This blog is a little different in that the body of this blog is not written by me but rather by a well-known spay/neuter advocate back in 2015. I have been granted permission to use this here. The author has asked to remain unnamed in hopes that the insight into the words here will have more impact that way.
When I first read these words, they hit home. Little credence was given to them back then. This isn’t a new problem. It goes back to 2015 or earlier.
“The so-called “NoKill” movement needs to be renamed the “Mission Accomplished” movement in honor of the “Mission Accomplished” speech delivered by U.S. President George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Bush stated in the speech that the war in Iraq was finished. That was over twenty years ago. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, occurred after that speech.
Casualties are now mounting in the sheltering world as a result of the unrealistic attitude that “there is no pet surplus” or that “more adoptions are the answer to ending euthanasias.” When shelters slam their doors in the face of people needing to relinquish their pets, often due to circumstances beyond their control, including foreclosures, evictions, homelessness, old age, and terminal illness, where do they go?
Where DO they go????
This is the big question that the “Mission Accomplished” folks refuse to answer or even acknowledge. Where do they go? To the streets? Dumped on rural roads? In the woods? On Craig’s List with fingers crossed? To the local hoarder?
It is convenient to say that would-be relinquishers “could do more” to rehome or keep their cats or dogs, but the animals’ guardians have usually already called everyone they know to rehome their pets. People in desperation are increasingly turning to hoarders to take their animal––a fate usually worse than death.
We applaud the efforts that some shelter staff make to keep pets in homes. But dogs and cats may live 15 years or more, a long time for any shelter to subsidize food and vet care. And if any shelters are now giving animals to homes that cannot or will not care for them, they are complicit in seriously worsening the problem.
I see the problem as an unfinished war on homelessness for companion animals. That war is not over, no matter what people may wish to hear or think. That war will go on until the see-saw is balanced: one or two kittens or pups, cats or dogs for every good forever home. That balance is the true end to the war.
We were getting close: we went from 12 million shelter euthanasias in 1990 to fewer than three million in each year since 2011. But real progress has stalled, despite rising “live release rates,” as more animals are finding “no room at the inn.” There are far too many horror stories.
If we are brutally honest with ourselves and each other, we will not reduce shelter euthanasias by shutting doors and not returning calls; we will do so by reducing litters. That can be done––probably in three to five years by pouring far more resources into spay/neuter programs and clinics. It can be done faster if people will spay or neuter all cats, mixed breed dogs and pit bulls by five months of age, before they can possibly produce litters.”
The situation we are now in is NOT the sole result of Covid. I can only wonder where we would be today if we had dedicated ourselves to spay/neuter as the author stated. Instead, Managed Intake was chosen and sold to shelters. Mission accomplished? Depends on what the “mission” was.
Beth Frank is founder/president of Community Cats United, Inc, Fixfinder and Proactive Animal Sheltering. Beth has spent endless hours researching animal sheltering and analyzing shelter data from all over the US, including over 400 shelters. Click here to follow Proactive Animal Sheltering on Facebook.
Community Cats United, Inc. is a CommUNITY of over 96,000 including in all 50 US states and 127 countries.