Rescue Journal

ethical behavior

Carol  ·  May 27, 2007

most of us in rescue that work well with the pounds and shelters have spent years developing relationships that are respectful and effective for both sides in helping homeless animals. every group, public or private, has mandates, policies, proceedures, personalities, strengths, challenges and past experiences, good or bad in these relationships.

there are still a very few old school rescues that practice cooperation with the big stick method. "give us what we want and do it the way we tell you or we will publically beat you to a pulp." thankfully, each year there are less and less of this kind of thing. there are those with little knowledge of issues or understanding of realities and really, at best are on the fringe of rescue that believe they have the right to ask questions and demand answers which they would if they bothered to even minimally educate themselves before pissing everyone off.

there is or used to be a group in the states called "TAOS", they are/were a group that gave accreditation to shelters and sanctuaries who met their high, but achievable standards of care and practice. their website is now out of date so i am not sure if they are still functioning or not. anyway, the info is still there and really, it is a good standard for all of us to measure our practice against.

TAOS not only lists the criteria for practice issues, animal care, housing, documentation, safety issues, and quality of life...they also have a code of ethics that each accreditted sanctuary and shelter must adhere to, which includes professional responsibility for how we act, react and interact between ourselves and others within the public view. i wish i was more computer savy so i could cut and paste these guidelines and expectations so others could read and think about them too.

we are constrained and restrained in our behaviors by societal standards in our normal lives. in rescue, we believe there are no such restraints and expectations because civilization has yet to reach our embattled shores. in many respects, rescue believes that right means might and robin hood is our mentor. we believe if we shout "injustice" long and loud enough, that we will win the day. and sometimes we do, like in the case of langley, delta, coquitlam, and now the city of Richmond which have awarded their animal control contracts to animal welfare agencies.

i think in the winning of these battles, we learn somethings that we did not know the issues were not as simple as we thought. and the solutions are not only costly but not always what we had hoped and envisioned. and i think we find ourselves making choices that before we would never have ever even considered. and that is living the reality instead of just the dream.

it is so easy to be an armchair philosopher, to hold all the answers and ask all the questions and demand all the answers from the safety of ones chair. it is so easy to damage the working relationships of others who don't even know where their chairs have gone in their scramble to do the best that they can within the constraints and restraints of whatever governing body has decreed. in the end, the animals suffer. and that suffering is prolonged and perpetuated because of conflict, misunderstanding, and lack of respect.

i think it is sad enough that animals suffer because of loser owners who do not or will not responsibily care for their animals. i think it is utterly tragic, when politics within the rescue arena causes them even further suffering simply because we don't know how to adhere to a code of ethics that ensures we treat peers with the utmost respect.

i guess i will have to find the time one day to hand type out this code of ethics of TAOS to share. in the meantime, my personal hat is off to all the people who work in animal controls and public shelters for the incredibly difficult and thankless job that they do. some of us do see what you really do.

thx for jack, cedric, rocky, hannah, abraham, cole, tigger woods, molly, sweet pea, ozzie, jesse, ellie, wally, marley, potato ed, andy, bonnie, phoebe, harrison, herbie, boots, ralphie, roo, lacey, gabby, beanie, shamus, glory, francis, saul, phil, issac, moses, river, maude, and the icky little pitties,...all of them kept safe by you.



Oops sorry I forgot to make one more comment. A lot of people do "arm chair" questioning when they first become interested in a topic as per example animal welfare. I certainly did my fair share in my 1st 2 years of fostering. I never stepped past the lobby of a shelter in my 1st 2 years but relied on the opinions of others. This put a lot of stupid ideas in to my head and I thought I had the right to question everything without looking past the lobby. Some events in my life actually led me into moving past the lobby and seeing what goes on in the back. I now have a whole list of new critiques but the uneducated ones have long disappeared. It is okay to start off "arm chairing" as we have to start somewhere and I think many people move past this stage or disappear on to new interests. It is odd though, if all you continue to do is stay in the arm chair.


My comments are very much my opinion and they come from someone who is not a rescuer (I foster dogs who have already been rescued)or a pound/shelter worker but a volunteer (which is a far cry from an employee since there is only so much you can do or are allowed to do). I just had to comment on the following statement:

[quote]we believe if we shout “injustice” long and loud enough, that we will win the day. and sometimes we do, like in the case of langley, delta, coquitlam, and now the city of Richmond which have awarded their animal control contracts to animal welfare agencies.

If you really dig past what is published in regards to shelters/pounds changing hands, the decisions made rarely have to do with rescues "winning the day" but very much hinges on finances (less spent). What is published makes (rescue group makes war on SPCA and wins) a better story than municipality wants less money spent. I also feel that when pounds/shelters change hands, things do not always improve. They are just different because everyone has different way of doing things. What I find does NOT change is the way animals are labeled and that ultimate label brings about the same outcome by all public & private shelters/large pubically funded groups/small rescue groups/individuals.


Very well said Carol. From someone who know works in a Shelter I say Thank-you! I am going to look up Taos on the computer and have a good read. Everything I myself, and everyone can do to improve the welfare of the animals going into Shelters, staying in Shelters , or Rescues,or on their way out is really what it's all about. In an ideal world all creatures would be safe, loved, have a loving home, and a full belly. The cracks they all fall in are huge but more will definately be helped from positive action rather than angry words. Hats off to you!