Recently I was doing some soul searching….what are my goals? What do I need to accomplish during my life? These questions inevitably lead to many more like; what can I contribute? Who am I talking to? Eventually I found myself asking how I really felt about no-kill.
If you’ve read any of my earlier work you know I’m no fan. But when I took the time to really dig deep into what it is about no-kill that makes my skin crawl, I find that the answer is not that simple.
In order to understand it better I needed to define no-kill.
What is no-kill? Technically
• It was a rally cry from San Francisco stating that; “euthanizing for space needs to end”
• To the average citizen it means no longer euthanizing for space – for overpopulation
But as time passed and others jumped onto the bandwagon with their own agenda’s, a multitude of additional meanings came forth:
• Division in the industry
• Heavier burden on city/county governments
• Quantity of life being held higher than quality of life
• Finger pointing and blame
• Private (-vs- Government)
• Save a Few – Ignore the Rest
• New school (-vs- Old school)
What I realized was that my confusion was due to the different meanings of the word/movement. I do what I do because I worked in a shelter, I helped take the lives of happy, healthy dogs and cats because we couldn’t get them into a home before another needed the space. I do what I do because I want to help end the need for and practice of euthanizing animals for space. So in theory I subscribe to the technical definition of no-kill.
But unfortunately it’s not that simple. The other meanings listed above have come about due to what no-kill has become. And when I consider those things, I find it easy to list those items in no-kill I’m against:
• Using the word kill to describe an animal shelter is wrong – Highlighting an outdated and terrifically unpopular strategy is shortsighted
• It is being preached loudest by a man who makes arguments by ignoring key facts and milestones and who casts blame at the people – Blame never works – and if the argument is valid there’s no reason to ignore the truth
• Every “successful” one is some form of limited admission – I believe in open-admission animal sheltering – Every animal deserves a safe haven
• I believe in Quality over Quantity – Animals should NOT be made to suffer (or live out their lives in a shelter type atmosphere) because we want to keep our conscious clear
This shouldn’t surprise us. If the audience is the general public then no-kill = not euthanizing for space. But it would be interesting to run a similar vote in and among the sheltering community and see the difference. My bet is that it would be more in favor of No – since to them no-kill = division, animosity and little help for the constantly incoming.
What I’ve realized is that I need to temper my reaction to no-kill based on the individual I’m talking to. For example; if I’m speaking with an individual at the grocery store and they state they hope we go no-kill – my old response of “Not me. There’s too many problems with it” would be better said to a volunteer within animal welfare movement. For the average person (aka the woman at the grocery store) I will work on re-directing. “Oh, I know we all want there to be a day when there’s a home for every one of them. Do you adopt from the shelter?”
After all no-kill is not an answer. The answers are (as they’ve always been…)
• 80% of the dog and cat population in a community altered
• A solid portion of the community adopts animals from the shelter
• The community values the animals they share their homes with