You can not send out a memo or announce at a staff meeting, “I simply will not tolerate a lack of compassion from anyone any longer.” It doesn’t work that way. For people to feel empathy and sympathy for other living beings, they have to actually have those feelings within themselves. It’s not a hard hat you can begrudgingly don to meet a safety standard. It’s not a test you can fail and retake over and over until you score the desired grade. It’s not a oh-shoot-the-boss-is-coming-everybody-feel-empathy type of thing. No amount of foot-putting-down will instill this virtue into those who lack it.
Sure, you might be able to force someone into giving the appearance of humane treatment to pets when they know they are being watched. But that is not compassion. That is merely a sham, a show for the cameras, if you will. A person who does that will have no commitment to lifesaving nor will they show mercy any time they believe they can get away with it. Still, it may be good enough for some. It’s not where I would set the bar if I was running an animal shelter but perhaps meaningless facades are your thing.
But here is where we come to a fork in the road. There are some animal shelter workers who lack compassion but can possibly be forced into treating pets humanely when directly supervised in order to keep their jobs. And then there are animal abusers.
Animal abusers prey upon voiceless victims and get a thrill out of hurting them. They will do more work than is necessary in order to hurt animals. They will go out of their way for the opportunity to inflict pain and suffering upon them. They are evil incarnate and to knowingly keep them on staff at a shelter is unethical. Moreover, putting forth the notion that animal abusers can be retrained to show kindness to sentient beings – whom they view as potential victims – is playing with fire.
There will never be meaningful reform at MAS until every animal abuser is removed. And until that day, pets will continue to suffer. Those enabling the abusers share equally in the blame. No one at MAS can ever say again, “I never saw any abuse” or “I don’t work in that area where the abuse occurs” or “Pet advocates take things out of context and exaggerate”. It’s public information, available for all to see. It’s been seen by those with the ability to do something about it but no action has been taken. There will apparently be no justice for the pets abused on the security camera footage. And it’s supposed to all be ok because now there’s been a class to teach the professional animal handlers about how to use a goddamn leash.
Sorry, no sale.