I wanted to share this particular article and then decided to just make it a separate page; I’ll add more articles and links to other published articles at a later date.
Pet Rescue: Saving Lives from Death Row at High Kill Facilities
If you have ever visited a humane society or an animal shelter, you are probably someone who feels that tug on your heartstrings as you walk past rows of cages filled with abandoned or surrendered former canine and feline companions, and other animals.
As you peer into the eager faces of fur babies who desperately want to go home with you, looking for their “furever” homes–or worse, observe some poor former beloved pets cowering or facing the corners of their cages, afraid and hopeless–do you ever ponder why or how they arrived at that facility?
Reasons for Shelter Residency
Sure, some dogs and cats might be residents at shelters for legitimate reasons (http://www.humanesociety.org/animal_community/resources/qa/common_questions_on_shelters.html). Sometimes owners become too sick or elderly to care for their pets, or living situations change for pet owners so they can no longer keep their beloved pets or take them on moves to new homes. Other times, pet owners pass away. In any of these situations, if nobody else claims the pets, they may end up at shelters.
Sometimes shelter pets end up there as captured strays, as anonymous or known surrenders, as abandoned pets, or worst of all, as abused pets who were rescued from their former owners.
But what’s next for any of these shelter pets?
Regardless of how or why the pets arrive at shelters–how do they get OUT?
Adopted or Euthanized
Just a warning ahead of time, some of this information may be too graphic or emotionally stressful for some readers. Also, here’s fair warning that this writer does have a bias, based on personal experience.
There is really only one way for shelter pets to get out of shelters, aside from escaping or getting stolen from a facility: adoption or euthanasia.
The sad realty in many “kill” shelters is that if dogs and cats are not fortunate enough to be adopted in a timely manner, and the shelters run out of room and resources, the poor animals suffer the fate of being euthanized.
Put to sleep. Put down. KILLED. By the millions each year!
According to statistics from the Humane Society of the United States (http://www.humanesociety.org/animal_community/resources/qa/common_questions_on_shelters.html) (HSUS), about 150 animal shelters nationwide take in 6 to 8 million cats and dogs every year–and then routinely euthanize half of them. That’s 3 to 4 million former pets killed on an annual basis!
These so-called “shelters” (a misnomer, considering shelter actually means a place that provides protection from harm) have their rationalizations for the high percentage of killing that goes on. Their alleged reasons are often about not enough room, not enough resources, and not enough people willing to adopt pets.
Or as Nathan Winograd (http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/about/), author and no-kill advocate and founder of the No Kill Advocacy Center, stated, these shelters allege, “the American public is uncaring and irresponsible.”
But advocacy and rescue organizations aren’t buying these excuses to justify killing innocent animals!
Advocacy and Rescue Organizations
Many concerned people have formed non-profit organizations specifically for the purpose of advocating for and rescuing doomed pets on “death row” at “high kill” facilities. The people who operate these advocacy and rescue organizations typically invest much of their own finances, time, and effort into rescuing pets–and sometimes even put their own physical and mental health on the line for the sake of these precious animals who were likely, at some point, beloved pets.
Imagine how incredibly emotional this labor of love must be, to know if you don’t get the word out, can’t raise enough pledges and donations to pull a dog or cat off the “kill” list, and can’t find an adopter when a dog or cat is listed as “out of time”–that’s another life lost.
Organizations such as RescueMe! (http://www.rescueme.org/?A4B29) strive to stop this mind-boggling slaughter of innocent animals by educating people about adopting cats and dogs from these “high kill shelters” that only keep animals for a limited time before killing them.
The organization also provides assistance to shelters and rescuers (http://www.rescueme.org/RescueGroups) with grants and adoption services to match interested adopters with pets who desperately need new homes. For instance, as of the end of 2014, the organization had found loving, adoptive homes for nearly 230,000 pets posted on their site.
As previously mentioned, the No Kill Advocacy Center (http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/guides/) is another organization focused on educating the public and the shelter personnel of “high kill” facilities that euthanizing animals by the millions is unacceptable and should NOT be standard operating procedure. This endeavor is supported by the HSUS as a common goal for all animal welfare organizations to promote and enforce.
The official position of the HSUS regarding no-kill shelters (http://www.humanesociety.org/animal_community/resources/qa/common_questions_on_shelters.html) is as follows:
“The HSUS believes there must be at least one animal shelter in every community that operates under this philosophy.
Ending the euthanasia of homeless animals is a goal that all animal welfare organizations share.”
Shelter operators who engage the reform services of the No Kill Advocacy Center, and implement the strategies of the No Kill Equation (http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-equation/, typically save 90 to 100 percent of their animal residents (http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-quick-facts/).
In other words, No Kill advocates reject the notion that “you can’t save them all.”
A Personal Perspective
As I compose this blog post, I have two rescue dogs snuggling next to me. One is a beautiful brindle Plott hound, Desi, who is about 2 1/2 years old. My husband and I adopted her from the local shelter back in January 2013 as a rescue from a “high kill” facility in Alabama. The other pup is our 1-year-old black lab, Zoe, who we adopted from a “high kill” facility in South Carolina in October 2014. (For some reason, southern states tend to have a high percentage of “kill” facilities). We also have six cats, all rescues: one from the same local shelter, a Maine coon cat who is now approaching 10 years old, and five who arrived as tiny feral kittens in our back yard during the fall of 2009. Once we captured and “socialized” them, we couldn’t part with any of them!
We quite literally had Zoe pulled from “death row” at that facility in SC (hence her new name, Zoe, because it means LIFE)–scheduled for euthanasia THAT AFTERNOON! All thanks to the help of Nadine Molloy, director of the Maine branch of a rescue organization known as Whiskers Animal Rescue and Sanctuary (https://www.facebook.com/molloysadoptables) .
This wonderful lady, Nadine, addressed my inquiry in a Facebook pet group about adopting a black lab puppy. I have written previously about our beloved Kita, our senior canine companion (http://blog.petsolutions.com/dog-pet-care-corner/2014/8/4/caring-for-senior-canine-companions.html) who we had to say goodbye to back in 2012. Ever since then, I have wanted another black lab.
Nadine explained how her rescue organization operates:
**She locates the animal a prospective adoptive family wants.
**She then promotes the adoption by seeking and acquiring pledges and donations from no-kill advocates and animal lovers who gladly finance the “pull fee” to take the animal off the “kill” list and sponsor the adoption, pay for vet services (spay/neuter, vaccinations, and other medical attention), as well as cover the transportation costs.
**Finally, she arranges transportation with a reputable animal transporter and meets the adoptive family at a convenient location to hand over the paperwork and introduce the new furry family member!
So Nadine did all the work of tracking down black lab pups who were “out of time” at this SC “high kill” facility. We would have gladly adopted a bunch of them if we had the room and the finances to care for them, but we were drawn to the sad, yet beautiful face of this one pup, because she reminded us so much of our beloved Kita as a pup. Nadine made it all happen and we are so grateful!
As I conclude this post, this beautiful pup is snuggled up to my side. It’s hard to comprehend that just a few months ago, her young life hung in the balance all because her previous owner dropped her off at that “high kill” facility…and as a black puppy, her chances at adoption were reduced even further, due to “black dog syndrome” (http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/54050545/) (a subject for another post!)
Won’t YOU consider adopting and saving the life of a shelter pet or two today?