Friday, July 11, 2008

Why Exposing Bad Shelters is Good Policy

Recently a leader of a rescue group complained about my articles exposing wrongdoing at county animal shelters in Michigan. She seems to think that eventually things will change if everyone is just quiet. The shelter she was talking about is one that used illegal and inhumane techniques to kill animals and also does nothing to find homes for pets. Apparently, that shelter in recent months sent some animals to the local humane society and that was somehow a big step, progress for heavens sake. But the local humane society is a high kill facility, in the hall of shame, with an abysmal adoption rate of only 13%. How is sending animals to that place any type of progress? The rational of the complainer seems to be, if everyone had just been quiet about the illegal killing methods and the lack of effort, well they would have sent some more animals to be killed at the humane society.

I have a better plan, how about this - follow the law, do not use cruel techniques to kill animals. Do some actual work, get an adoption program going, find homes for the pets that end up in your shelter. Same goes for that humane society. What the hell are they doing? Taking donations to kill thousands of pets - maybe it is time for some new leadership and staff at both shelters. Find people with knowledge who are committed to life, not making excuses or rationalizing killing.

Last year the Flint Journal started covering the Genessee County Animal Control Shelter. The stories exposed the high kill rate at the shelter (over 60% for dogs, 90% for cats). Since the initial story, the Flint Journal has continued covering the issue of the animal shelter. Just yesterday, the editor of the Flint Journal challenged the County Commission to change the mission of the animal shelter into that of a pet adoption center. The time is now because the good old boy animal control director who allowed the killing finally retired and the county is searching for a new director. Without the steady coverage and exposes of the Flint Journal, there would be nothing good happening at Genessee County Animal Control. The Flint Journal is doing just what the media should do, make certain that information about what the government is doing gets to the citizens.

Change will not occur without knowledge. Knowledge comes only from the pursuit of the truth and then, letting the public know the truth. Hiding the truth of what is happening to Michigan animals has led to more killing, not less. Activists are necessary to push politicians to make real improvements in programs. Hopefully more journalists will take the road provided by the Flint Journal and begin investigating and reporting about their county animal shelters. Until then, will keep exposing illegal killing and bad practises at animal shelters throughout Michigan.

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite founding fathers - Benjamin Franklin:
"He that lives upon hope will die fasting."

Flint Journal Editorial: The Goal of Animal Control Should be Adoptions
Genessee County Shelter Profile


Anonymous said...

I want to really thankyou for publishing your article about this issue. I did know that shelters killed pets until I watched in horror on youtube that pets were being killed using gas. I live in Canada and I want to research if they use these methods for pets at shelters. Why is there not just no kill shelters in Canada and the U.S? I absolutely love animals and I don't know how these people sleep at night honestly. They are cruel and murderers.

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