Myth: No One Wants to Kill
Photo: So-called "euthanasia" is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in animal shelters. Supporters of this form of killing like to say that no one wants to do it. Evidence suggests otherwise.
At a compassion fatigue workshop held in Bloomington, Minnesota around the year 2005, the instructor was discussing the mental, emotional and spiritual strain associated with ending the lives of pets in animal shelters. Then one of the participants raised her hand, and smiled when called on, and happily announced to the room that she "liked doing it." My mom once tried to adopt a shelter dog that was scheduled to be killed because he had demodectic mange, which is not contagious and which is highly treatable. The shelter director refused the adoption, saying the dog did not meet the shelter's criteria for "adoptable" and killed it anyway. I remember my mom screaming into the phone, "Of course he is 'adoptable' because I am trying to adopt him!"
I could go on and on and, frankly, anyone who has worked in or spent any considerable time in any of America's "traditional" [sic] animal shelters has encountered these sorts of things, though usually not quite so overt as someone gleefully announcing to a room full of people that they like killing pets. Instead, we see it in more subtle ways: the leadership refuses to make simple changes that would save lives, or kennel staff recommend "hard to handle" dogs for "euthanasia" because killing the animals is easier than taking them out for potty breaks or cleaning their kennels. I have personally seen shelter after shelter with euthanasia determination protocols that are seriously lacking and where too many members of staff are allowed to make the decision to end the life of a pet, with no real accountability on anyone's part.
The fact of the matter is that it has been known since about the mid 1990's that killing of healthy and treatable pets in shelters is optional, that it does not have to happen. It is a choice. In spite of that, more than 20 years later, many animal shelter continue to needlessly kill, and the only thing standing in their way of stopping is their own unwillingness to stop.
From a purely rational perspective, that means that people, and particularly the leadership, at those shelters would rather continue killing. If that were not true, they would stop doing it.
Over my years of working in the animal sheltering industry, I have continually heard the phrase "no one wants to kill" uttered by those making excuses for the status quo, even groups that claim to represent a No Kill philosophy. The problem with that is that it is overtly, obviously, and on the face of it, untrue and only perpetuates the killing by giving those who continue to do it political cover for doing so.
It is now 2018, and anyone in a leadership position at or over an animal shelter that continues to excuse unnecessary killing of healthy or treatable dogs and cats should probably be in a different line of work.
They continually prove that the notion that "no one wants to kill" is a total myth.