Tag Archives: euthanasia

What it Means to be an “Open-Admission” Animal Shelter

14 May

For those who are hard of hearing, or just prefer reading, the text version is below:

Hey everyone, so this is my first video blog…hopefully in a long series of video blogs.

And I’m bringing this to you, because as some of you may know I work at an animal shelter. If you didn’t already know that, you do now! Before I go any further, I am just going to mention that I am not going to say the name of the shelter I work at, but just in case any of you deduce it or already know it, I am not a representative of my animal shelter.

I work for an Open Admission shelter, so that’s actually what I’m going to be talking about today. What is an open admission shelter?

An Open Admission shelter is similar to the equal opportunity act. An employer won’t discriminate based on age, sex, creed, religion, or any of those things, and an open admission shelter functions in much the same way. We won’t discriminate what animals we bring in. We will take in a 1 day old puppy, or a 17 year old dog. We’ll take in aggressive and dangerous dogs, and then of course we will take in the normal dog.

Even if we don’t have space in the shelter, we will still accept animals…we will make space.

The opposite of an Open Admission Shelter is a Limited Admission Shelter. A limited Admission shelter is what you would usually call a rescue. The great thing about limited admission shelter is that they get to choose which animals they take in – they are often breed-based, so they may only take in specific breeds, like yorkies or large breeds. Open admission shelters often utilize these rescues when we don’t have the resources to work with an animal to give them a home.

The estimated number of owned animals in the United States in 2012 is 179 million cats and dogs.

The number of stray animals estimated in 2012 is 70 million.

70 million. That’s a lot!

The unfortunate reality of this numbers, is that we can’t place all of these animals. We have a variety of resources we may utilize – we can try transferring to limited admission shelters than I mentioned earlier. They often have more resources per animal because they have fewer animals. We might also try fostering an animal if it has an issue we can work with, but isn’t quite ready for adoption.

Being a nonprofit organization, means we have limited resources, and unfortunately those run out.

Even though we can take in all animals, we don’t always have the resources to safely or effectively adopt those animals out. And it is for this reason, that Open Admission shelters perform euthanasia.

Would you want a dog that escaped its yard and killed another animal, or mauled a child, to live next to Grandma? Or you? Or maybe you have kids…do you want this dog as your own pet?

Or what about a cat that is so aggressive, you can’t touch it? Or a cat that is so terrified, it can’t function?

Would you be willing to pay even $100 for a dog that may pass away within the next 6 months?

These are all issues we face when we are trying to decide if an animal is an adoptable animal.

I don’t speak for all shelters when I say this, but our adoptable animals don’t have a shelf life. Once they pass behavioral evaluations and medical assessments and are made available, they remain on the adoption floor until they are adopted.

If an animal is on the adoption floor for an extended period of time (1 or 2 months) we may transfer that animal to another facility in hopes that it may find its forever home in that community. Just because we aren’t reaching the right adopters, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

The goal is to reduce the number of animals without a home, and do reduce the number of animals subjected to cruelty each year.

If you have any questions, please get them to me. I want this to be an open discussion, so share this, and give me your questions. Maybe I’ll even answer them in a follow-up video blog! I want to answer them and dispel any myths or rumors you may have heard about open-admission shelters!

 

Human Euthanasia: Could It Be a Good Thing?

28 May

 

Euthanasia of animals in controversial, even among those who love animals more than anything else. The reason it gets done is because there aren’t enough homes for all of the lovely animals in this world, and because urban environments allow populations of animals to grow past carrying capacity, which causes suffering of the animals.

There was once a man, Jack Kevorkian, who believed that human euthanasia could be useful. He wasn’t alone, and he never will be alone in that belief. The problem with human euthanasia is the need for a system to designate what would be within the law, and what would not. The circumstances under which human euthanasia would be acceptable could range from requests by terminally ill patients looking to end their own suffering, to requests by depressed patients who would otherwise lead a normal life. Beyond that, human euthanasia could be applied to those not contributing to society, or cause us to make judgment calls about the quality of life for extremely mentally or physically disabled people. We also have a tendency to be more attached to humans than we do animals, and the grieving process takes longer, so the lives of those who know the person in question would also need to be taken into account.

Keep in mind, we already use euthanasia to end the lives of prisoners. 

It could very well have the same implications that animal euthanasia does. It could decrease the amount that humans have overpopulated the world, which would help to decrease suffering not only in underdeveloped countries, but even our own back yards. The sick would no longer have to suffer, and those who wanted to end their pain, would have the option.

What do you think about human euthanasia? Do you think that terminally ill patients who may be suffering should have the right to choose their own fate? What kind of regulations would you propose if it was legal? Do you think capital punishment should be outlawed?

My First Time

20 Apr

Euthanasia.

A four syllable word that brings a lot of discomfort, both in the hearts and the minds of those speaking and hearing it.

It isn’t something that anyone enjoys doing. If animal lovers had their way, it wouldn’t exist…and thats a fact that is true across the board. Sometimes, as you will hear most people put it, its a necessary evil. This is especially true in animals who are suffering. If you’ve ever been in extreme pain, you know that it can be so bad that you wish you could just cease to exist. We all wish this was the only time it had to be done…in extreme cases. Sometimes, its not. There are so many animals in this world that there is no possible way for us to find homes for all of them. Some of them can’t even be in the same room as someone. I don’t know if that is something I could’ve fathomed as an absolute until I worked with some of the animals I have.

Sometimes, animals just have to be euthanized. I don’t like it, but how can you adopt out an animal knowing that it could potentially kill a child? Or another pet? Or you? How can you say its okay to let an animal keep suffering?

On April 15, 2012, I euthanized my first animal. It was a 16 year old brown tiger cat whose health was failing, and it was requested to be put down by its [loving] owner.

This wasn’t my first time in the euthanasia room by far. I’d assisted many times before, and I had even completed injecting the drug on animals that had already had most of it injected already (to help me become competent in intravenous injection).

This time it was different. This time it was all me.

The problem with older cats is that it is much harder to find veins, and it is much easier to blow them. As with all the animals that come into that room, I gave her attention. I picked her up, scratched her head, and thus began the purring. The purring is usually the hardest part.

Very awkwardly, I put my thumb against the vein to help stop it from moving. I, slowly, put the needle under the skin. I missed. Tried again, and got it. Then…the vein blew. I couldn’t use that leg again, so I tried the other one. It was much less awkward on this leg, and I got the vein on the first try.

And it was done.

It was rather…uneventful? I didn’t really feel…anything. Maybe it was because I had already been numbed by previous events of the day (the terror involved with trying to break up a dog fight), or maybe it was that I’ve accepted that euthanasia is a fact of life in the shelter. Maybe it was even because I didn’t know the animal personally, because I’ve had animals I was close to put down for various reasons and it sucks; I have to choke back tears every time, while I continue to toil away at my duties.

As I walk down the path toward being a veterinarian, I’ve had to do many things that I haven’t wanted to do, and I’m sure I’ll have to do many more. Its a combination of these things that makes me not only a well-rounded veterinarian, but a well-rounded human being as well. I can understand deeper things than just existence.

Once again, be a responsible pet owner. Socialize your animals, train your animals, and most of all get them spayed and neutered. Maybe someday, if people become more responsible, we can get to a point in which euthanasia becomes uncommon in the shelter.

The Truth About Kill vs. No Kill Animal Shelters

17 Apr

Ever been to an animal shelter? One of the first questions folks usually ask is if its a “kill” or a “no kill” shelter.

I currently work in a shelter, and I’ve come to dislike these terms – they are inaccurate. Better, more accurate terms to use are “open admission” and “limited admission” shelter. The reason for this is because “no kill” shelters do euthanize animals in certain situations, and because “kill” doesn’t accurately describe the mission of open admission shelters.

At an open admission shelter, all animals are accepted, regardless of the state they are in and the capacity of the shelter. At limited admission shelters, only a specified number of animals are taken in, and often these animals are confined to a specific age, species, and/or breed – these shelters will often turn away animals, who will then end up in open admission shelters anyway. That’s the first thing you need to know.

The second thing, is that no one wants to euthanize animals. Open admission shelters will work with other shelters and rescues to move animals that have behavioral or other issues, and to reduce the number of animals euthanized (we are all trying to save the animals – we love them, remember?). Limited admission shelters often work with these open admission shelters to provide these homes and to work with these animals to make them adoptable. In a case that an open admission shelter can’t place an animal, or the animal can’t be adopted (health or behavior issues), sometimes euthanasia is the only option. Its also the last option; remember, no one wants to do this.  If an animal is too sick, its quality of life is severely diminished. If an animal is aggressive, how can a shelter say that it is adoptable? If it gets out one day and kills a child, who is to blame?

That being said, limited admission shelters will also resort to euthanasia in extreme cases.

Neither shelter type is necessarily better than the other, because they both work together in order to help find homes for animals and to help correct the animal overpopulation crisis. That is why it is so important to spay and neuter pets. If the number of animals decreases, the number of places they can live increases, and the number of euthanasias decreases. It makes perfect sense.

So please, try to change your frame of mind to encompass open admission and limited admission shelters instead of “kill” and “no kill”. Spay and neuter your pets. And understand the important role each type of shelter plays, because we are all in this together.