Sunday, December 7, 2008

Forever a Dream, Unless......

(Picture Left: "Lady" Throwaway Mama Pitbbull. Loving, gentle and sweet. Missing her babies. Lady was on Euth list yesterday, but saved at the last minute by "Stray from the Heights." Now in boarding and awaiting foster or adoptive home. Lady is one of the very lucky ones. Rescue not the fate of most abandoned Pitbulls.)

The above link is to a video produced this past Friday on Fox News.

Special thanks and praise go to Megan Kelly, one of the anchors of the conservative leaning station who called on Thursday asking how she could help animals.

I told Ms. Kelly that while donations are the fuel and lifeblood of any shelter or rescue organization, what was even more needed was greater public awareness to the realities facing animals, shelters and rescues, as well as greater public responsibility and willingness to help on a proactive basis -- i.e. specifically, fostering.

While I talked to Megan Kelly for more than an hour over the phone, the actually news piece which evolved from that conversation the very next day was only two minutes long.

To her credit, Ms. Kelly did an amazing and very professional job in condensing into a two minute presentation, what really is a very complex and nuanced problem. (My personal biggest complain about most cable and broadcast news shows, is they merely skim issues without going into any kind of depth or examination.)

I was invited on the program and I in turn invited another rescuer from a mostly cat rescue organization to come on with me. Gisella from "Zany's Furry Friends" brought several rescued cats for showing on the program, while I brought along two of NYCA's rescued dogs.

The Center for Animal Care and Control was also invited to bring some of the shelter's animals for show, but they declined supposedly due to the shelter and I not being on the same page in terms of " public message."

(Most full service [or "euthanizing"] shelters don't like to admit publicly that they are forced to put animals to death on a daily basis.)

The "message" that has been going out publicly for almost a decade now in New York City by the major shelters and organizations is that New York was and is, "on the road to no kill" -- a message that I feel, while well intentioned, has had disastrous consequences. The message has had disastrous results, not only because it was an impossible feat in a city that lacked sufficient shelters to serve a human population of over 8 million and an estimated 5 million pets, but even more importantly because it lulled the people of New York City into a complacent mindset, thinking wrongly, that we had already "solved" our pet overpopulation and abandonment/cruelty issues.

We haven't.

The "On the Road to No Kill" message has thus had the cumulative effect of "anesthetizing the public" from the harsh realities that befall tens of thousands of pets being bred, sold, abandoned and dying in our city animal shelters every single day or on our city streets.

There was little incentive for people to "do the right thing" by neutering their pets and taking the responsibilities of pet keeping more seriously because many were under the illusion that if bringing litters of kittens or unwanted dogs and cats to the shelters all the animals would be adopted or rescued.

And yes, while much progress has been made over the last decade in shelters being able to adopt out or send to rescue most small and purebred (other than Pits or Rotties) dogs, the fact is these animals don't represent the MAJORITY of animal arriving at city shelters on a daily basis.

Cats, kittens, PitBulls, Rotties and larger mixed breed dogs DO!

And the majority of THESE animals end up dying -- if not directly from "euthanasia" in the pounds, then often due to secondary illnesses and infections acquired in the shelters.

The increase particularly of cat and kitten intakes (and subsequent deaths) over the past 5 years or so is, I believe a direct consequence of the ultimately destructive, false and misleading "no kill" message. The same could be said for the huge increase in Pitbull and large dog abandonments.

People dropping off these animals to the shelters wrongly believe the pets are all getting adopted or rescued.

The shelter meanwhile, apparently prefers to blame rises in cat intakes and deaths, to "climate change" -- a ludicrous notion when one considers most cats being abandoned to city shelters are not "feral strays," but rather cats from human HOMES.

"Denial" is not just a river in Eqypt!

And yes, so the city shelter declined to go on the Fox news program mostly because they did not want to be associated with the main message of the brief, two minute segment.

That is, that "everyday New York City shelters are forced to put down between 25 and 100 dogs, cats, kittens and puppies."

The shelter could of course argue that they normally don't have to put down small puppies. But, in fact, many of the Pitbulls destroyed are under one-year-old, an age that technically defines them as "puppies."

Many shelters and rescues would prefer to be able to avoid thinking of Staffies and Pits as even being dogs. But, the fact is they ARE dogs. -- In most cases, very loving and smart dogs.

It is of course, not fair to blame shelters for problems that humans CREATE.

It is not the shelters breeding or selling or abusing or abandoning animals.

But, it IS the shelters who are to blame for most people not understanding the TRUTH and the realties.

The cat and dog problems in shelters are in fact, very different.

Rises in cat abandonments and deaths is more attributed to the general public being mislead on the realities of adult cat adoptions in shelters.

However, because most of the dogs arriving at city shelters are now in fact, Staffies and Pitbulls, this is a very specific problem that needs to be addressed and targeted towards certain population groups in the city.

I personally believe we desperately need Humane Education programs in city schools -- particularly those in the inner city. -- We need to get to the kids, before the streets do.

I'd also like to see some famous Rap star or highly respected figure in the minority community to step forward and and say something like, "Hey, people, we need to be doing better by our pets. Too many of them are dying in our animal shelters! Spay/neuter, that's the answer. C'mon, people, we gotta do it!"

Until, some of these things are accomplished, we are forever spinning our wheels and surreptiously rushing the bodies of the dead out the back doors of our animal shelters.

The dream of "no kill" animal control shelters remains forever a dream; it's possible reality one day, not only years away, but in fact, decades. ---PCA



Tangi Adopt A Rescue said...

Thank you for posting this article with needed info about animal control.

No-kill is the way to go and the way to be successful with it is not just to say nice sounding word, but to also take the correct actions that can make it a reality. New York shelters have to follow the people that are successful with no-kill and these people use the media to educate regularly.

You are right - more info about animal control problems have to be exposed in all media on an ongoing basis.

Thank you for being one of the media outlets that is educating the public on animal control problems.

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