Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Overpopulation of Excuses

Using the phrase "No Kill" in the animal community brings about lots of mixed emotions and reactions. Generally speaking, I think the concept sounds great to most people, but there are also those people have been trained to be suspicious and distrustful of the world around them. Rather than looking at the facts, some people just seem to think they know best and immediately try to find the flaws in the situations that they are presented with. 

I admit that I can be a stubborn person (I am sure my husband laughed when he read that statement). It takes a lot to change my mind or my routine. That's why I was skeptical of the No Kill Equation* myself 3 years ago. That was before I took the time to do a little research into what the movement was all about. No Kill is not the enemy, as many of the big organizations make them out to be. Pet Overpopulation isn't this unbeatable force that demands our shelters end the lives of nearly 4 million pets each year. 

Pet Overpopulation is simply an excuse that helps the individuals that kill these animals sleep soundly each night. 

I am not arguing that many shelters are bursting at the seams or seemingly overrun with animals right now. That is true. But, I have to ask why? 

Why are those animals still sitting in the shelter? 
  • How many of those animals have homes that they are just waiting to get back to? 
  • How many of those animals are feral cats that could be Spayed/Neutered and returned to their colonies?
  • How many of these animals would be candidates for a local rescue organization to pull?
  • How many of these pets could be in Foster Care?
Most importantly, now that those animals are in the shelter, what is the shelter going to do to get them out?

Shelters that implement the No Kill programs have a plan! In Austin, it's hard to walk around the city without finding evidence of an animal rescue loving community. A dog with an "I'm Adopted" bandanna, an Austin Pets Alive T-Shirt or a pet adoption event going on outside of your favorite local shop. IS this because Austin is special? Yes and No.

While Austin is an amazing community, we are not one of a kind when it comes to our animal sheltering system. We have a government run facility (as most cities do), Austin Animal Center that takes in the bulk of our city's homeless pets. Then, with programs that the city shelter has implemented, pets are placed with rescue organizations, promoted at adoption events or returned to their owners. Animals do not sit and wait for someone to randomly find them, we as a city reach out and take the pets (or at least promote them) to their potential adopters. If Austin can do it, so can ever other city.

The only thing stopping them.. excuses.
  • Excuses that blame Pet Overpopulation.
    (Pet Overpopulation just doesn't add up!*)
  • Excuses that blame the public.
    (Sure, some members of the public suck, but the majority of people are compassionate and want to help! Embrace the public, ask for assistance and you might be surprised!)
  • Excuses that claim these pets are unwanted.
    (An estimated 90% of pets entering shelters are healthy and adoptable!)
  • Excuses that Feral Cats must be killed.
    (Trap, Neuter, Return has proven incredibly effective at regulating feral cat communities.)
  • Excuses that pet owners are irresponsible.
    (Even the most responsible of pet parents might forget to lock the gate once in their life.)
I think it's obvious where the issue lies and that is not in the animals. The animals, unfortunately, are powerless when it comes to deciding their fate. They rely on those that care enough to stand up for what is right. They rely on No Kill programs to save their lives. They rely on us.

So, as I finish this post, I just want to say.. for the official record; My name is Stephanie Conrad. I am an artist, animal advocate and rescuer. I believe that it is time to end the Excuse Overpopulation and demand change in America's sheltering system. 

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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*Click here to learn about The No Kill Equation.