Facilities which kill healthy/treatable pets do so without cause and in spite of clear evidence of proven alternatives such as exist in the dozens of open admission no kill shelters throughout the country. Pounds may or may not assign a particular “reason” for the killings: space, illness, injury, too young, etc. Whether or not a “reason” is provided, there is no justification for killing healthy/treatable shelter pets. While euthanasia of pets who are medically hopeless and suffering (or dogs deemed dangerous by a qualified party) occurs in all shelters, it is the only time a pet’s life is ended at no kill shelters. At pet killing facilities, lives are ended regularly based on arbitrary criteria such as date of impound. This is different from euthanasia and I believe it’s appropriate to call it killing.
There are a growing number of kill shelters who, in an apparent effort to gain positive media attention and bilk unsuspecting donors, have jumped on the import bandwagon. That is, they “rescue” pets from other kill shelters, often from the southeast, and have them transported to their facilities. The animals (usually dogs) arrive at their destination and are presumably evaluated for adoption. If a dog is sick or otherwise deemed unadoptable by the pet killing facility, he may be killed. This is obviously not a rescue.
But there is a phenomenon, less obvious to the public, but apparent just the same, called displacement killing. Any facility which kills healthy/treatable pets and then imports more animals from other pounds is guilty of displacement killing. That is, some of the healthy/treatable animals already at the facility at the time the imports arrive will be displaced and killed. Again, the facility may or may not provide a “reason” for the killings such as space, etc.
A healthy senior dog whom the kill shelter has failed to market successfully might be displaced by an imported puppy. The staff might attempt to justify the killing of the older dog by saying things like, “No one wants him because he’s old”, “We’ve kept him a long time already and still no interest from adopters” or “Wouldn’t it be better to use his cage for a puppy who will probably be adopted more quickly and for a higher price?” This is displacement killing.
A dog with a treatable medical condition such as mange might be displaced by an imported dog with an attractive coat. The killing of the dog with mange might be explained away as, “Why spend resources on treating a mange dog who will take some time before his coat returns to a healthy appearance which would be appealing to adopters when we are getting this dog whose coat already looks nice?”. This is displacement killing.
The killing might not correlate directly, one to one, between the existing animals and the imported animals. It may be a general excuse for killing such as, “We need to weed out all the coughing dogs before the imports arrive so our population doesn’t get them sick” or “Let’s depopulate the large dogs, which we have a disproportionate number of, in order to highlight the small dogs we are importing who we know will be in high demand”. This is displacement killing.
Displacement killing may be even more vague. It may simply be a matter of a kill shelter maintaining its live release rate of say, 60% while importing dogs. This too is displacement killing. Had the additional animals never been imported and the shelter maintained its 60% live release rate, more lives would have been saved – those of animals already at the facility. While one could argue that lives were still saved – those of the imported animals – it must be considered that the imports may have been adopted had they been left at their original shelter or might have been rescued by a no kill rescue group or shelter where no displacement would have occurred.
I am all for transporting shelter pets to where they are wanted. This is how I got Surrey from TN. But transporting Surrey to my house in SC did not displace any pets since I do not kill animals. Rather, it freed up a space at the pound where she was on the kill list. I know there are many other situations where shelter pets can be transported in order to save lives. But importing additional animals into a facility which already kills pets is counterproductive.