The cat shelter is firmly a part of society in Europe and the United States or indeed in most counties of the world. They have been around for ages. How long? I guess as long as there have been too many cats or at least too many cats that were unwanted. There was a time, let’s not forget, when there was not one cat shelter to be seen in America. That time was probably around the 1850s. One of the first was the Women’s SPCA of Pennsylvania which was opened in 1869. I am guessing, but I suspect that before that date unwanted cats were simply euthanized at a government pound of some sort.
The cat shelter does sterling work. Some do better than others. But all have to contend with the actual or potential problem of too many cats coming in and not enough cats going out. That leads to one inevitable decision – euthanasia.
And for that reason alone I could never work in a cat shelter despite the fact that I am certain that I would be a good employee. I would thoroughly enjoy the work. I have no problem cleaning out pens or cages or litter trays. Good, honest labor is good for the soul.
The trouble is someone has to organise the killing of cats and it is actually killing not euthanasia. I know I keep making that point but it is an important one because I would not object to genuinely euthanising a cat. This is because it is the humane thing to do. It is being kind to a cat. Although it would be very distressing.
But straight cold-blooded killing by the thousands year in and year out would kill me as well as the cats. I am convinced that I would become depressed – more depressed than I already am at the whole thing – and that it would damage me psychologically.
I wonder how many other people who would be great workers are put off by this aspect of working at a cat shelter? The same sort of problem exists at veterinary clinics in America. I couldn’t work in one of those places either because of the declawing.
I wonder too if the fact that most shelters have to euthanize cats whether this aspect of the work attracts people who are not the ideal sort of employee? I am being a bit provocative in asking that question, I will admit. However, let’s be open to that possibility and think about it. If a person wants to kill cats by the hundreds, legally, he can do it at a cat shelter. Makes me think.
Euthanasia of unwanted cats at shelters or rescue facilities happens all over the world. America discusses it more that the other countries which is brave of them. I respect that. I just wish more was done to find a proper solution to unwanted cats than simply killing them which effectively brushes the problem under the carpet.
Which are the best animal shelters in the USA? There is no league table. Maybe there should be a league table based on the least number of animals euthanised and the biggest number re-homed. Why not?
One that seems to stand out is Best Friends Animal Society. They have a sanctuary. The word “sanctuary” almost demands a commitment to non-euthanasia otherwise it would not be a sanctuary. They say nothing bad ever happens to their animals. Therefore they don’t euthanize any animal. And they run courses on rescuing cats and on running a sanctuary. There are also courses on dog caretaking.
Addressing the other end of the problem – companion animal caretaking is brilliant because it can only help in reducing unwanted animals. This is the sort of place I could definitely work in. I used to be a trainer anyway before I became a lawyer so Best Friends Animal Sanctuary seems ideal for me! Unfortunately, I bet there are a lot of people who’d like to work there too.