Before I begin, I want to make it clear that this is not intended to slam on animal shelters who euthanize their animals in order to make ends meet. Even though I completely disagree with their practices, I understand that kill shelters don’t want to see animals die. I understand they do what they do because they feel it is their only option. Even though those shelters have put down a lot of animals, they have also given 1,000’s of dogs a second chance at life.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized each year in animal shelters across the United States. This is for a multitude of reasons. Many of the dogs are euthanized because of diseases, sickness, injury, or aggressive tendencies.
However, other reasons include shelters becoming overcrowded and underfunded. Many dogs at kill shelters are euthanized because they have been there too long and the shelter can’t afford to keep them. Even though I disagree with this tactic, it is exactly is why I decided to adopt my Pitbull from a kill shelter.
I do not support kill shelters and their notion to euthanize dogs. I understand it is a complex issue, but I still wish they would exhaust other possibilities before euthanizing good dogs. I also wish shelters were more open about their stances and policies on euthanizing dogs. Understandably so, many animal shelters try to hide the fact they are a kill shelter.
If kill shelters were more open about their euthanizing policies, then more people would feel inclined to adopt. When animal shelters hide the fact that they are a kill shelter, they are doing a disservice to the dogs. When people don’t know a shelter is a kill shelter, they are less motivated to shop rather than adopt. People are also more motivated to surrender their family pet if they do not recognize the shelter as a kill shelter.
So why did I adopt from a kill shelter if I don’t agree with their morals?
The answer is simple: I wanted to save a life. I knew without a doubt, adopting a Pitbull from a kill shelter would save a life. I’ll never forget the day I walked into that shelter and saw my Pit baby, Lila. She was in a cage isolated from the rest of the dogs. Her cage had a sign posted on it that said, “Do not enter. This dog is PG 18.” Depsite her calm demeanor, her Pitbull status had her labeled as “aggressive.” This label meant kids could not play with her at the shelter, she could not be adopted by anyone under the age of 21, there was a background check required in order to adopt her, and I would be required to be put in a registry.
The red tape behind adopting a Pitbull not only adds to the negative stigma but also makes people less inclined to adopt one. Not because they believe Pitbulls are aggressive, but because they don’t want to deal with bureaucracy. Fortunately, I am a young, single, Ph.D. student with no kids. This qualified me to adopt her. After 72 hours of paperwork, background checks, and other red tape (red tape that I would not have had to deal with if I had adopted a different breed), she was mine! Even though I was technically contributing to a kill shelter, I still know in my heart I saved a life. * Insert cliché “who saved who” adoption quote here *
To all of the wonderful no-kill animal shelters out there, thank you so much for exhausting all of your resources to ensure a dog is not unjustly killed! Even to the kill shelters, I appreciate what you do for the dogs you saved. I know you all try your best to help dogs in need. To all my fellow animal lovers who purposely avoid kill shelters because you do not support their cause, please reconsider!
I understand the ethical and moral conflict of supporting a kill shelter by buying a dog from one but do it for the dog. Don’t look at it as supporting a kill shelter. Look at it as an opportunity to save a dog from a bad circumstance. The dog didn’t choose to be put in a kill shelter. So don’t punish the dog because you disagree with the shelter’s kill policies.
If you want to save a dog’s life, check out the “Dogs in Danger Website.” It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but here you can see dogs in your area that are at risk of being euthanized. You can save a life the same way I did.