No-kill shelter debate heats up in Pennsylvania

No Gravatar

When the Humane League of Lancaster County (Pa.) announced this week it was going to be a no-kill shelter in February, it set off another debate on the issue of no-kill shelters.

No-kill advocates firmly believe in policies where no healthy pets are euthanized in shelters. Some areas have seen success in this effort, where the trends are better in terms of spaying and neutering and puppy mills.

The other side worries about the homeless pets turned away when these shelters reach capacity. This is a real concern in many areas of the country that have not caught up in reducing the rates of homelessness.

A post on the Philly Dawg blog quotes a representative of the Humane League as saying “strong licensing laws, spay/neuter initiatives and animal control programs” are needed in the local, county and state levels. And that – “Pet owners will need to take responsibility for their pets, and pet lovers will need to support life-saving programs throughout the community.”

This is true. But for example, some counties in my area do not have strong licensing laws or good spay/neuter initiatives – and too people are NOT taking responsibility for their pets. I write often about this issue in my local animal-welfare column and blog.

My continued view on this debate is that no-kill is the goal. But we have to get there. Until we have better regulations across the nation to shut down puppy mills and hold the people responsible who are creating the problem of homelessness, we will continue to have this problem.

In my home state, programs are place where at least some homeless pets are being transported to other states with shelter space. It is helping, but the area animal-welfare groups are overloaded with a constant stream of more homeless dogs and cats.

Until we serious as a nation in holding people accountable, this problem will go on.

I wrote this recently in my Animal Tales column –

Some pets enter shelters for more legitimate reasons. But far too many are there because they have been coldly discarded or someone failed to spay or neuter the parent dogs or cats. Or the dogs were purchased through a puppy mill and later developed physical or emotion problems.
At this point, the burden turns to taxpayers, to local rescue organizations and to the people who donate to these groups or shelters. So while one side creates the problem, the other side – the side  populated with compassionate people who care – pays for the costs.
So I keep going back to it. What is wrong with this picture? Why are we not placing the burden on those responsible for creating it?