A life is a life

Open admission shelters say they "humanely" kill animals, but is there really a humane way to kill animals?

A life is a life

Think of a happy dog, living with a nice, loving family, well-fed, nice to all people. He’s part of the family; one of the daughter’s best friends as long as she can remember, seeing as they got him when she was two, but now she’s 15.

Now imagine the backyard gate is accidentally left open, and the dog gets out. He’s picked up by nearby animal control and taken to a shelter down the street. The family panics when they realize the dog is gone and starts searching; he’s nowhere to be found. They call the shelter and ask if they have the dog, but they say they don’t. The family searches frantically. The girl worries that her best friend may be lost to her.

The mother posts online to see if anyone has seen him. The next day, a friend comments a picture of their dog taken off the shelter website. They go to the shelter and see their dog, yet they are told that they will have to pay $180 for their dog or else he will be euthanized within a matter of days. The money was for keeping their dog overnight when the shelter distinctly said they did not have the dog the day before. The girl’s father becomes frustrated seeing as they barely have enough money to get through the month let alone another $100 to save a dog who could die within weeks. The daughter begins to cry, worrying she might lose him sooner than expected. She wasn’t ready.

The girl was devastated. She cried until she could not anymore. She couldn’t sleep the night he was gone. I know this because I am the girl. This happened to my dog, Elvis. A shelter took $180 from my brother for my dog that they said they didn’t have. One mistake could’ve killed my best friend.

Kill shelters or open admission shelters are animal shelters that accept all animals without appointment or limitations. As a result, these shelters often have to euthanize animals due to lack of space or if the animal is deemed behaviorally unfit or unhealthy. According to the ASPCA, “Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).” That’s 2.7 million chances for their happiness in the trash.

They say that the animals are “humanely euthanized,” but there is no way to humanely euthanize an animal. It’s just their fancy way of making killing an animal not sound as bad. Animals have feelings; they have thoughts. They aren’t supposed to be expendable. They may not be able to speak in a way humans understand, but they should have a chance. They shouldn’t be killed off because they aren’t nice or cute or young. Every animal deserves life.

The animals deemed behaviorally unfit or unhealthy or too old to be adopted are the first ones to go. If an animal was a stray picked up off the street, of course it’s going to be a little rough or upset. It’s been fending for itself on the street. It still has a chance. If an animal is a little old, it still has life left. It still has a chance. If an animal attacks due to fear, it deserves a chance to change. Every single animal deserves a chance to be happy and loved.

If an animal is in pain and needs to be “put out of it’s misery” or if it has rabies and hurt someone really bad, euthanization can be acceptable, but if they are just killing off animals because they ran out of space, then it’s just ridiculous. They have no right to take an animal’s life.

There are so many more ways to fix this problem. One of those being fostering: families taking in the extra animals and caring for them until a family is ready to adopt them. Giving the animals love, showing them what a family is like until they have one of their own can save them. Letting old dogs live out the rest of their days until they’re ready to go on their own terms, or letting scared dogs feel loved until they’re ready to be in a family. A temporary home.

Animals love people unconditionally. Why can’t we do the same? Why can’t we love them all the way they love us?