Friday, September 19, 2008

Words That Kill

Another "blog" has a "guest" blogger who is somewhat confused about the killing term "no kill". From reading this blogger it is obvious to me that the woman has not been in the field of humane work for very long. I oppose and hate the term "no kill" and in my humble opinion, the term alone has killed more animals than necessary.

If you didn't know anything and heard the term "no kill", how would you interpret it? Just as it sounds, no killing. Wrong, even the "no kill" open door shelters have to put animals down, those that are very ill or severely injured (hopefully). So it is not true to the definition that John Q. Public interprets. Closed door shelters who pick and chose animals may not have to "kill" and thus they can use the term honestly.

The term "no kill" is most certainly deceiving to the uninformed public. This is evident in those shelters who are under the "No Kill" banner with the incredible increases in owner and public surrenders after declaring "no kill". But this "guest" blogger is either ignorant on the subject or in denial. The numbers are there for all to see. Rancho Cucamonga went from an average of 50-100 surrendered pets by the public to over 4,000 and it continues. The director of Rancho Cucamonga has pleaded in two newspaper articles in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that the shelter is not "No Kill" in order to curb the influx of these surrenders. Rancho Cucamonga is now paying $12+ per person per year and cannot obtain "no kill". So this shows it is not a matter of money as some would claim.

I will be the first to admit that shelters throughout the country can be improved. But they have to operate within budgets and the powers that be have never allowed decent budgets, budgets that would include programs to help curb the influx or help people retain their pets. Most shelters barely make ends meet with their budgets. I have said for years that animal control didn't make the problem and they don't have the means to solve it. Yet they are blamed by "No Kill" because the ignorance and inexperience of this movement in regards to animal control and shelter.

When you tell the public that a shelter is a "kill" shelter, do you think you are helping the animals? When you describe the "horrors" in an open door shelter, do you think they will beat a path to come and "save" the animals? C'mon, we're talking the public here, they dispose of their pets without regard and we expect them to come running? They run, but the other way. They go to Petsmart and adopt. So using the negative terms such as "high kill" shelter, dog catcher, and pound only turn the public away. "No Kill" has actually pushed the public away from our shelters and thus more animals have lost their lives. Roger Caras, longtime President of the ASPCA, once was quoted as calling "no kill" as a hoax. Although the ASPCA gave up animal control to follow their mission statement and essentially became a "no kill" shelter, he preferred that they didn't use the term. Caras, who could be considered an expert on words in that he authored about 60 books and was a commentator on television, felt the term was deceiving and hurt our shelters. He felt that it took away the volunteers the open door shelters need and they would go to the "no kill" shelters. It did and does.

We, the humane community, have an obligation to help the shelters rather than turn on them. Maybe we don't agree with some things that happen at shelters but rather than broadcast them to the public, we need to work from within to change these things. How many people actually sit in budget meetings or serve on Ad Hoc committees? How many people voiced themselves at public forum during city council or county meetings? How many people "lobby" their elected officials and try to educate them on a regular basis? The "rescue" groups don't take their time to do these things. And that is another term I don't like - rescue. I don't consider taking a pet from an owner with a donation as a "rescue". I don't consider going to the shelter and picking out the cute, fluffy, adoptable animals as "rescue". I refer to these groups as adoption groups because that is what they do. Call one of these "rescue" groups to get puppies out of a storm drain in a thunderstorm and they will tell you very quick that they don't do "rescue". Only animal control does rescue in the best sense of the word. What I am trying to say is that we have sat on our duffs long enough, it is time that we, the sensible ones, to make ourselves known. Get out there and get involved in the bullshit of politics. The politicians are the ones who hold the key to getting it all.

I see the "No Kill" movement losing it's momentum. But before it does, there will be a one last effort and it will be a good one. Right now, we have the tools to fight "No Kill" but we must continue to keep as a goal to stop the euthanizing of animals because of space and time. We must educate the public as to their role in all of this and that means putting the blame where it lies, on an irresponsible public. Taking the focus off the public and their role is hurting the animals as demonstrated in the high surrenders in the "No Kill" shelters.

Unfortunately "No Kill" is making it even more hard to get the job done. Not only do we have to deal with politicians and the public, we have to deal with the ignorant people who follow this movement. That's why we have been set back into the dark ages. According to Clifton Merritt, spay/neuter has made a tremendous difference in the last 20-30 years as indicated by the numbers in shelters. But "No Kill" fights our efforts to promote spay/neuter. You have to ask yourself, who benefits from keeping our shelters in chaos. Who benefits from keeping the humane community in chaos. You know the answer.


Bruce Cordell said...

Well said. I've been speaking out about so called "no kill" now and again on my own blog over the last couple years. If we can raise Joe Public's awareness what "no kill" actually entails, the animals will win.

HonestyHelps said...

If we can do away with the term, the animals will win. Negative terms such as "high kill" and "no kill" don't serve the animals, it serves a personal agenda. It just sounds so dog gone good on paper. Makes our jobs harder because the truth doesn't look good on paper. And the public doesn't want to know the truth because the truth is that they are the problem.

Anonymous said...

I do believe we hear the death rattle in the throat of the no kill guru. Unfortunately like any cornered rodent the chance of a fight to the bitter end is elevated.
Enough animals have been hurt with this poorly thought out plan, I hope the County Commission is dilligent in it's duties to the public. The building is owned by the citizen, it is maintained by the county, there must be some negotiation.