mel_2512 asked in PetsOther - Pets · 1 decade ago

To volunteer at animal shelter that euthanizes... conflict of principles?

I wanted to volunteer at a local animal shelter. I got the application and talked to one of the staff who was very excited to have someone help them out over the weekend.

When I went home to fill the application out the last question said:

"Animal care and control has been given the unfortunate responsibility to euthanize (humanly destroy) over 58% of the animals impounded at our shelter each year. This can become an emotional and stressful situation even for our own staff. Please write a statement bellow on how you feel about animal euthanasia at animal shelters"

I was horrified!! I got my cat from that shelter 5 years ago because I thought it was a no-kill shelter. I am now conflicted because I am not sure if I should help support a facility that "humanely destroys" animals (there's an oxymoron if there is ever been one!) because I feel that by helping them I am supporting them and aiding them to keep their doors open. I am sure, or at least hope that most people that work there do the "humane destruction" because they feel they have to not because they want to, but I believe that any life is better than no life at all.

Programs like Alley Cat Allies which neuter and spays feral cats and let them go is something I fully support, but killing animals just because a home for them cannot be found sounds horrible.

What are your thoughts?

10 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Hi. I can totally understand your conflict, & I'm sorry that you feel this way about volunteering at a shelter. I do commend you for wanting to volunteer & maye a public shelter isn't for you. But maybe I can help you in your decision.

    You have 2 main types of shelters: Private & public. Private shelters can be selective on the type of animals that they take in based upon the location of where the animal was found, breed of the animal, adoptability, & age. Those private shelters are usually smaller & receive their funding through gifts, grants, etc, & not through tax dollars from the city, county, or state government. Because Private shelters can be selective, they can turn animals away & can keep animals at their shelter longer to give them a better chance of being adopted. These shelters are known as "low kill" or "no kill" shelters. But they will euthanize animals to prevent suffering, or if the animal is terminally ill. There is no such thing as an animal shelter that doesn't humanely euthanize-euthanasia is only done for extreme cases.

    Public shelters can't turn any animal away, unless it's from another jurisdiction. So, whereas Private shelters can be selective about the animals they take in (to include animals that were adopted out from their own shelter), public shelters have to take in EVERYTHING, no matter how many animals a person brings in, no matter how abused the animals were, no matter how screwed up their prior owners left them (to the point that they would be too dangerous for another person to adopt out). These are the shelters that humanely euthanize animals. And these shelters outnumber the low/no kill shelters by a substantial amount.

    Although Public shelters are usually much larger & have more room for more animals, they fill up very quickly. Since these shelters can't turn animals away & fill up very quickly, pets can be humanely euthanized after as little as 3-10 days business days after the animal was brought in.

    Private organizations like Alley Cats, Best Friends, & others are private rescue organizations that do above & beyond to find animals homes. However, they have to turn pets away because there is such an overwhelming problem in the US with animal overpopulation. If every man, woman & child in the US adopted a pet, there would still be millions of unwanted pets euthanized a year. And when the shelters keep those animals for months at a time, the reality is they get sick & start developing behavioral problems (especially the dogs). I can't tell you how many times when I used to go to work I saw a really good dog who was ok with other dogs & people become dog aggressive & unpredictable with people. Dogs are social creatures, & to keep them in a cage with 4 or 5 other dogs with little human contact outside of feeding & cleaning cages because we were overcrowded will drive them nuts.

    So, saying all of that, I know that public shelters especially need help, but if you can't handle the high kill rate, try to volunteer with a rescue or low/no kill shelter. You can help with public information to help them know the reasons they should spay/neuter. You can get to know a pet or 2 & recommend that pet to a member of the public wanting to adopt. You can teach a dog command to help with their adoptability.

    It is horrible to kill animals just because we can't find a good home for them, but some people are very irresponsible. Don't judge those who work/volunteer at the kill shelters too harshly. They are doing the best they can against very difficult odds.

    Source(s): Former Animal Care Tech @ City of LA shelter for 2yrs 9.5 yrs experience as Army Vet Tech
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I had a very similar issue when I applied to work at the Denver Dumb Friends League. There is actually no such thing as a no kill shelter. All shelters at some point have to euthanize, whether it be because the animal is way too aggressive to ever happily live with people or because of a medical issue. Part of the job I applied for said I have to participate in the euthanasia. Keep in mind i'm not talking about volunteering but working. I initially did not want to have anything to do with euthanasia and so it prevented me from applying. But after thinking about it and most importantly talking to the people who work there, I changed my mind and applied.

