This photo of a new sign at Arlington Animal Services in Texas appeared on Facebook:
Facebook commenters appeared to be grateful for the sign, even thanking the pound for putting it up. The idea being that the sign might discourage some people from surrendering their pets.
First off, I’m not thanking any pound for putting up a sign that announces they kill animals. I’ll thank them when they stop killing animals. Secondly, why would we want to discourage people from surrendering their pets when they are unable or unwilling to properly care for them? Taking care of pets in need is what animal shelters are for. It’s what we want people who can no longer care for their pets to do. If this sign deters someone from surrendering a pet, are the circumstances that lead to the shelter visit suddenly going to change? Will the terminally ill owner become healthy again? Will the evicted family be allowed back into their home? And if it’s a case where the surrendering party is truly irresponsible and uncaring – and I don’t believe that most owners are – will they transform into a responsible and compassionate owner after seeing the sign?
Something will happen to the pets who were going to be surrendered to the shelter but whose owners changed their minds after seeing the sign. We don’t know what that will be. But it’s hardly something to celebrate.
In addition to deterring potential surrendering parties, I have little doubt this sign will also deter potential volunteers and adopters. The majority of Americans believe killing shelter pets is wrong. They don’t want to go into a place and pet, talk to and love on animals they know may be killed after they leave. Who would? It’s heartbreaking.
Instead of hoping to drive people away from our public shelters, how about we demand our shelters do their jobs and protect the community’s pets from harm until they can be rehomed? I’ll chip in for that sign.