Rescue Journal

marisa makes an interesting point

Carol  ·  Mar. 31, 2010

how much does all animal welfare agencies enable the public to walk away guilt-free when they dump their family pet on us? unfortunately..alot.

but what are the alternatives? how many people who are moving call the the public and private shelters and are told..."sorry we are full" many of those folks just lock their doors and walk away, leaving their cats behind to fend for themselves because they cannot think of what else to do?

how many times have each of us heard...i don't want to take my pet to the spca because i am afraid they will put them down....?
the spca's mandate clearly states they do not put down healthy, adoptable animals.

as long as the cat is healthy and adoptable,...meaning... does not have a mental melt down at the loss of his/her home and become aggressive or stops eating, does not pee inappropriately outside the litter box, is not sick or 100 years old...he or she meets their mandate as a healthy adoptable animal. (please understand that peeing all over the house does in fact make an animal one very often in my experience, adopts animals who pee all over the house!)

and by the way...peeing all over the house is not a normal behavior (if it is long term and deeply ingrained, it is not easily fixed) i ask you..what happened in that cats home to make them pee everywhere? were their litter boxes always disgustingly dirty? did they smell and look so gross, they had to go pee somewhere else? were they continually stressed by too many other animals, or one other bully animal, was there a lot of anger and high emotion coming from the humans in the house? was their litter box too small, too inaccessible, were they punished unfairly? were they sick and never seen by a vet or were they finally seen when it was too late and the habit was already formed?

ahhh but that is another post.

should folks be told that if proven unadoptable their animal will be put down? california they do not care, they know thousands of their animals die in shelters everywhere. shit i just read that the humane society somewhere is killing 60 cats a night.
some folks think if they are going to die anyway...why not just open the door and let them go, maybe they might stand a chance?

i don't think we can lay the blame on rescues shoulders for taking in animals or for killing them and not saying that we did. because if we stop doing both, folks will just set their animals "free" as the only alternative their brains can think of.....and for that animal, that option probably sucks the most.

building bigger and better shelters does not help just creates more space that folks think can help their pet in need.

educate, educate, educate on the reality of pets who lost their homes...educate, educate, educate on the ripple effects of letting (or encouraging) pets to breed.

instituting real and enforcible, across the board consequences for having unspayed, unneuutered animals...making it illegal to have a pet if you are not prepared or unable to care for it responsibly for the rest of its life....

i was serious when i said BSL is bullshit....HSL...human specific legislation is the way we have to go. if you are an idiot, if you are a person at risk of an unstable life or environment, if you cannot problem solve your way out of a box....then sorry, no one cares what you want.... you still are not getting an animal to mess up.

animals must cease to be property and become sentient beings entitled to guardians who are legislated by law to care for and protect them appropriately....and too freaking bad if that infringes on human rights.

i hate to tell folks this but...the reason animals are in such dire need in our society is BECAUSE..our rights are more important then theirs. get rid of the loser owners...hit them hard if they actually do acquire a pet. and then our shelters will be half as full because we will have to help significanlty less.

it blows my mind how many people in or on the periphery of rescue, adamantly fight against giving animals their inherent rights.

we have even coined polar opposites...AR (animal rights..this is apparently a bad thing, it means you are nutz) and AW (animal welfarist, which means you are right)

well..i guess i am right and nutz because i believe in BOTH..animal welfare AND animal rights...that is how we ensure they live the life they are entitled to making it the law and hanging the ones (proverbially) who think they can break it.



When shelters do euthanize animals that have been surrendered to a shelter, in most cases, the owners know this. The shelter does not take the animal, lie to the owner and then take it to the back and kill it. They are upfront with the owner, the owner doesn't walk away thinking Fluffy is going to get a happy ending. The owner will give himself a pretty story and say it wasn't his fault though. I disagree with your statement, dog lover, the problem of dogs dying in shelters does not like with shelter worker or the manage. I personally think that is a rude and generalized statement to make. Dogs and cats die in shelters because of society and the morals and standards the majority stand by. Shelters as all standardized institutions are a reflection of society. Change the morals and standards for how we value animals and one day, we will no longer need animal shelters.


