No-Kill Shelters – Helpful or Harmful?

An expected opinion of no-kill animal shelters is usually positive and supportive. The idea of a protected place that accepts homeless animals and promises not to euthanize for lack of adoption sounds like a dream, right? I certainly supported no-kill shelters for my entire life up until now. I can’t say that I have given up that opinion, because not supporting a no-kill shelter seems heartless, but I am now torn with two contrasting opinions. I discovered an article that lists five extremely valid points as to why no-kill shelters are not necessarily a good thing.

  • Animals are turned away at the shelter door, but they don’t magically vanish. “No-kill” shelters are usually at capacity, so they stop taking in animals, including those in emergency or abusive situations. As just one example, someone turning three dogs in to an open-admission shelter in Mississippi told a reporter, “It was either that or shoot them.”
  • Animals still die—but in pain. Instead of a peaceful death in a caring person’s arms, animals die slowly and in agony on the streets, in backyards, under sheds, on chains, and at the hands of abusive people. In San Antonio, Texas—which is striving to be a “no-kill” city—the bodies of nearly 16,000 dogs and nearly 12,000 cats were scraped off the streets and properties in just one year. One animal control officer termed it “euthanasia by proxy.” It is also becoming common for shelters that boast high “save rates” to have a sky-high rate of unassisted deaths in cages and kennels from illness or injuries.
  • Animals spend months or years in cages. Experts agree that after as little as two weeks in a traditional shelter, animals can begin to deteriorate psychologically and become withdrawn, depressed, anxious, or aggressive. If adopted, animals who have been confined for extended periods are often repeatedly returned because of behavioral issues—a traumatic yo-yo experience that makes them even less adoptable.
  • Animals are cast out and keep on reproducing. To increase “save” rates, some shelters promote animal abandonment. One big sanctuary recently issued a news release urging Good Samaritans to leave homeless kittens on the streets, rather than taking them to a shelter. That’s madness: Not only are abandoned kittens in danger of infection, disease, starvation, and being hit by cars, attacked by dogs and wildlife, and abused by cruel people, the surviving ones will also eventually go on to reproduce, resulting in even more homeless animals.
  • Animals are handed over to abusers and hoarders. When numbers become the priority, animals are no longer viewed as individuals deserving of consideration and respect but instead as inventory that must be moved, causing shelters to toss aside even basic safeguards. Homeless animals are increasingly being found tortured and killed by adopters who weren’t screened or, even more commonly, caged in hoarders’ filthy basements, garages, sheds, and barns. Every day, headlines appear about raids on self-described “rescuers” and the animals—both sick and dead—who were removed from the cruel and disgusting conditions in the homes of the “rescuers.” When one hoarding facility masquerading as a “rescue” in San Jose, California, caught fire, nearly 100 cats burned to death inside carriers, unable to flee while the plastic melted down on top of them.

I wish this article didn’t affect me as much as it did. I truly wish that I wasn’t now doubting no-kill shelters, because the people involved in these establishments mean well, but the suffering that is involved in holding an animal and turning away others due to occupancy is such a heartbreaking thing. I will continue to weigh out the pros and cons of no-kill shelters to form a solid option, but for now, I am solidly undecided.

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What’s the Deal With Pit Bulls?

There is a common stereotype when it comes to pit bull canines, and people are almost always either very supportive of this stereotype or very much against it. The stereotype is that all pit bulls are dangerous animals that should be feared. A majority of the people I have talked to agree with this understanding. Many people, though, are pro-pit bulls and will argue this belief to the death. These pit bull supporters argue that this commonly disliked breed of dog is actually full of very sweet and trustworthy animals. I have not personally experienced any notable encounter with a pit bull, so I lack an opinion of this breed. With so many of these dogs being euthanized, I decided it was time to form an opinion of this breed. What’s the deal with pit bulls anyway?

According to ASPCA, pit bulls are descendants of the English bull dog, which was originally trained to bite and hold bulls and other large animals by the neck. After this activity was outlawed in the 1800s, dog fighting became a popular alternative. The bull dogs were then bred with small, quick terriers “to produce a more agile and athletic dog for fighting other dogs.” Other bull dogs, though, were bred with calmer dogs to create more compassionate pit bull dogs. That proves, in my opinion, that the characteristics of these animals really depends on each individual dog.

ASPCA also explained that the environment that each animal is raised in strongly influences their personality and habits–confirming many people’s beliefs that pit bulls are only dangerous dogs if they were raised to be.

Another great point that I discovered through my research  is that the pit bulls that were/are bred to be fighting dogs react negatively and dangerously only to other dogs–not humans. With this information, I have certainly been more opened up to the two differing sides, but have not yet swayed to a supportive or fearful position. I will remain cautious of this breed, but will keep an open mind to the many dogs that are trustworthy yet have a bad reputation.

My Animal Story.

As I continue to share my research findings and opinions regarding animal adoption, I can assume some of my readers may hold curiosity for my personal pet history. What got me into this animal rescue scene, anyway?

As far back as I can remember, my family home always included pets. Occasionally, my brother or I would convince my parents to allow us to bring home somewhat…unique pets. At separate times, we owned a snake, rabbit, guinea pig, lizard, and multiple chickens. For a steady twenty years, though, my childhood house was always home to at least one cat or dog at any given time. Although we were obviously very open to accepting animals into our home, we were not responsible pet owners, unfortunately. Continue reading

Celebs Who Rescue!

Not all celebrities have an expensive taste in every aspect of their life. In fact, there are many well-known celebs who are huge advocates of animal rescue and speak negatively about purchasing pets. Here are a few of the celebrities who are big animal lovers and have the pets to prove it!

MIRANDA LAMBERT
Pets: Cher, Delta, Delilah, Jessi, Waylon, Virginia Bluebell, Black Betty (dogs)

 

adams

MANDY MOORE and RYAN ADAMS
Pets: Maddie (cat), Addison (cat), Theo (cat), Vincent (cat), Joni (dog), Jackson (dog)

 

kelly clarkson

KELLY CLARKSON
Pets: 30 dogs, 14 horses, 4 goats, 2 pigs

 

miley cyrus

MILEY CYRUS
Pets: Floyd, Ziggy, Happy, Mary Jane, Penny Lane, Bean (dogs)

 

 

SELENA GOMEZ  Pets: Wallace, Fina, Chip, Willie, Chazz, Baylor (dogs)

SELENA GOMEZ
Pets: Wallace, Fina, Chip, Willie, Chazz, Baylor (dogs)

 

Also included, but not pictured, are Jake Gyllenhaal, Amanda Seyfried, Mischa Barton, Ryan Reynolds, and Kristen Bell! Three cheers for these big hearted humans!

Birth Control – For Dogs!

With all this talk about the importance of spaying/neutering pets, an upcoming alternative option needs some promotion! I recently stumbled upon a web post on the PawNation blog that discusses a new temporary method of sterilization for dogs—birth control! A medical implant (about the size of a grain of rice) is soon to be available to insert under a dog’s skin to prevent reproduction for up to twelve months. The medication can temporarily sterilize both male and female dogs. I continue to weigh out the pros and cons of this technique, which prevent me from forming an opinion on the product.

Although I lack a sturdy opinion of this new option, some situations stick out in my mind where this method could stand very useful. For example, dog owners may wish to avoid surgery (spay/neuter) and all included side effects for their pup (anesthesia, recovery, etc.). Also, although canine reproduction should not be necessary at any point in the near future, some pet owners may want temporary sterilization for their pet but plan for their dog to reproduce at a later time. With these helpful opportunities, though, I can’t help but return to the major downside to this alternative option.

Regardless of the positive opportunities this birth control brings, I keep returning to the fact that this new method is only temporary and that it opens the door for future mass reproduction in the canine world. Birth control works as a wonderful family planning method for humans who want to leave the option for future children open, but with animal shelters doubling up dogs in kennels and countless homeless dogs roaming the streets of America, the option for future pet reproduction should not be in the cards. This new medicine may act as a wonderful backup for rare situations regarding dog sterilization, but I’m not sure I can support the idea of it being a regular veterinarian option.

How do you feel about this birth control for dogs?

What to Do If You Find an Abandoned Animal.

When a cat or dog is found hungry and roaming the street, your first action should not be to drop it off at a shelter. Instead, consider taking responsibility of the situation and saving a life. Five-million companion animals are surrendered to shelters annually across the United States–that is well over 13,000 animals entering shelters each day in our country. Of those five-million animals, more than half are euthanized (3.5 million). Although all animal shelters share the same goal, to give every animal a loving home, there is only so much advertising and pleading a business can do. If we take it upon ourselves to help relocate the many homeless pets instead of dumping the responsibility on our local shelter’s doorstep, many companion animals will gain a fighting chance at life.

Many people who already take homeless pets under their wing use social networking to find homes for the abandoned animals on their own. I frequently see posts of animals needing new homes in my Facebook news feed. Personal sales websites, like Craigslist, are also home to such posts.

If you are ever in a situation where you have a homeless animal that you are unable to keep, don’t jump to the assumption that a shelter is best for the furry guy. Instead, put some effort into marketing the pet out on your personal social media feeds. You may be surprised how many of your friends are open to adopting or fostering!

Try It Before You Buy It!

As I discussed in my previous post, a person interested in adding an animal to their home should seriously consider adopting or rescuing their new pet from an animal shelter. With the holidays around the corner, I hope this is in many families’ upcoming plans! Holidays offer an excellent opportunity to bring so much joy to families and homeless pets around the world.

When given the option between adopting a cat or dog, many people hesitate to bring home the dog due to the animal’s lack of independence. Many people aren’t confident that a dog will fit into their life as easily as a cat will. Fortunately, many shelters offer their animals to be fostered, or “borrowed,” to help the interested family or individual test the effect of a pet in their home. This is very beneficial for interested families and helps cut back the unfortunate return of adopted animals. Continue reading

Let’s Go Upstream

You’re walking next to a river and you see a kitten floating past. You jump in and save the kitten. Then another one floats by, so you save that one, too. Then another and another and another float by, and you soon realize that you can’t save them all. So you run upstream to see who’s throwing kittens into the water—and you stop that person.

As I have repeatedly discussed, adoption is so vital when it comes to adding a new pet to the family. I discovered the above parable that symbolizes the homeless animal overpopulation issue. After reading this snippet, my priorities became much more clear. The most productive use of my time will come from me promoting and encouraging spaying and neutering. I don’t plan on giving up my tendencies to  encourage animal adoption on my peers, but this analogy opened my eyes and helped me realize that my focus should be on putting a stop to the reproduction (i.e. putting a stop to the person throwing the kittens into the river).

Winter-Proof.

A harsh winter approaches and your pet may not survive. As winter starts to show its face, my pets become a more serious priority in my home. Although I live in Florida where the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing, my house frequently sits below fifty-five degrees because my fiancé cares more for our electric bill than our overall comfort. Our three kitties become the world’s cuddliest companions when the cool weather arrives, as their fur coats just aren’t enough to keep them warm. As I, myself, shiver through the winter in The Sunshine State, I can’t help but constantly worry about the many animals who don’t have protection from the brutal winters.

For pet owners living in snow states, weather protection for your furry friend(s) stands vital. Although many animals appear to not mind (maybe even enjoy) the snow and cold weather, cats and dogs can literally freeze to death in these weather conditions. The freeze quickly creeps up on the animal and puts a stop to their breath. Pet owners need to remember to keep their outdoor animal time to a minimum during freezing weather conditions; cats should stay inside at all times, and dogs should participate in quick walks or roam outside (in a fenced yard, of course) for only the necessary potty-time. If outdoor living remains necessary for your animal, provide a warm, sheltered space for the animal. Although quite expensive, Petco.com offers many pet house options, some with heated floors! If inexpensive appeals to you more, try a DIY version (tutorial available at MyOutdoorPlans.com). Always stay conscious of the shortness of breath and the tight chests we, as humans, get from the cold weather, and remember that animals have no scarves or masks to filter that cold air.

Many man-made snow-cures can also act as pet killers in the winter. Cats and dogs frequently get salt poisoning from licking the salted frozen roads in the winter. Outdoor cats also tend to find warmth under the hoods of cars. Not only do the cats risk slurping up some antifreeze (an engine liquid and frequent animal killer) under that hood, but they also risk getting injured or killed when the car turns on. Due to these listed reasons, keeping all pets inside remains extremely important through the winter seasons.

As pet owners, we all want the absolute best protection for our beloved animals. Sometimes, that protection exists simply from the daily weather conditions. Humans hold the ability to add layers of clothing and rest within indoor heated areas, but many animals lack control of their surroundings. The responsibility lies in us to keep our animals comfortable and safe this winter, and every season following. Please check out these tips from the ASPCA regarding cold weather animal protection. Also, as always, if an animal appears abandoned in unsafe weather conditions, report the neglect to your local animal rescue.