Are shelter workers working in open admittance shelters criticised by people at parties for working in places where cats and dogs are killed if they aren’t adopted? Are these good people looked down upon as animal killers? I don’t believe so but one guy, Alex Mays, who works in one says that people can be critical of him. That’s unfair because kill shelters do something that no-kill shelters don’t do: they take in any animal and if they are sick and need to be gently euthanised that is a good thing. That’s the argument.
And I wonder why someone thought up the name ‘open admittance shelter’. It is as if they are trying to hide from the raw fact that many animals are killed at these places. Are they really ‘shelters’? Where is the sheltering in killing healthy animals?
Alex makes the point that open admittance shelters do very valuable work for animal welfare. I get that. These shelters deal with the unwanted animals when no-kill shelters can’t because they are full. I think that is his argument. They do the dirty work in mopping up the mess left behind by irresponsible or negligent cat and dog ownership. However, sometimes abandoning a cat or dog is without fault. Someone has to deal with it. And they re-home animals that might not be re-homed at no-kill shelters simply because they are open admittance.
However, I feel it is easy to get into the wrong mindset when a shelter has the ultimate solution at its disposal: euthanasia. It’s the cure all. Or it can seem that way. I feel, too, that complacency can set it. Euthanasia is bad for shelter workers too. It is traumatic to be killing healthy, sweet cats and dogs on a regular basis. It is a strategy of failure; an admission of failure through actions. Open admittance shelters can become part of the unwanted animal problem. They are processing the unwanted and making them disappear.
Alex feels aggrieved. He feels that outsiders have a misconception about the work he does and his motives and feelings. He feels drained and stressed at having to deal with the difficult life and death decisions at open admission shelters. I’d imagine that it is harder to work at an open admission shelter than a no-kill shelter. There is more negativity. More death.
Also I don’t believe that no-kill shelters are naturally prone to becoming full. Under careful and creative management is it not possible to ensure that there is always room for unwanted cats and dogs or do they always automatically become full and have to close the door to another customer? I don’t believe so. I have read stories of staff at kill shelters successfully turning things around to the point where very few animals are killed. This is followed by a great deal of positivity and motivation. It lifts the mood and motivates. ‘No-kill’ is gaining traction in the world of cat and dog rescue.
Alex is drained and fed up it seems to me. He feels under-appreciated and misunderstood. He’s underpaid but considers the work a vocation. He likes his work. I think he might like it better if the shelter he works at found more ways to avoid killing pets.
These are my personal views and I know others have an opposite opinion. That’s fine. Alex does not say where he works in his excellent article. PETA like him and his thoughts. I admire him. He is vet tech and clearly genuinely committed to the work which he discharges to a high standard.