Sunday, November 28, 2010

What No Kill Means to the Dogs of St. Louis

It means they aren't dead!

There is an emerging trend, albeit not a new one, for non-profit agencies to take over control or contract with government run animal control agencies. Some take over completely, meaning they use donations/grants from the public and grantmakers to run an animal control agency in lieu of taxpayer dollars. Some take over adoptions or the running of a shelter while animal control officers are paid via tax-payers funds to enforce laws.  I have mixed feelings on this, but that's not what this post is about.

The city of St. Louis used to kill more than half of all dogs entering their shelter. Those are horrible odds. In 2009, that meant 1,033 dogs were unceremoniously killed. In July of this year, a nonprofit, Stray Rescue, took over adoptions at the shelter.

And since then, they've killed three dogs - two for medical reasons, one for extreme aggression.

Last year, the city adopted out a grand total of 300 dogs.

Since the nonprofit took over - they've adopted out 120 dogs a month.

Amazing what a bit of ingenuity, well-managed funds and tenacity can mean for dogs.

So what does that mean for the dogs?

This is Sam. He is 8-yrs-old which, for a large-breed dog, like a Rottweiler, is getting up in the years.

Can you believe if he'd arrived six months ago, he'd already be dead? Wrong!! Now he rocks a green bandana and is looking for a retirement home where he'll be given butt massages and also be told how awesomely uneven his ears are - perfection!

Carlos here is a 3-yr-old mush-head. He would have been killed because he's a Pit Bull mix with an ugly, painful ear cropping. Oh, and he was scared of the world. Being afraid is often a reason why dogs are killed.

Now he's looking for his permanent digs where he can wag his butt at you and opine on the state of the world, like why do cats watch birds on tv, are they stupid or something? Stuff like that.

Brinx is a 4-yr-old mixed breed who has taken the WOE IS ME look to a whole new level, maybe the zenith of woeness.

Brinx would have been killed because she was sick and skinny when she arrived and her two puppies probably would have been killed too.

Now she gets to manipulate bipeds the world over with her sad doe-eyes and unusually large ears.

For these three dogs, no kill means BEING ALIVE. Such a simple pleasure, this being alive business. Not only that, but these three dogs will never be snuffed out because of space or treatable illnesses or because they are a bit shy. They, like all dogs entering this new shelter, will be evaluated as individuals, treated when it is reasonable and feasible to do so, and trained to be functioning members of human society. Most of these dogs are in foster homes and those that aren't receive extensive attention in the form of volunteers and trainers.

We should let dogs decide if they can handle a kennel environment before we cry "u r being mean", before we take a dog's life. That's permanent shit and it should damn well be avoided until all hope is lost. We don't need to "warehouse" dogs to provide them long-term care, and we don't need to create fear when none need exist.

Because these three dogs are alive. ALIVE! Six months ago, they wouldn't have stood a chance, but now they do. And that's what no kill means to the dogs of St. Louis. What it can mean for all dogs.

No comments: