan Winograd, author of “Redemption- The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution In America”, private shelters can be wonderful granted they are well funded and have plenty of cages available.
Some of the issues that arise with all of these animal rescue groups, according to A.J. Demers of Yahoo Voice, is the lack of interest in adoption these animals. There are several reasons why these problems arise. Many agencies adoption policies are too stringent and, at times, will turn away people for unfounded reasons. Communities’ regulations can also be an issue with limits on the number of pets a household may have. Elderly pets and those with health conditions or aggression are very difficult to find homes for as well. Demers believes that shelters having Internet presence is beneficial.
The PETA organization, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has some wonderful ideas for creating a successful animal rescue program. Surprisingly though, they are not pro-“no kill” shelters because they believe unwanted animals end up being “warehoused” in cruel conditions when it would be more merciful to humanely euthanize them. They do advocate the TNR programs and also encourage greater community outreach and volunteerism.
The bottom line is that we can’t save all of our homeless pets as much as we would like to. We must consider their quality of life when these decisions have to be made. It is far better to humanely euthanize these animals than it would be to let them live out their remaining years in a cage, alone and without proper care or love. Just like us, they deserve to live and die with dignity and respect.