    I do not support euthanasia on healthy animals that have no behavior issues. The Dumb Friends League does euthanize for animals not passing behavior tests and that is actually partly why I want the job. If I can help train an animal to pass that test, then I can help save a life, and I believe that I can make a difference to a lot of animals out there by working with them. Still if they were a shelter that killed animals just because they were not placed, I don't think I would be able to handle that.

    Statistically, animals, given the overpopulation, have to be put down. If not at your shelter than some place else. If they were not, they would die very miserable deaths out alone on the streets. I think with feral cats and the Alley Cat Alley Org you mentioned, it is a different scenario and I support them too. But what you have to consider is that shelters only have so much money and of course space. So if you think about it, spending thousands of dollars to help correct a dog with a behavior problem that will never really be fixed, and putting him in a home where he will likely be triggered and then returned to the shelter to await yet another home where he will just repeat this episode is no life for a dog. Dogs need stability and they do tend to loose it a litte after they have been in a shelter for too long. It's kind of like keeping you locked up in a nice porta-potty. There is no quality of life. But rather than use all these limited resources on one dog, they can put them towards maybe 20. So by denying those 20 a chance because this dog was here first is pretty cruel, I think.

    This is a very individual decision. It is you who will be going in there every week and it is you who has to live with yourself. If you are not comfortable with the shelter's policies' then don't push yourself. But I will remind you someone does need to do what they do. If you don't want to actually interact with the animals because you think you will get attached, ask them if you can help them with other things like phone calls, filing etc. Good luck and I'm sure whatever you decide it will be the right choice.

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  • 1 decade ago

    With animals who don't find a home, what are they supposed to do? Let those animals run free to starve, get injured, killed or abused? Close their doors to new animals with more potential of being adopted because they are completely full of animals people don't want?

    As long as they are euthanized humanely, which they are unless the place still uses gas chambers, I don't really see an issue beyond simple pet overpopulation because many people don't spay or neuter their pets. I volunteer at my local humane society, it gives animals the best shot possible through special events, transferring, featuring in the news stations/papers, and it's not uncommon for animals to be kept for over a month, but it can't keep them forever waiting, especially because of space since we accept every animal brought in, so inevitably some are humanely euthanized. Yes its sad, but I believe it's preferable that they have a peaceful death rather than live poorly on the streets, in a bad home, or in the shelter their whole lives. I know I'd rather die peacefully than live a life like that for a long time.

    What about the dogs that have bitten? Or have behavior issues that make them unsafe and a liability to whoever owns them? Should they not be humanely euthanized?

    Also, the sad truth about many "no-kill" shelters is that THEY don't kill, but after awhile they will transfer their unadopted pets to other shelters, ones that will euthanize it.

    As a humane society volunteer, yes it saddens me when I think that an animal is going to be euthanized, but I think its a necessary thing that in a lot of cases is better for the animals in the end.

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  • 1 decade ago

    First off you would be a volunteer and never have to witness or be a part of the euthanasia's. Humane euthanasia "humanely destroys" is term meaning lethal injection, which is painless death. I worked for a shelter that euthanized animals. The shelter gave me mixed emotions, I was thrilled to help the animals who could be helped and saddened for the once who could not be helped. I worked harder for the animals and found as many as I could new, great homes. I learned their doggie-personality and helped owners connect with dogs they would have not considered, and I felt very happy every time a forever home was found.

    But, sometimes dogs would come in that were sick/injured or aggressive and because it was a high volume dog shelter unfortunately these dogs would be euthanized, humanely. I now live in a small town and was offered a job in the city shelter..their way of "euthanizing" is a carbon monoxide chamber, I could never live with myself if I was part of that because theres nothing humane about gas chambers, so I didnt take the position. I am trying to find a way to change the barbaric methods but it comes down to funding..the shelter can't even afford dhlpp vaccs.

    Feeling mad and upeset at the shelters for doing this get you no where, its the public that need to stop BYB and to spay/neuter to stop overpopulating the shelters.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Here are my thoughts as someone who works with a shelter that euthanizes only in cases of severe aggression or terminal illness.

    If this shelter is a government or government-contracted shelter that must accept all animals, then they have the difficult situation of dealing with a constant influx of animals and not enough space for them all. The people who work and volunteer there are not bad people; they are people who must make difficult decisions every day. They have to take in very aggressive animals, very sick animals and injured animals. In many cases, they don't have the money or staff to fix these problems and often these problems aren't fixable at all. A 10-year old dog with a broken leg that is aggressive isn't going to be adopted. The pup sick with parvo can infect the entire shelter. The litter of puppies that got dumped overnight have a good chance. So they have to make choices. Some are not easy. They didn't create the problem; they inherited it from irresponsible owners and they are charged with dealing with the mess. They need as much help as they can get. They don't need scorn from the public. At least they are being up front with you.

