If You Have a Problem With This You May Be Part of the Problem
Photo: Waiting lines for adoptions at Front Street Animal Shelter, in Sacramento, CA
Courtesy of The Sacramento Bee
Just before Thanksgiving a remarkable story appeared in The Sacramento Bee. A real estate business woman decided to sponsor every pet adoption from the Front Street Animal Shelter, operated by the City of Sacramento. The response to the offer was described as "epic," "unbelievable", and "inspiring." It was a real-life holiday story to rival "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" all rolled into one. People were camping out on the sidewalk in hopes of being the lucky family to take home a pet from the municipal animal shelter that they had found on the agency's web site. People waited in line for hours. And, after the first days of insanity, people kept coming. The shelter emptied of all available pets, so they brought in more from other surrounding shelters. In the first days of the promotion, hundreds of pets found new homes. And more continue finding homes today.
The story is enough to make an animal lover's heart fill to the brim, especially if they understand a bit about animal shelter adoptions and the success of these adoption promotions.
For example: many years ago, shelters often avoided these kinds of promotions out of fear that low-cost or free adoptions would result in the "wrong" people coming to adopt. But research into this topic has proven those fears to be unfounded. There is no correlation between the price a person pays for a pet and the quality of the care the pets receive afterwards. Furthermore, it has been proven over and over again that when shelters charge too much for pets, or if they are too restrictive about who can adopt, the end result is that those same shelters end up needlessly killing pets. This has been known for many years.
Yet, when the above story broke, and it was shared on Facebook, many people who call themselves advocates for animals felt a need to weigh in and share their displeasure. Here are a few worth sampling...
One category of complainers assumed that because people were lining up for free adoptions means they cannot afford a pet, like this commenter on the No Kill Nation Facebook Page.
I find it ironic that I am writing this blog on Black Friday, when people are lining up for cheap deals on everything from TV sets to iPhones; yet, some people feel a need to complain that people are also lining up to help save lives?
Another category of complainer falsely suggested the shelter was not screening adoption applicants (hint: they are) without bothering to check before commenting.
That last one about shelters not screening applicants was particularly troubling, given that nearly every shelter I know of screens adoption applications. It is also worth noting that people interested in obtaining free animals for nefarious purposes can do so any day of the week without standing in line, filling out an application, or even showing an ID. The likelihood, therefore, that the waiting lines outside the Front Street Animal Shelter are filled with serial killers seems unlikely and unsupported by anything other than uninformed emotional distress.
Animal advocates who cannot celebrate record-setting life-saving at their municipal shelter for irrational and emotional reasons are part of the problem in animal welfare. They are, no doubt, well-meaning. But, in this case, they sound like they would be hanging out outside George Bailey's house in "It's a Wonderful Life" saying, "all those people donating to help a man who probably stole the money."
On that note, I will close with a huge Thanksgiving thank you to the generous donor who sponsored all of these adoptions, and to the creative and innovative staff at Front Street Animal Shelter for doing the hard work of bringing her vision to life. Thank you all and happy holidays!