Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stop. Please. Stop.

Today is Blog the Change for Animals. Bloggers worldwide are coming together to make a change for animals. And there are some great posts out there! Some share the efforts that are being done to make a difference for animals. Others offer tips on simple things you can do to help make a difference. I hope you take the time to read all the posts in this hop. My submission, however, is going to be a little different. I'm asking people to stop doing things. In my roles of animal control officer and active member of the animal community, I see well-meaning people do things that are actually hurting the cause.
  
  • Stop with pathetic hard luck stories. Everyday I have people tell me that they don't want get a shelter pet because they can't deal with an animal that has issues. Truth is, the big issue that most of those animals have is simply a bad previous owner. A recent study from Petfinder.com discovered that most pets are surrendered for reasons that have nothing to do with the animal. Others are in the shelter because they got lost -- without any form of ID -- and their people never found them. But if all Joe Public ever hears about shelter animals comes from that Humane Society/Sarah Mclachlan commercial, what is he suppose to think?
    Instead of "Poor Sadie spent the first years of her life living in a cold backyard and forced to have litter after litter before her heartless owners abandoned her." How about "Sadie is a 3-year old girl was a great smile. She loves car rides, belly rubs and a good game of fetch. She's looking for someone with a strong throwing arm and a bucket of tennis balls." Which dog would you rather bring home?
  • Stop assuming every animal was abused by it's previous owner. Some animals -- like some people -- are just shy and sensitive by nature. Some were just poorly socialized. Of course your pet flinches when you yell and raise your fist over your head. I would too! You're being scary and irrational. And here's the best part about dogs: they live in the now. Even if a dog was abused, he's more likely to move on if you stop dwelling on it.
  • Stop sending out the graphic pictures. No I don't "need to see them." Seriously. STOP
  • Stop with the judgmental guilt trips. Just because someone isn't doing what you're doing doesn't mean that they don't care. For example, I don't foster. I'm a horrible foster mom and have kept all three foster animals they came into my house. (I don't have room for any more.) I do, however, spend a great deal of time investigating animal cruelty/neglect complaints and educating people on animal welfare. Others may transport, or clean cages, or raise funds, or donate professional services (i.e. photography, landscaping, graphic design). We all have different talents and available free time. It's better for everyone -- especially the animals -- if you focus on what people are doing instead of what they aren't.
  • Stop asking for money. All. The. Time. A while back I donated $100 to a local spay/neuter organization. Since then I have received a letter requesting money every 4 to 6 weeks. And this 4-page letter is always accompanied by graphic photos and over-the-top sob stories. Total turn off. And I wonder: how much of my donation has been spent on soliciting more donations? To be honest, I don't even open the envelopes anymore; they go straight to the trash.
  • Stop using logical fallacies. There are ads out there that claim just one female cat and her kittens can lead to the births of over 2 million cats in eight years. Mathematically that may be possible -- if all the kittens live, if there is an equal amount of males to females, and if the same amount of kittens are born every time with the same male/female ratio and there's a food source large enough to support all these cats. But realistically we all know it's not possible. And when you use flawed logic and inaccurate statistics people call bullshit and stop listening to what you have to say.
  • Stop saying "kill shelter." Its inflammatory and does nothing to help the animals. In my city we have two main shelters: an open admissions shelter (a.k.a. "kill shelter") and a limited admissions shelter (a.k.a. "no-kill shelter"). Our "no-kill shelter" is a privately run Humane Society. Because it is limited admissions it only takes in what it wants, when it wants. And it only accepts owner surrenders, not strays. If the Humane Society feels that your animal is not adoptable or there isn't a place to put it you are sent to the City pound. The City pound is an open admissions shelter. They are mandated by law to take in every animal that is surrendered or picked up running at large. This includes the old ones, the sick ones, the mean ones, and the newborns without mothers. And the Pound has to accept these animals regardless of whether or not there is a cage to put them in. Unfortunately, not everything is adoptable. Some animals have severe health or behavioral issues. Sometimes foster parents willing to feed day-old kittens round the clock are unavailable. And sometimes cage space can't be found for a hundred extra animals. When the shelter runs out of options, animals die. The vet techs who work at the municipal shelter mourn every animal they have to euthanize. Vilifying a shelter, using acrimonious labels and calling the people that work there "Puppy Killers" doesn't help the animals at all. In fact, it turns the public against these open admission shelters which reduces their adoption rates, and in turn increases euthanasia rates. [P.S. The "no-kill" shelters do kill animals with health and behavioral issues. However, if these animals are labeled "unadoptable" then they don't count. Read the fine print.]
Animals are a very emotional issue. And animal advocates are a passionate group of people. But sometimes in our zeal we become short-sighted. Judgmental. Offish. Even . . . Fanatical. DON'T STOP CARING! But maybe step back and see how we're viewed by the rest of the world. I would hate to think that an animal missed out on a loving home because my fervor scared someone off. How about you? -- K

< -- Promise NOT to be this guy and then check out the posts below.