Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mythbusters - The Public are Irresponsible with Animals

There she is again on our television screens.  Sad Sarah Mclachlan representing the ASPCA singing her sad song with puppy dog and kitten faces staring at you. Making you feel like animal cruelty is an insurmountable problem. We might as well all just throw up our hands in despair and give up. Or better yet, run and grab our checkbook and write a big fat check to the ASCPA because they can ward off all those evil people in the world that would harm  pets. It's a pretty grim picture they paint. I see that the HSUS is sending out a similar television message also.

We are evil, evil people. Not to be trusted with animals. Animals are better off in shelters where there is a good chance they will get sick or be killed when their time is up. The public is so irresponsible. Or are they? Who does this perception serve? It certainly doesn't serve animals well. It serves the pocketbooks of the large organizations.  Even though the statistics clearly show that more and more Americans are making pets valued members of the family,  they prefer to ignore that and paint the sordid picture of pet overpopulation and animal cruelty.

In reality, the numbers are showing that the majority of animals that need our help are the pit bulls, pit bull mixes and feral cats. Yet you don't see their pictures in the television ads. It's the cute puppies and kittens we see. Why don't the television ads tell the truth and the good news about the kindness of most people? My guess - Why kill the goose that laid the golden egg? The longer the charade goes on, the longer the money will pour in.

This attitude of mistrust can permeate down to our local shelters and rescues also. Overly restrictive adoption policies; judgmental shelter staff and volunteers; and the big red flag - shelter staff  that say they like animals better than people. Yikes. Probably time for a new job for those folks. Better yet, screen them out from the start.  If I was hiring I'd never hire anybody who said they liked animals more than people. Because we need people to adopt, foster, reclaim and volunteer with animals. Does your shelter and staff harbor an attitude of mistrust? Or do they embrace the public and trust them?

Here is the truth.  The figures are out. Americans spent $2 billion more on their pets in 2010 than in 2009.  That money came from the average, normal pet loving public with kids, a job, a family pet and a lifestyle that may not be immersed in animal welfare like ours is.

Pet lovers abound everywhere. We need to seek them out and recruit them. There are construction workers, lawyers, health care providers, teachers and salespeople that love pets. There are Democrats, Republicans and Independents that love pets. There are people of all religions, races and cultures that love pets. There are farmers, fishermen, hunters, meat eaters, and heaven forbid - yes, even dog breeders that love pets.

Don't make these people part of the problem. Make them part of the solution. Include them - don't exclude them. The basic premise of the No Kill philosophy begins with the fact that the public can and should be trusted.

Yes, there are cruel people. And we need to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. But the vast majority of Americans are good, hardworking, honest people that love animals. Go out and find them and welcome them. They are our yellow dots. They are the ones we need to get onboard our bus. They love pets and we need their good advice, their skills, their common sense and their support to pave the way to our No Kill goals.

One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life. ~E.M. Forster


  1. Love this article! There aren't enough vegans in America to get this thing done all by themselves. EVERYONE needs to get on board and be part of the No-Kill solution.

  2. It's good to hear that the dogs and animals in real danger are being recognized by the No Kill movement. Not that all shelter dogs and cats are not in danger if they are not being spayed and neutered and found homes for instead of being brought in, not advertised and then euthanized, but the pit bull breed and many feral cat colonies are in real trouble. Pit bulls are the breed of choice for bad public perception, people declaring them "mean dogs" based on stories and rumors, and for the way they have been raised by people who tortured and abused them for a source of income. Lives ended for human greed and ignorance.

    Personal property, that's the way the laws have seen animals. If someone damages my personal property, I want them to pay. The same should be true with animals. Laws need to be passed to put animal abusers and those who torture, abuse, and neglect them behind bars. Ths is a sign of a serious psychological issue that the courts need to see in order to deal with it. For those who willfully abuse and torture animals, jail sentences and heavy fines that go directly to the shelters in the area the perpetuators of these crimes inhabit are a good place to start.

    Spaying and neutering is a responsibility of the owners of animals, and responsible behavior and supervision of pets is also the responsibility of the owners. I have had to install and fix fences, buy collars and leashes, and get my dog to obedience classes to be a responsible pet owner. Oh, and I had to neuter him, as well. If you love your pet, and you respect those who might come in contact with that pet, this is what a responsible pet owner does.

  3. I like animals more than people; I always have; that's just who I relate to. But I give people the benefit of the doubt these days; I've adopted cats to people who maybe might not be considered premium adopters, but I felt that if I stayed in touch with them to help with any problems that came up, it would work.

  4. Very well said. I shared on Facebook. But I don't see what being vegan has to do with it (per anonymous). Cats and dogs are carnivores and need meat for a healthy diet.

  5. I have to say that although there is a good portion of the population of the public that is not irresponsible towards pets (obviously the part spending $2 billion per year), I rescue dogs and see the result of the other part of society.
    All one has to do is look at the postings on FB of crossposters of places like Lancaster in CA or in the south especially GA. Dogs are being dumped and killed by the dozens every week, not just Pits but every breed imaginable in double digits and in litters of puppies.
    Los Angeles County kills more dogs & cats than anywhere in the US (42,500 last year). This is a major city & it's surrounding areas. It is supposed to be filled with animal friendly people, yet I could show you literally hundreds of dogs and puppies (most purebred) killed there in the last few months. If there's such a lack of responsibility there, is that not scary?
    This country is overall moving in a good direction, but saving that the public is responsible towers animals invalidates the massacres that happen in shelters every day across the country. It gives the general public as false sense of security. Maybe the reminders of the suffering animals in those adds aren't so bad....

  6. I have to agree with the article being a foster home for many dogs over the years and running a doggy daycare you come across a lot of "good dog people" to summarize people as cruel is not really fair at all. There are lots and I mean lots of people that are amazing pet owners, why not advertise that? Maybe it is time to change to some positive publicity. Who wouldn't want to hear of a success story instead of the same old feel sorry for us puppy dog eyes. Instead of making people feel guilty maybe they should give them something good to go on. I have to say rescues are starting to use the same approach to raise money and I would love it if we could put a more positive spin on this.

    I also have to agree with the entire "faulty advertising" these organizations put up. I mean have you checked your local shelter adoptable pet list? I have and I can tell you at least 90% are pit bulls or some pit mix. Let's be honest about that, unless you go to an AKC rescue chances are that a majority of these adoptable dogs are pits. Why not put them in the advertisement instead of these cutsie little pups that probably won't have as tough of a time being adopted.

    Thanks so much for the article I am so glad someone is stepping outside the box and taking a different view on things! Categorizing humanity based on the actions of a handful of people is just ignorant.

    P.S I love what you said about liking animals more then people. (People tend to be a huge part when helping animals so start liking them a little more!)