The true heart of theproblem is human behavior --behavior that closes each door, until the one remaining, for millions of animals, is: the kill door.
The heart of the problem is the fact that the human animal is self-centered to such an extreme, a life is judged unworthy, and unwanted, for--the most flimsy ofreasons. "We are moving; we don't like the hair; too noisy; too needy; tooaggressive, wrong color, too"--whatever.
The problem is entirely the human element, of course. The shelter is simply trying to cope in ways that, Iagree, often strike one as demented, with the problems created by people inall walks of life whose priorities no longer, for whatever reason, includethe animal they once desired. The animals they take to the shelters inimpossibly huge numbers. And leave there. Leave there, knowing they willbe killed. For space. Because one cannot house them all; cannot give themall a new life. Because, there are millions.
That's the heart of the problem: the people. Not the shelters.
So, while some progress will be made attacking shelters for their killpolicies, the real flaming arrow should be blazing in another directionentirely. But--where, exactly, when there are so many appropriate targets?The pet industry. Yes, certainly they deserve a cannonball volley for theendless breeding tortures and the whole sales pitch that comes out the otherend: the puppies, the kittens, the chicks, the millions of parentlessbabies snatched away from their nurturing parents and placed, so wrongly,into--cages. And eventually--again, so wrongly--into human hands. The human hand pays the money, and in return, they get the life.
There seems tobe an insatiable craving for babies, and yet, I never look at a baby animalwithout seeing the parents who mourned the theft. The babies are a product:it's big business, selling lives, and it's big business in associatedindustries that market all the bells and whistles that go with that dearbaby, the toys, beds, food, accessories, the groomers, the trainers, theboarding facilities, the vet link--yet another industry--it just goes on andon. Powerful interests, indeed, and they don't want this industry thatendlessly puts all the dogs and cats and birds and reptiles and smallanimals in the shelters and rescues and sanctuaries, when they becomeadults--they don't ever want that industry to go away. It's a living toogood to waste.
And so laws never seem to change to truly protect animals, frompeople--their main acknowledged threat--because all of these industries joinforces to make sure people crafting the laws don't go too far, don't get toocarried away, with animal protection. With passing laws that will impingeon human rights, the right to own animals and essentially do what one wantswith them. The rights of people who buy industry products and pay forindustry services. Moderation, please, in regulating the pet and animalindustries. Touchy subject with legislators everywhere.
I support No Kill shelters. I don't blame Kill shelters. I blame thepeople who bring the animals to those shelters, the industries that providethose animals, the politicians who look the other way. I blame humantolerance for unimaginable cruelty--something Michael Vick understands, sowell--the blood and screams of the dogs all tidied up now--the past, yes?Gotta go now--game time!
I blame all the industries who conspire to keepthings exactly as they are--with the main theme being: animals as aproduct. I blame the society that supports these industries, and demandsthese animals, all new and shiny even as millions languish in cement andsteel cages, begging a new home.
I realize: all shelters have a limit,space-wise and resource-wise. I realize: there aren't enough good homesout there for all the adults, and even babies, who are born and unwanted.I've taken in, myself, both dogs, cats, and birds--all turned loose to fendfor themselves. They are desperate and they are suffering and they areusually, very sick.
So, when No-Kill shelters turn animals away forspace--where do they go? What do people do with them? You can figure itout. Kill or No-Kill, the animal loses for many related reasons, and whileit feels great to have a target--the Kill Shelters--they are, in fact, NOTthe essential problem. They are simply, the end result.
Humans are, everystep of the way, the problem.
Because a huge number of humans aregreedy--both those who sell the babies, and those who must have that cutelittle bundle. They lack empathy. They lack compassion. They aremotivated by--convenience.
Too many humans have no problem at allcontrolling, and destroying, an animal's life. Too many humans are capableof pretense. Too many humans delude themselves. Too many humans: atheart, just don't really care. About the eventual fate of animals once intheir care.
Oreo. Poor, dear Oreo. Judged for her fears, judged for her anger. Neverjudged for what was in her heart. An inconvenience--aggressive dogs are aninconvenience, no matter what causes their aggression. Dangerous tohumans--an ironic conclusion, certainly, in Oreo's case. But no matter:Oreo must go.
The ASPCA could have helped Oreo, and at the same time,gotten an important message to the public about just how twisted the livesof animals can become--because of humanity. They could have gotten the evenmore important message out there: and we must help these animals who areour victims. That is, in fact, our responsibility to these animals--to helpthem.
Instead the message is: just kill them all. Terrible, yes--butjust one aspect of a very large, very convoluted problem that is not beingaddressed at its source: the pet trade and related industries. The lackof appropriate regulation. The lack of laws. The lack of responsibilityand compassion and empathy by a large part of human society, which in fact,makes all of the above problems, issues: a society that eats animals, usesanimals, only wants animals living with them that get with the program, andeven those, are always--expendable.
Move mountains to save the helpless fawn; shoot the adult deer. The humanelement. Prognosis for change: not good.So, the life and death of Oreo--yet another step backward. One that couldhave gone forward, for Oreo, and for perhaps, many animals. But--onceagain, human arrogance, human stubborn behavior, human lack of an embracingof the responsibility owed this dog, to give her a chance--a lack of evenseeing it that way--well, bottom line: Oreo was killed.
The ASPCA deservesa flaming arrow, yes, for setting such a terrible example, for being ananimal rescue organization that clearly lacks a beating heart. Butagain--where is it Oreo came from?Where so many come from. Before the window, the crazed person who flungher, before the ASPCA, Oreo was a baby: she trusted, she expected to benutured, she expected to be loved, by her mother, by something, by someone.All normal expectations, but, in this world so controlled now, byhumans--she expected too much.
For Oreo, it was luck of the draw and likemillions of other individuals, Oreo got dealt: an uncaring human hand.
Things CAN change--there are small victories, more and more. But directyour angst where it will do the most good--at the beginning of the chain ofevents. Not at the end result: the so-called, shelters, their policies,their mistakes. Warehousing unwanted animals is not the answer. It willnever be the answer. Shelters are a symptom. The human element is theproblem, and it's diseased.
Go for the tumor, the cancer--hard as that maybe in a world where so many will do anything--anything--to make a buck.Unite, focus and go for it. The source, the root, the disease. Go forlaws, go for regulations. Demand change. We have to continually attack thepet industry--and animals as food and clothing and lab experimentationindustries--even as we try to open people's hearts and minds to animals asindividuals who experience life much as do we--because that part of thesolution is critical: human understanding of animals as sentientindividuals.
The task is huge. The issue: focus. Unrelenting focus onthe heart of the problem: the uncaring human element. The unaware humanelement. The greedy, self-centered, cruel human element--and this goes forcitizens everywhere--as well as the animals as products industries who caterto their unrealistic whims. A daunting task--but there is, in fact, so muchthat's horrifying to expose.
A daunting task, but not, even in this darkhour, a hopeless one. Focus--it's essential. People do become aware. Andpeople do change.We became aware. We changed. And now we must truly focus, all together, onthe very heart of the matter.
Linda Brink Director,
Sunnyskies Bird & Animal SanctuaryWarwick,