Monday, April 13, 2009
Euthanasia is a touchy, emotional subject. Some people get upset because animal shelters and animal rights organizations like PETA must euthanize animals (many of whom are abused, aggressive, and otherwise unadoptable). People need to understand that a painless injection of sodium pentobarbital, administered by a trained, caring individual, is a merciful alternative to a life of misery and loneliness. As long as people buy animals from breeders and pet stores and don't spay or neuter their animal companions, open-admission shelters and organizations like PETA will be forced to do society's dirty work. Every year, between three and four million dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters alone. There simply aren't enough homes for them all. Shoving animals into cages or kitchen cabinets, or warehousing them wherever else there is space is not a humane or effective solution. It can be hard to accept this though. I once volunteered at a no-kill cat shelter. There were cages full of cats everywhere and countless more cats littered the floor, the kitchen counter, and everywhere else there was a spot. They were fed regularly, but they were starved for attention. The few volunteers spent as much time with them as possible, but between dishing out plate after plate of food, changing pan after pan of litter, and trying to keep the place presentable, there was just never enough time. Too many people came by to drop off unwanted cats (so many, in fact, that they were often turned away) and too few came by to adopt. No-kill shelters may assuage our consciences, but they are simply not in the animals' best interests. They're often filled beyond capacity and cannot provide adequate care for the animals. Animals at these shelters often spend years living in cages with little human contact. Many become withdrawn, depressed, or acquire other anti social behaviors that further decrease their chances of being adopted. Because of space limitations, no-kill shelters often can't take new animals in. So while a no-kill shelter can claim that it doesn't kill animals that doesn't mean that it "saves" them either. If "refused" animals are lucky, they're taken to another shelter that does euthanize. Others, however, may be dumped by the roadside, where they suffer fates far worse than a humane death by sodium pentobarbital.Euthanasia may be unpopular, but those who truly care about animals must do what's best for them. They deserve a peaceful release from a world in which they are often abused and neglected. All too often, the only kind word or gentle touch a homeless animal ever receives is from the person who must end the animal's life.
Of course, open-admission shelters and groups like PETA wouldn't need to euthanize animals if people would sterilize their animals; adopt animals from full-service shelters instead of buying them, and push for mandatory spay/neuter legislation.
To learn more about PETA's position on euthanasia, see http://www.peta.org/.
To find out how you can help support PETA's Animal Birth Control campaign, and its mobile SNIP ("Spay Neuter Immediately Please") clinic, see www.HelpingAnimals.com.
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