Saturday, October 17, 2015

An epidemic of ignorance

Most people in America, and much of the rest of the world, recognize that there is a serious  problem with over crowded animal shelters everywhere. Shelters are overflowing and most of the animals who end up in a shelter never get out. Those of us in animal rescue are acutely aware of this. We also understand that conditions in many of these shelters are deplorable. The holding areas are terrible and the shelter employees  are uncaring and even cruel. Animals are frequently killed because of limited space and sometimes for no discernible reason at all. I've heard of shelter animals being killed as retaliation because the shelter received complaints. The number of shelter horror stories is unbelievable. Animal rescuers and many other concerned people would like to change this.
 We hear a lot about the need for shelter reform, even efforts to make America a no kill nation. Is this a possibility? Can we achieve a no kill nation here or anywhere else for that matter? The answer is no. It is not possible, for many reasons. The number one reason no kill is impossible is the shear number of ignorant or uncaring people. Of course we don't like to think that about our fellow man, but sadly it's true.
 The biggest problem facing us is simple overpopulation. People don't spay and neuter their pets. The reasons why are numerous. The cost is too high, it's too hard to find a low cost clinic. Simple selfishness is often to blame, "I just can't do that to my pet." "I just want one litter." I think we've all heard these kinds of stories. The number of unwanted pets born each year is staggering.
The next biggest problem we see is animals that are not properly cared for. They are never vaccinated or given vet care. We see them running loose everywhere, getting in garbage, chasing other animals, often emaciated and unhealthy. Some of these animals actually have homes, they are not strays. In the area around my house dead dogs in or on the side of the roads are a common sight. They are hit by cars all the time. I don't live near a major highway or a heavily trafficked area. I live on a rural two lane road. The dogs are dying this way because people dump them in the woods or refuse to restrain them on their property. They run loose and get hit, or picked up by animal control and taken to a shelter.The other part of this particular equation is that many people don't even try to avoid hitting them. Animals lives just don't matter to many people. 
We see evidence of just how little value is placed on the lives of animals everywhere we look. It is in the over filled shelters. It is seen in the inhumane "euthanasia " methods used in many so called shelters.It is in the number of dead animals seen on roadsides everywhere. The abused, neglected, starving animals seen around the world are all irrefutable proof that there is not enough human caring and compassion in the world to hope for a system of no kill shelters anywhere. Until the attitudes of humans change we will continue to see shelters overfilled with unwanted animals that have found themselves there by many different means, none of which is the fault of the animals. 
Shelter reform is needed without a doubt,  but humanity reform is needed even more desperately.