Sunday, October 31, 2010

1.49 lbs? Animal Shelter Kills You!

Anne Arundel Animal Care and Control in Maryland created a hand-written policy 16 months ago requiring the automatic death of any puppy, kitten or young wildlife who enter the shelter and weigh 1.5 lbs or less. This isn't a novel policy, it's reflective of the draconic animal control paradigm in which any animal requiring a modicum of effort to care for is killed.

Now the shelter is coming under scrutiny from animal welfare groups concerned about the - I can't get over this - hand-written policy. For one, that's not a policy, that's a memo. For two, it's a stupid policy anyways.

The police officer who oversees animal control defends the policy as "necessary". I am not sure what is necessary, as in essential, about taking the lives of animals who may need nothing more than a few extra minutes of care a day. How is killing animals essential to the mission of an animal shelter? The officer trots out old reliable - young animals survival rate is "negligible" and they are more prone to disease. Has the shelter never heard of isolation, foster homes, or that thousands of puppies and kittens make it past the age of 3-weeks without a mother?

If the hand-written memo policy debacle isn't bad enough, the SPCA of Ann Arundel county is not second-guessing someone else's policy. If a protocol in place unnecessarily costs the lives of animals our society has deemed worthy of protection, then perhaps it's time to second-guess that policy. If animal control's police officers were electrocuting dogs or cats as their "euthanasia" policy, would the executive director of the SPCA not second-guess it? Now maybe the quote was taken out of context, but toeing the line, when it costs lives, just isn't right.

Euthanasia, the taking of another being's life, is a last-option taken only after all reasonable options have been exhausted. No medically or behaviorally treatable animal should be killed. Kittens and puppies who don't make the weight cut don't deserve death IF there are options available and IF the animals are otherwise healthy. Puppies and kittens who arrive at a shelter in critical condition and at death's door may be candidates for a "good death" that euthanasia provides. Otherwise, all reasonable efforts should be made to foster, heal and place these young animals.

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