Saturday, January 24, 2009

Goals and Ideals Vs. Reality

I have been critical of the public message that New York City is "on the road to no kill" and will in fact, be no kill by "2015."

I don't see how this can realistically occur in light of the constant and overwhelming Pitbull problems we have in NYC, as well as serious and ever present cat overpopulation and dumping problems.

We simply cannot rescue or adopt our way out of these crises.

I have been asked to make "constructive suggestions" on what can be done to address these issues.

I believe for starters, we must always strive to be as HONEST and DIRECT with the public and media as humanly possible.

Sure, we would all like to see a day when our great city might become "no kill" of "reasonably" adoptable animals. But, such is a GOAL and an IDEAL we all strive for, NOT a REALITY that can happen any time soon in light of the large and serious obstacles to those goals we face.

I believe HUMANE EDUCATION in the inner city schools is a MUST if we hope to "reach the kids" before they learn their attitudes towards animals on the streets or in dysfunctional homes.

That is #1 and until this occurs, I don't see any end to the cycle of breeding, abusing and dumping animals -- particularly Pitbulls on our city streets or in our animal shelters.

Secondly, I believe we need some type of legislation to address the problem. I do not favor a "ban" on a particular breed of dog as such would punish responsible owners of the breed. But, why not a mandatory SPAY/NEUTER law for Pitbulls and/or Rottweilers? This would be designed to ONLY target those breeding and/or abusing these dogs as opposed to those people adopting them. Normally, mandatory spay/neuter proposals don't go anywhere as they raise the ire of the breeding industry. But, if only targeted towards the one or two breeds flooding our shelters, perhaps it might stand chance of passage?

Thirdly, we were promised shelters in the Bronx and Queens many years ago. That has still not occurred. We can claim we are only euthanizing "sick or vicious" animals, but the facts are very different. As long as shelters are short on cage space and animals are only allotted days to find rescue or adoption, then sneezes or shyness will serve as rationalizations to kill thousands of otherwise adoptable animals every year.

The cat problem is quite different than the dog issue and this is where we need to be very honest and direct in pleading with the public at large for greater responsibility and care towards cats. The promises of "no kill" I believe has mostly damaged cats as the public no longer perceives the URGENCY in saving these animals and more often than not, now demand "kittens, purebreds or declaws" for adoption. Many people now buy these animals from breeders, completely ignoring the need to save any cats at all. Why should they? They believe all cat killing problems have been solved.

The public needs to be made aware how many thousands of loving, adoptable cats (and yes, kittens) are currently going down in our shelters ever year.

Any failures to neuter these animals or actions to buy cats, rather than adopt result in certain and unjustifiable death for hundreds of these animals every week.

No, we have not solved our cat overpopulation and dumping crisis. (If anything, it has gotten worse.) And no, it is not attributable to "climate change." Such is to simply deny the reality that most cats arriving at city shelters are previously owned pets rather than feral strays.

Any incentives we can put into place to motivate people to neuter their animals, particularly Pitbulls and cats need to be implemented.

For example, what if the ASPCA or NSAL approached APPLE and requested a donation of several thousand IPODS to be given out to young people bringing in their Pitbulls or cats for neutering?

Is that "bribing" people to do the right thing? Sure. But, I think it would also be a good thing and probably result in some favorable media coverage for both Apple and the shelters.

These are a few of my ideas for starters. But, the most important is HONESTY with the public.

There is a difference between goals and ideals vs. reality.

The challenges we currently face are huge and will not be solved with wishing thinking and "positive spins."

As Dr. Phil is famous for saying, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."

It's time we started to acknowledge the dire facts and plea with the public for greater help, engagement and responsibility.

Only then can the dreams and ideals eventually become the reality. -- PCA


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