Reliable data tells us that, of the people who will add a pet to the family within the next year, approximately 17 million of them have not yet decided on a source for that pet. We have approximately 3 million friendly, healthy pets – or pets with treatable conditions such as colds – being killed every year in U.S. shelters. So we have 3 million shelter pets to market to 17 million people each year. This is an achievable goal. It also completely disproves the notion that there aren’t enough homes for shelter pets. And it’s not just Maddie’s Fund and the No Kill Advocacy Center saying so – the Humane Society of the Unites States now publicly agrees. Pet overpopulation is a myth.
Not only are there enough homes for all the shelter pets being killed in America – there are way too many homes. In other words, if we were to convince through marketing even half of this group of 17 million to adopt from shelters, we’d run into a serious shortage. Because the fact is we don’t have nearly enough shelter pets for everyone who wants to add a pet to the family this year. But right now, that’s not the problem.
The problem is that many people who would potentially be interested in saving a pet from the pound do not feel inclined to actually go there and adopt. There are numerous reasons for this – and they are all readily fixable:
1. The shelter is depressing. Who wants to visit a place that functions primarily as a pet killing facility?
Solution: Make lifesaving the primary function of the shelter. Reach out to the community and engage them in your lifesaving mission. Make the shelter environment warm and inviting, reflective of your focus to find homes for every healthy/treatable pet under your roof.
2. The shelter is closed during the hours most people can visit. Too many facilities are closed on evenings and weekends.
Solution: Stay open on evenings and weekends. Make sure the community knows you are open. Run promotions during those hours.
3. The shelter doesn’t have the specific type of pet the adopter wants – e.g. a calico cat or a dog weighing less than 15 pounds or a pet they feel a connection with when they meet.
Solution: Stop killing animals. The reason shelters often don’t have the type of pet people are looking for is because the staff is killing them.
Shelter directors and their staff are needlessly killing an estimated 3 million healthy/treatable pets every year. These are the animals who would have been adopted by some of the 17 million people looking to add a pet to the family this year and open to the idea of shelter adoption. Sometimes shelter directors make themselves feel better by labeling these animals “unadoptable” which is, at best, delusional and at worst, an outright lie created for the purpose of fulfilling pet killers’ desire to inflict violence upon shelter pets.
The math speaks for itself. The proven solutions to common problems faced by all shelters are available. So why are so many shelters still killing animals?
There are more than enough homes. The animals are wanted. People are out there every day of the week looking for the very pets being killed and thrown into the dumpster by regressive shelter directors. How much longer will we as a society allow this to continue? There ought to be a law.
The Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) is model legislation which takes away the discretion of shelter directors to kill randomly and in secret. We can’t wait any longer for shelter directors to stop killing because it makes sense and it’s the right thing to do. Like so many social injustices in our society, this one too will only be remedied by legislation:
The goal was never mere promises that we would strive to do better as a society. The focus was always on changing the law to eliminate the ability to do otherwise. The suffrage movement did not seek discretionary permission from election officials to vote, an ability that could be taken away. Its goal was winning the right to vote, a right guaranteed in law. The civil rights movement did not seek the discretionary ability to sit at the front of the bus or to eat at the same lunch counters. Its goal was winning the right to do so, a right guaranteed in law. Without legal rights, one’s fate is contingent on who the election official is, who the restaurant owner is, who the mayor is and in the case of animals entering shelters, who the director is.
“We’re doing the best we can” isn’t good enough. Blaming the public does not save lives. We are a humane society and we don’t want pets needlessly killed in our shelters. We want our shelter directors to do the work we pay them for – to shelter animals during their time of need. Waiting for them to feel like doing their jobs is not going to cut it. Legislation is needed.
If you want to be able to find the pet you feel a special bond with when you meet him at your local shelter, the director needs to stop killing animals and start doing his job. CAPA can help you find your next pet.