04 September, 2013

Will The Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter Change Its Name To Kanawha Charleston Institute For Animal Undeadness?

What's happening at the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association animal shelter is a perfect example of the old saying that whoever frames the debate wins the debate. If the goal of animal welfare people is prevention of animal suffering, the no kill people may be on the losing side of the debate but if the goal is to keep as many animals as possible alive for as long as possible, then the people who have taken over the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association shelter will win. The question is, are the animals winning?

People who care about animals used to be concerned primarily with prevention of animal suffering. One big animal welfare organization has the words "Prevention of Cruelty To Animals" in its name. If that organization were to form today in the Kanawha Valley it would have to call itself "Prevention of the Death of Animals" or it wouldn't be able to raise money and would be accused of being "soft" on animal welfare. To satisfy the "no kill animal shelter" people, PETA would have to become People For the Prevention of the Death of Animals and HSUS would have to become Animal Immortality Society of the United States.

In the late 80s I accidentally and briefly stumbled into the forefront of what passed for a small animal rights movement in the Kanawha Valley when the emphasis was on prevention of suffering rather than animal immortality. Along with the late Rev. Bill Kirkland and a handful of other "animal lovers" who didn't even know each other's views on euthanasia or veganism made signs and staged a peaceful protect outside the Charleston Civic Center to express our displeasure over what we believed was an animal exploiting event. News cameras showed up. Reporters started interviewing us. Event ticket holders started heckling us and shouting questions we hadn't even asked each other. 

"Do you wear leather?"

"Do you eat meat?"

The crowd question that puzzled me most was this one: "Do you believe in abortion?"

When I got that question a few times I asked some of the hecklers what my position on abortion had to do with cruelty to animals.

"You tree-hugging animal rights people are always pro-abortion" came the answer. 

If he was right, he knew more about us than we knew about each other. I didn't know what my fellow protesters believed about abortion. I only knew that all of us were against animal suffering as each of us thought of it. I knew that some animal welfare people were vegetarians and that others were vegans but I hadn't asked any of my fellow protesters if they ate meat or wore leather. 

We're all more sophisticated than that now. We've read the books of Dr. Tom Regan and Dr. Peter Singer. College philosophy and ethics courses grapple with the responsibilities of humans toward sentient non-humans. Overall, I think that all this scholarly attention to how humans should treat non-humans is likely to result in better treatment and less suffering of animals but the no kill movement, I'm afraid, will actually result in more, not less, animal suffering. Some animals really are better off dead. Months or years in a cage at a no kill shelter is not a life worth living. I can't prove it, of course, but I suspect that if we could ask the animals if they would prefer a painless death to a life being trucked from no kill shelter to foster home to foster home to no kill shelter, many of them would choose painless death to what passes for life in the no kill world.

A euthanized animal can never again be tortured, starved, beaten or neglected by humans. A euthanized animal can no longer be broken hearted by a human who dumped him at an animal shelter. Dear reader: if you one day find me dead and unable to care for my 5 rescue cats, please either take them to your home and love them the way I do or take them to a good veterinarian and put them painlessly to sleep.

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1 comment:

  1. Agree entirely. Our little friends need to be well cared for in both life and even in the way they die. It nauseates me to see and hear what these "no-kill" shelters don't provide. They can't spend the time with every single animal that is needed to assure that there are no anxieties, plenty of love, plenty of exercise, clean conditions, etc. They can't provide the bond that these animals need to thrive and be happy. Folks have the wrong idea about these places. They walk in and see dogs wagging their tails, cats purring - time to take a bit of time and read up on the physiology of the creature. Dogs wag when they are anxious, aggressive, worried, sad, or just desperate for some love. It's called hope. Cats purr when they are in pain, anxious, fearful,or feeling threatened - it help to calm and reassure themselves.


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