Time and time again I hear an argument amongst the public, amongst animal lovers, and even amongst shelter and rescue workers. It rarely begins in the same way, and there are many variations. Still, the sentiment is unchanging.
“Don’t waste your time…”
“Don’t waste your money…”
“.. on those kinds of animals.”
Sick animals, you see. They are sick. And yes, it’s unfair and sad, but the time, money and resources you spend on that one could be spent on many more healthy animals.
Disabled animals. Aren’t they tragic? The life they’ve had, and whatever likely led them to this disability, we can’t even imagine. But those resources, they are precious. You simply cannot waste them on those animals when there are so many more out there dying.
Animals with behavior issues. He guards his food. She doesn’t like her ears touched. He’s nervous around children. She’s dog aggressive. Or, even worse, he’s dominant. It’s horrible that they’ve become this way, and we feel for them. Our hearts bleed, really they do, but we just can’t spare ourselves. There are better animals out there. More deserving ones. More perfect ones. We should save them first. It’s awful. Quite dreadful. But those resources…
It’s just that there are so many. The numbers are too great. We have to put our efforts to where we are most effective, and there’s no room for these kinds of animals.
I used to honestly consider this point of view when I first began working at an animal shelter just over ten years ago. It was just one among many defenses I would hear again and again in the name of killing animals. I could certainly almost see the logic, but it never quite clicked, it never really seemed to me to be entirely true. What makes one life any more deserving than another? What kind of program can possibly be set up as a sort of psychic predictor of Lives That Will Be Saved Tomorrow In Place of The Lives We Took Today?
What kind of shelter, a supposed safe haven, kills the less-than-ideal and excuses it with “We’ll save more in the long run?”
Through my experience and the experiences of others, and taking a step back to actually use reason rather than wives tales, this attitude, this belief doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s not true, it’s not necessary, it’s not humane, and most importantly, it doesn’t seem to be working.
This is just one among many reasons that I no longer work at that same high kill shelter, that one track minded, easily intimidated, defeatist place that looked only to circular patterns to solve problems. Thankfully, I could see outside the box they had created for themselves. I can see that all life, barring the truly suffering, is worth my efforts to save. All creatures, especially those of which we as a race are responsible, deserve our efforts, deserve our care, and deserve our devotion. We have made this mess, and to clean it up, we must not be single-minded. We must not be killers. We must not be cold and uncaring. We must not de-value that which we intend to preserve. We must not let these misguided, if well-meaning individuals, lure us into their nonsensical logic and their ill-conceived ideas.
We must not forget what we’re here to do.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
– Theodore Roosevelt