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Why You Should Actually Support 'Kill Shelters'

Your hate might be misguided.

Image Credit: Minda Haas Kuhlmann

I know, I know... am I crazy?! Support places that murder healthy animals? It sounds ridiculous when you say it like that, but hear me out. First off, we need to dive into what a "kill shelter" even is. The term "kill shelter" is given to places that euthanize healthy and adoptable dogs, cats, and everything in between. This means the animals can be completely adoptable. As in, they're not just healthy, but sweet, friendly, and playful; puppies and even kittens, too. Yes, the perfect family pet in a lot of cases, but why? Why would anyone do such a thing and how on earth could I support that? Well, we have to go even deeper into why euthanizing a healthy animal is even an accepted thing in the first place. It seems rather barbaric but is, in fact, a requirement for these organizations. They don't enjoy doing it and the workers are just as sad as you are, trust me.

Kill Shelter is a blanket term for any place that kills healthy animals, but in most cases, these kill shelters are the local animal control or, in some cases, a humane society. Whatever the case, they are a Municipal Shelter, which means they are run by the local government. They are in a strict contract and are given a budget that they are obligated to stick to. With this contract comes the issue. Well, it's not really the issue in the long run. The contract forces them to take in every animal that comes to them, also known as Open Admission. This means they take every stray, every owner surrender, and every critter that isn't a wild animal. Sick, aggressive, untrained—you name it and they take it. Without this contract, these animals would have nowhere to go, so while being open admission is cause for problem, it's not the reason animals are being euthanized at an alarming rate.

It isn't just the euthanizing that has demonized these Municipal Shelters, but the other shelters and rescues that pull from them and the general public themselves that have given them a bad rap. A Private Shelter, known also as a nonprofit, is usually Limited Admission. This means they don't have to take in every animal. They can turn away anyone they want at any time. If they're full, they can say no. They can even refuse to accept certain breeds and certain temperaments. If a dog seems aggressive or sick, they can turn it away. This isn't as heartless as it sounds. By refusing certain animals or even a whole group of animals, like never accepting owner surrenders or strays, they give the adoptable animals they do have a huge chance at finding a forever home, which means they can pull from the Municipal Shelter and save more animals. This also means that those animals they turned away will end up in those same Municipal Shelters. It is a vicious cycle, but there is a way to change it.

There is a way to end "kill shelters" once and for all and no, it isn't forming a picket line in front of their building, writing a letter to the government, or any amount of advocating toward the cause. No, this has everything to do with support. Some Municipal Shelters are so bad, they give others a bad name. They're dirty and the animals are sick and dying, but the people that work and volunteer there didn't do that on purpose. It isn't that they don't care (in most cases), it's that they don't have the resources to fix the problem. Not enough volunteers, not enough money, and not enough love. This isn't to say there isn't a bad shelter or rescue out there that is run by evil people, but here's where the support helps the majority that are good, or try to be. If we shower these Municipal Shelters with love and donations, they can keep more animals alive. If you volunteer for them, the facility can stay cleaner and be a better place for the animals. If you foster for them, they now have more space for the many animals that pour in constantly. They can also offer more programs, such as a low cost spay and neuter clinic and other helpful, educational classes or curriculum that moves us closer and closer to a world that doesn't have a pet overpopulation problem.

Without your advocating and cooperation with things like spaying and neutering and education on breeds, helping to end backyard breeding, and proper animal care, people will continue to be irresponsible and the Municipal Shelters will continue to be flooded with animals. If they have the space, no animal dies; therefore, if they aren't always overloaded, the euthanasia stops. These organizations do not want to kill perfectly good best friends, but there is only so much space inside their building. Some places are so overcrowded that animals are only given a day or two before they are euthanized, especially breeds like American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pitbull Terriers, or those that resemble such breeds. With your support in fostering, donating, adopting, and volunteering, these Municipal Shelters can make a turn for the better and euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals will be a distant memory.

While this isn't something that will happen overnight, I do hope this has been somewhat eye opening and that maybe you will think twice before lifting your nose to a "kill shelter" in the future. Do not be angry with the staff or even the system, but turn your attention to why those animals are in the shelter in the first place. That is where the problem truly lies and that is where not just your anger, but education and advocating should really be focused. This isn't to say stop supporting Limited Admission shelters and rescues. By donating, volunteering, fostering, and adopting through them, they can open up space in the "kill shelters." Any form of support is moving us forward to ending the needless killing of our "unwanted" dogs, cats, and other homeless animals, but showing hatred toward these animal controls and other Municipal Shelters is not the way to do it.

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