Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Blame Game - How Has It Helped You Today?

On a previous post about a shelter making improvements (after pressure) that would reduce the kill rate and improve adoptions, I received an interesting comment:
Don't like them being killed at all? Exactly what the hell are they supposed to do with all those dogs and cats, most of which are dropped off by irresponsible pet owners who don't give a damn what happens to them and just want to put the responsibility on someone else? How bout you take em?
Ignore the specious logic.
Ralph being all sad
At the root of my problem with this comment is the blame game. Where has it gotten us? I volunteered at two different shelters for nearly seven years. I am not one to argue against irresponsible behavior being behind most of the reasons people drop off animals at shelters. Moving. Not castrating animals (who get loose frequently). Cat sprays. Modifiable behavioral problems. Too old. Too young. Not the right color.

I admit after my time at a hi-kill county shelter, I became angry with people. It was difficult seeing more than half of the dogs exit the shelter dead and more than 70% of the cats. I've been in the kill room, and yeah I harbored a lot of ill will towards who I felt was ultimately responsible - the public.

In some ways, I feel the same. I am not angry, not anymore. It hasn't been a useful feeling in this regard. I believe people are generally good, but that they do stupid things. That stupid things affect other living beings is disheartening. Now I just want people to have real-world solutions to prevent them from doing stupid things.

In other ways, I reflect on what the shelter did and didn't do to find placement for these animals. Did they blame the public - people who also adopt animals - too? Did they do everything in their power to significantly improve the adoption rates AND the education of people BEFORE they dropped animals off at the shelter? If I am to be honest and critical, no they did not. They did a lot to reduce their kill rates from 80% to 55%, but as a whole they did a lot more blaming than they did not killing.

Here's the deal, people. We pay animal control agencies to enforce anti-cruelty laws, prevent rabies outbreaks, and in our modern society, find homes for dogs and cats. Our modern society expects a certain level of effort in that regard. We see animal control agencies as agents responsible for the care and placement of animals, no matter how they ended up there. Once that dog or cat enters an animal shelter, all of their care, all of their chances at placement are in the hands of those running the place. These animals are now their responsibility.

Blame the public all you want. See if it makes life better for the dogs and cats. Blame the shelters all you want. See if it makes life better for the dogs and cats.

The Pook/Oscar cat: You do not exist, humanOr, alternatively, stop blaming. Start acting. Pro-active solutions exist. No one likes to be told they're bad or wrong as human beings for their mistakes. We just don't. But we are innovative creatures. Let's remember we flew to the moon. We can transfer hearts and other organs. We've mapped the genome of humans and other species. I believe we are creative enough to implement procedures, protocols and solutions that foment change, that improve an animal's chance at a new home. Let's educate. Let's create. Let's move forward. But let's try it without all the name-calling, all the blaming. When we see a problem, let's find an answer.

I don't think that's such an extremist position. It's pretty mainstream, this finding of solutions business. It's sort of what we all do in our daily lives. I want to see a day when all treatable dogs and cats find homes. I want to see a day when there just aren't unwanted animals. We can do that, but only if we're willing to start working together toward a solution. Life is so much more fun when you're working toward something rather than fighting against it.

-Marji B.

No comments: