Some days in the world of animal welfare workers it seems we have little effect. For every animal saved, ten more die and for every puppy or kitten prevented from being conceived, a dozen are born.
Animal activists must have emotions of steel and hearts of gold to deal with what they witness each day. The pain and suffering simply never ends . . . and never will if we don’t change paths.
There are few who don’t believe we need to work towards a no-kill solution. But getting there has been a battle, not because there is not a want among animal welfare workers but because there is not a want among shelter managers and those that are responsible for shelter funding. In other words, a majority of our elected leaders would prefer to spend the money killing rather than saving lives. It is the easy way but not the moral way nor the cost-effective way.
There are many pieces to the puzzle of the no-kill solution. Spay and neuter, education and adequate breeder controls are among the necessary pieces. But none will be achieved unless we elect officials who believe in the cause.
Shelter managers and government-run animal control agencies must be given a “no-kill or no-job” mandate and the tools to go along with that mandate. It will not occur until city councilmembers, boards of supervisors and state legislators take up the cause. And the only way to assure they take up the cause is for them to be given the same “no-kill or no-job” ultimatum from the voters.
From the day a politician is elected to office, the foremost thing on his or her mind is getting re-elected. This is the piece of the puzzle that has been ignored almost totally by the animal welfare community. If we want real reform—a no-kill solution that utilizes all the pieces of the puzzle—we must elect representatives at every level of government that also believe in the solution and understand they will lose their jobs if they do not enact laws and policies towards that end.
Remember, generally, municipal (public) animal shelters are funded by tax dollars. Those tax dollars are controlled by our elected leaders. Those same leaders must understand that a kill rate of 90 percent or even 25 percent is not acceptable. We do not want our tax dollars spent on killing.
The “high kill” shelter is a mindset of those who either enjoy the killing or are too weak to do anything about it. As voters we must demand change.
This is where political action comes in. Most candidates will quickly become “pro no-kill” if their election or re-election depends on it.
It is with this piece of the puzzle that the animal welfare community has failed miserably. Until we unite and vote into office leaders who care about what we care about, we will not see the end to the suffering. Shelter managers will continue to be allowed to give lame excuses as to why “no kill” does not work. Backyard breeders and puppy mills will be allowed to exist. Education of our citizens will not be a priority.
We must turn the tables on shelter managers, breeders and anyone else who does not care about the plight of animals. Then and only then will our calls for real reform become a reality.
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