I was going to actually order and read Nathan Winograd's book Redemption and then when I started to read his blog and his solutions to animals not being euthinized ... like get foster homes in the community ..take your shelter out to the communtiy. The more a read what is his solutions the more suspect I am of him because he presents them like you will get 200 foster homes in a community just go out and look.... yeah ask a shelter that tries to get foster homes how hard it is to get 10 foster homes. I think he simplifies the whole problem by puting the full blame on shelters. I am never impressed by people who choose to express themselves in a "inflamatory" manner as oppossed to a more intellectual manner. Perhaps it is because I tend to gravitate towards people such as Martin Luther King rather than Malcolm X and to me he is more of a Malcolm X ( a lot of people that he was a hero and I don't). Like Carol said in another post the words people choose to use often says more about the writer than the message s/he is trying to express. I find this very true when I read Nathan Winograd's words.


Great post Carol..I also would like to add, please read all the books from Nathan Winograd, esp. Redemption..
It is all about Building A No Kill Community..for the healthy Adoptable animals..More often than not, the problem does not lie with the animals but with the shelter workers esp with the Manager..People need to be more educated and be more pro active..


carol, you rock. educate educate educate....what about educating people not to take the animals to the spca (or others) in the first place? i am a renter and simply would not move somewhere that didnt allow animals, though, yes i paid a higher deposit. im also a landlord in a different town and my tenants are allowed animals, no extra deposit. in my experience, children are much more adept at ruining things than incontinent animals (i have 2 kids and a dog that may or may not hold it) i adopted this dog 13 years ago from an spca and promised i would treat her as one of the family, no friggin way she'd (or the dog and cat i adopted since) find her way into a shelter, same as my kids wont live in a foster home. my pets my kids MY RESPONSIBILITY. and thats whats missing.


Helga, your post brought back memories. Mostly good ones, but some ARGH! times.

Years ago I had a male neutered cat. Suddenly, at 7 years old, for no apparent reason ( his vet said he was fine, litter boxes were scooped and clean, nothing odd had happened. ) the bugger started spraying! He marked on a girl friends new fancy leather winter boots. Huh?? Then he began spraying on furniture and anything he deemed markable.

I pared down my furniture. Pleather couches/chairs were easier to clean than fabric, eventually I ripped out the carpet and had lino. Not for one nanosecond did I think about dumping him. You don't dump someone you truly adore and love. He lived to be 15 and sprayed up until the end.


thank you Helga! i have a 14+ year old fecal incontinent dog... and it's a pain! (can't imagine how you deal with so many Carol). But it's still amazing to me how many people would euthanize this wonderful still perky old dog because of that... He's my dog - of course i take care of him! and invest in plastic sheets and extra towels for dog beds...


On the subject of the peeing: I have a male cat named Hardcase. He was some years ago a wild stray (not true feral I think) in this neighbourhood. I left food out for him (couldn't approach him) and there were and are two plastic 'cat'houses for shelter. Eventually I trapped him, got him neutered and released him again. The vet figured he was about 9 years old. Six months later Hardcase decided he wanted in the house and I opened the door and said 'go for it'. Since then he has been family. From day one he has peed and sprayed on everything. I have five litter boxes and they are scooped religiously several times a day. The vet can't find any problems. And except for recently when Millie put the moves on him the household is pretty quiet and settled. Just last week I laid down my garden gloves to fetch something and came back to find Hardcase annointing them. Visitors shoes have been baptized and the newly washed Felv cats laundry. The list is endless. People tell me get rid of the cat. That is not an option. Like you say a peeing cat is unadoptable. So what to do? You go Arrggghhh!!! but you live with it.


There have been studies which have proven that outside cats have a minimal effect on bird life.

Song bird enthusiasts always throw blame at cats without any evidence to back it up.


I think the focus on feral cats as an invasive species and killers of our songbirds is misplaced. Education should really be focused on the most invasive species of We're the ones REALLY decimating songbirds with our virulent use of pesticides, our destruction of habitat, our tall buildings and ever-lit cities which confuse and kill many, many migratory birds. If humans cleaned up their act, the impact of feral cats would probably be negligible.


Ajax, I am curious what your suggested solution to the feral cat crisis is?


Carol, great post.
The only thing I would like to add is that the "letting them have a chance" method as an alternative to euthanization in shelters is more of a problem than one may realize - as an environmental scientist, the problem I see with that is a massive influx of invasive predators that could potentially wipe out native bird/small mammal populations. Its a lose-lose situation when people are big enough ***holes to abandon their animals...jerks. The other thing this pet vs. wild population balance concerns is outdoor/feral cats, which I strongly campaign against...its hard, as an animal lover, to see that sometimes to feed a stray cat (spayed or not...of course, spaying and releasing is better but that cat still kills birds) is the irresponsible thing to do in the long run because of the fact that it is an invasive species in our local ecosystems.


