I was listening to the Jeff Wagner talk show on the radio on Friday. He was discussing the terrible story of the 82 year old Milwaukee woman who was knocked to the ground by a stranger and sexually assaulted after she got off a bus near her home. The Milwaukee Police Department took THREE HOURS to respond. (here is a link to the story if you didn't hear about it). Jeff was quick to point out that he didn't feel it was the fault of any individual police officers (most of whom are really good people) but it was the fault of the system as a whole. Milwaukee has a dysfunctional police department with many problems that are causing rampant crime in the city.
I listened carefully to the callers who called in. They were outraged. They showed compassion for the woman and were angry that their tax money was funding such poor performance. I never heard one of them say that if people only stepped up to volunteer or donate to the police department that all of it's problems would be solved. I never heard one of them blame the woman for her attack. I never heard one of them attack Jeff, saying that he had no right to criticize the police department because he didn't work there or volunteer there.
There is a real disconnect when it comes to government-funded animal control services. Any attempt to shine light on shelter operations or the dysfunction within are met with the usual tired old phrase: "Adopt, volunteer, donate and foster". And if you don't do those things - well, you don't have the right to have a say in how your tax dollars are spent. And besides, it's all the public's fault anyways, that the shelter is killing animals. It doesn't matter if citizens work two jobs or volunteer their time elsewhere, perhaps at their church, or school or another animal organization. If they aren't at the shelter scooping poop and walking dogs they have NO RIGHT to expect the shelter to do any better.
But that is wrong. Just like we have the right and responsibility to expect excellent police protection, or fire protection, or garbage services, or snow removal - we have the right to expect excellent animal control services. It's time to lay the old mantras to rest. And it's time for us all to demand excellence. Our animals deserve it.
I loved this quote from No Kill Huntsville this week : "There are many in our community who tell us that we are too critical of the city; that the city has made a lot of progress and we should just be satisfied with that and move on. To those people we would ask this question: but what if it was your dog who was destroyed? What if it was your cat?" The link to the entire text can be read by clicking here.
I wrote on this same topic in May 2011. - The Right to Criticize - Mine, Yours and Everyone's