    Our humane society shelter tries to help our county shelter by taking as many adoptable animals from them as we can. But we choose the most adoptable ones. We can help more animals if we take animals that can be adopted fast over those that are the hard cases. It's a choice you have to make - help as many as you can or help the worst ones and more get euthanized. We try to help as many as we can.

    The former county vet is now our shelter vet. She used to have to make those decisions every single day. And she is one of the most compassionate people I've ever met. Humane euthanasia is better than being run over by a car as a stray or dying from parvo.

    Blame lousy owners who don't care for their pets, not the people who run the shelter.

    Edit - Google "Asilomar Accords" and read it. It's an agreement between both open admission shelters and closed shelters about stopping the use of the term "no kill" because of its inherent unfairness and its lack of clarity about what it really means.

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  • 1 decade ago

    As sad as it is that they euthanize animals, you have to heep in mind of the 42% of animals that are given chance of a better life with loving families and comfortable homes. I love animals very much and really respect work done by animal shelters. Usually people that work there are also passionate about animals...and you have to keep in mind that when they save animals for cruel treatment/abandonment, the animal may be too scarred and dangerous to go to a new home...which is not the shelter's's the horrible monsters that drove the animals to this behaviour. So think about both sides of the argument and in my opinion, I think you should go for it. You would make a difference to so many animals lives, and with your help you may even save a few more percent that get to go to good homes. You have the power to make a difference...don't let some cruel animal owner stop you! Good luck!!! =D

    Source(s): i'm a dog, rat and fish owner...and wish I could own many more!!!
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  • 1 decade ago

    Most of us cry when we have to kill animals on a daily basis. No one enjoys it..

    But, what do you expect them to do when they get 50 animals in per day and have 100 spaces? They have to euthanize when they run out of room. Every community needs to have an 'open admission' shelter that will take animals at any time for any reason. While no kills do provide a service, they only remain no kill by restricting how many they take in. If someone comes in with their pets because they got evicted that day, the no kill shelter will not take them. That's where 'kill' or 'open admission' shelters come into play. They provide a place where that person who lost their job, lost their home and so on can leave their pets in hopes that they find a home. They also provide a place for strays to go that may have an owner looking for them but may not be adoptable otherwise..

    Back before the days of kill shelters, volunteers just shot animals every few months to keep the strays under control or gathered them up for 'dog drownings' which were seen as entertainment in some communities. Yes, they would literally put a bunch of strays in pillowcases and drown them by throwing them over a bridge for entertainment. Todays open admission shelters are a large improvement over that..

    Whether or not you support your local open admission shelter, it will continue to exist. Your local government probably gives them funding to euthanize strays and that's it. Most adoption programs exist because of donors and volunteers..

    In other words, not supporting your local animal shelter doesn't mean they will no longer exist. All that will happen is they have one less person to help with adoptions, to help with fostering and to maybe even help with listing animals online to get more exposure and to show animals at local pet stores like Petsmart.. Not helping just means even more animals die, the ones YOU could have helped..

    Not adopting from the local open admission shelter doesn't mean they close, just one more animal dies..

    "Any life" is not better then no life, which is something I'm sure you'll discover soon enough if you do choose to volunteer. Many animals that are euthanized are ones that could not really live happy lives because of health or behavioral issues that prevent them from living life well or interacting with other animals and people. Dogs, being a social animal, really suffer when they lack the ability to get along with humans and other dogs. You'll see plenty of feral cats covered in scars and unhealed fractures from their life on the street. I don't see how any animal could be happy when suffering a grievous injury for years at a time while trying to survive in the wild.. Most domestic animals though are so dependent on humans that releasing them to fend for themselves, get hit by cars and starve would be a lot more traumatic then the three seconds it takes to euthanize them.

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  • 3 years ago

    No safe haven wishes to kill, realize that a majority of the animals that come to the safe haven are very ill , and are not able to be followed out. Some of those are deserted or mistreated animals wherein there accidents and ailment it too a ways complex. The shelters attempt to store and undertake out as many as they feasible can. I consider that alot of the animals are not followed out considering the costs are too prime, for a few contributors to pay, while love and companionship comes cost effectively. I recognize a few say they have got to cost such a lot to apartment. Well they might apartment much less in the event that they have been inexpensive and have been followed out. I consider that puppies and cats spayed and neutered, however i additionally consider that it must be the homeowners option. I might like to have a carbon replica of our maltese Kacey. Most of the animals I have followed got here from a safe haven and now not a breeder.

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  • eth
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Dumb Friends League Volunteer

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  • 1 decade ago

    Give it a miss. I'm sure there are plenty of no kill shelters that would love to have a young, keen and energetic person helping them and their animals.

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