Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's time to take a look at accountability.

Here are two interesting articles:

Is the no-kill movement contributing to hoarding?

For a long while "no-kill" has gotten a free ride. I know some of my readers are advocates of a certain no-kill messiah, but I still have cats at my facility that have been here since the arrival of that messiah. According the no-kill mantra, that's my "fault."

So forgive me if I have a bit of an attitude. I would love to spend more time doing adoptions, but last night more cat tracks showed up at my door. We can all do BETTER, and I absolutely agree with that. But at some point, brain cells start breaking down.

Let me give an example that perhaps a lot of us can relate to.

Did you have a goldfish when you were a kid, or in college? You had that cute cheap little fish, and a bowl. Care is pretty simple. All you have to do is keep a gallon of water off to the side (to age-out the chlorine if needed), and every week, put the fish in an alternate container, clean out the bowl, add new water, and put back the fish.

For the first few weeks, you do this. One week you get busy, and the water gets murky. You are horrified and don't want your friends to see how you are neglecting the fish. You clean the bowl. But now you know the fish isn't going to die immediately with murky water. You get busy again. The weekly new-water changes stop. One day you notice the water is green. Oh my God! You clean the bowl again, feeling very guilty. But the fish survived the green water, too. So you are less concerned the next time you let the water get green.

One day, you notice a fish floating in the bowl. The low-oxygen conditions have finally killed the fish. We flush him down the toilet, feeling bad. We turn the bowl into a terrarium, which also ends up dying of neglect. The bowl gets pushed off into a corner until it gets broken or thrown away.

You have experienced the mental progression of an overwhelmed hoarder. If you, or someone you know, has killed a goldfish in this manner, you know a little tiny bit about what it's like to directly kill an animal due to purposeful neglect.


Excuses like "I've been so busy," "My parents were ill," "The kids were supposed to take care of the fish," "the pet store should have told me goldfish actually need a aerated fish tank and can live for decades" or "we really did care about our fish" don't cut it. You killed the fish, period.

All we are talking here is changing the water once a week for a simple little fish. And we wonder how people who step forward to care for countless abandoned animals can "not see that animals are dying." Oh, they can physically see it. But emotionally they don't want to see it, because it feels like they aren't capable of fixing it."

That is one reason I believe some shelter directors resort to euthanizing--not just for immediate space but to have "extra cages." I think they get a rush of relief seeing, for just a little while, a shelter that doesn't appear to be out-of-control.

ABSOLUTELY it would be better to adopt those animals out in creative ways. ABSOLUTELY it may be time for that director to move on and make space for someone who is fresh and ready to take a new step forward. But is that shelter director "evil."

Were you evil when you killed your fish?

So, how do we stop everyone from killing more fish, and more rescued pets, via this helpless neglect?


  1. Well, my original intention was to reduce supply through spay neuter, which I figured would increase demand for the cats in rescues and shelters. Supply side economics for cats. But this area was so overwhelmed in unfixed cats, it may take years and that's only if the concept "sticks" with the people who live here, as the best and most humane solution.

    I got nothing. In other words.

    So you had another "dumpee"?

    Finding homes is really hard right now around here. Some areas, however, are getting high rates of adoptions.

  2. I am in favor of No Kill. Have been since before Nathan arrived on the scene. However, I don't think No Kill is truly achievable until EVERYONE has access to free/low cost, easily accessible spay/neuter services. That includes getting 80-90% of all vets on board as well. Vets are as much of the problem as are irresponsible, uncaring and/or stupid people. There are simply too many animals and no one can keep up with all of the discards. Of course, it would be nice if people valued the lives of living, breathing animals as much as they do fetuses.

  3. I agree, Connie. Vets who are not on board yet really need to be. We have a nearby vet here who, on her own, has surgery openings for feral cats twice a week, for only $42, both males and females. She's just a small country vet. If she can do it, any vet ought to be able to. Can you imagine if every vet in the US made 6-8 s/n spaces available ultra-cheap every week? Not to mention an increasing number of s/n clinics?

  4. That would be something, Susan, if all vets made space for a few discounted spays every week. In Corvallis, the rich town 15 miles west, spays can cost hundreds of dollars. The low income, often with cars or even carriers, really are in a bind if they have a pet. And many do. Vets probably could even solicit donations to their own free or very low cost fix fund from their clients. I bet many would readily donate.

  5. I meant "without" cars, in above post. Probably obvious.

  6. I think as part of the overall "humane movement" there is more attention to these hoarding cases...I am not sure one can difinitively say that more hoarding is going on but rather more awareness of the issue of hoarding. Just as Animal Precinct brought to light the overpopulation to me (and I'm sure lots of other people) so now shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive and Animal Hoarders are bringing the issue of hoarding to light.

    I also agree that until we have a much better grasp on the free roaming cat populations through TNR and also have better laws against puppy mills and backyard breeders..we are not going to be able to fully achieve No Kill.