We're great food sources for other animals yet we don't agree to relinquish our friends, children, neighbours or ourselves to the local wildlife. So, we don't follow the natural order of things as willingly as some would suggest.

There's a very interesting movie that recently came out about vampires who basically factory farm humans for their blood. They simply view humans as sacks of food as we view so many other animals. Vampires would argue it's the natural order of things and they are the superior species...a familiar argument. Just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we should.

Also, everybody always forgets about the countless animals who are vegetarians: elephants, cows, giraffes, goats, rabbits, deer, etc. Why don't we emulate the vegetarians rather than the meat eaters?


there are varying degrees of animal rights activists...there are the extremists that i most assuredly do not agree with...animals do have a place in our world..maybe, (i am still pondering this) as a food source..(lots of animals are food prey for others) it does seem to be natures way.

but having said that...we still are highly responsible for that life and the quality of that life simply because we bred them for our exclusive use.


Great post Carol.

I believe the public should be told what happens to unwanted, homeless animals. The epidemic of homeless companion animals is not only the SPCA's fault... it is not only the fault of private rescue... it is not only the fault of the human who could not make the lifetime committment the animal deserved... it is ALL of our "faults". The shelter where I volunteer is vehemently no-kill (not no-euthanasia) and we believe that every animal deserves every opportunity because we have seen what can happen to a former-pee-er / sprayer / aggressive animal under the right circumstances. However, that does NOT mean that our hands are clean and we are absolved of responsibility. Every animal we have to turn away because we are full who ends up dying leaves a little bit of blood on each of our hands.

Eduation is very important. Cerebral lessons are fairly easy to portray, but changing a heart requires an act of self-will.

What needs to happen to curtail the cat over-population is the Mother needs to be asked about (and spayed) when kittens are dropped off.

By laws need to implemented, and if already implemented, enforced.

Free-roaming and feral cats need to be TNR'd. As distasteful as it is to have to re-release a cat after S/N, it is even more irresponsible to do nothing. "See No Evil" does not curtail the breeding cycle.

And THANK YOU for your comments on "AR" and "AW". I guess I am also Right N' Crazy!


As Gary Francione so rightly points out, animals need ONE right, the right not to be treated as property. And from that one right a whole lot of exploitative industries would crumble. Animals could not be eaten, experimented on, used for clothing, bred, used for entertainment, etc. And, yes, it might affect domestic animals to some degree but I believe there can be a relationship with domestic animals which does not require that we see them as property. It's the sort of relationships that Carol has set up with many of her animals. Relationships based on respect and understanding.

If anyone ever gets an opportunity read Craig Brestrup's book, "Disposable Animals: Ending the Tragedy of Throwaway Pets". He posits that rescues and SPCAs are too quick to ENABLE the public to treat their animals as disposable. Don't get me wrong. I am not blaming all the SPCAs and rescues for shouldering a burden which nobody else wants to shoulder but we all have to look at how we become complicit in a society's dominant paradigm. As we get more and more comfortable with killing animals with needles because there are too many of them this solution seems to become more and more palatable and we forget that we should be doing everything in our power to STOP this now procedural practice. If someone told me I could have a needle sealing my fate OR I could take my chances out in the cold, harsh world, lemme tell you, I'd take my chances!!! I think every creature strives for LIFE. It's a biological imperative even when the odds are heavily stacked against us. But I digress.

What Brestrup suggests is that staff in shelters have lost their focus somewhat and need to fight HARDER to find new and imaginative ways to get animals adopted and educate people so that SPCAs and shelters don't end up just stockpiling dead animals walking. As Carol says, EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE!!

I tell ya...what drove it home to me was the back cover of Brestrup's book where it's simply a picture of barrels and barrels of limp, lifeless cats and dogs stacked one upon the other outside a Humane Society. I will never get that image out of my head as long as I live and it behooves all of us to never get comfortable with that image. We must constantly fight for a world where those endless barrels will no longer be needed.


My understanding is that animal rights activist believe that animals have no place in life as domestic, companion animals. This is the kind of practice that PETA participates in. They tend to be rather, um, extreme. I consider myself a welfarist. That being said, I agree with you, that animals deserve more rights than a toaster does which they currently don't have because in the eyes of the law, they are simply property to be owned.
And no, people shouldn't get off guilt free after abandoning their 'beloved family pet' at a shelter to be killed. They need to know what may happen to it because people don't take their responsibilities or the decision to abandon a pet seriously and they need to know the ramifications of their decision to get rid of Fluffy or Fido. It may not change their mind this time but maybe it'll come into their head the next time they go to the pet store or breeder to get another.