PETA Get It Wrong About No-Kill Shelters

I have enormous respect for PETA but the author, Chris Holbein, of their article: Why I Won’t Work at a ‘No-Kill’ Shelter, has got it wrong in my opinion.

Chris makes the obviously valid point that it is very sad and almost inhumane to keep cats and dogs in cages for ages while they wait for an adopter. He says it is kinder to euthanize these animals. It’s kinder to end their lives. I see the point. It is a good point and it is horrible to keep dogs in cages for many months except for a 15 minute walk once a day.

These shelters must fill up at which point they can no longer accept unwanted animals. Although this is dire, it does place the system under stress and this is good. It forces people to think about irresponsible pet ownership. It forces people to find ways to improve pet ownership and reduce the number of unwanted pets. It does not, as Chris, claims brush the problem under the carpet.

But euthanasia does. If you quietly and efficiently kill all the unwanted cats and dogs you remove the problem; the problem humans have of creating unwanted pets. You make room in an instant for fresh unwanted pets and they, too, are got rid off efficiently and so the wrong is maintained almost indefinitely. There is no need to complain. Yes, people are dismayed at the mass euthanasia of healthy animals but they forget. The human memory for things they don’t want to remember is short.

But it is impossible to forget the dogs and cats languishing in shelters because they are in front of people 24/7, 365 days a year. They are a constant reminder of the failure of pet ownership which helps to force improvements.

I see it as a tap being left open. The water flows from the tap and out the plug hole. The open plug hole is euthanasia. Put the plug in and the water overflows unless you turn off the tap (the supply of unwanted cats and dogs). Change is forced to happen.

Both euthanasia and keeping cats and dogs in cages for many months is very bad. Of the two options I prefer the latter as it is more likely to bring about change for the better.

The PETA article: Why I Won’t Work at a ‘No-Kill’ Shelter | PETA

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PETA Get It Wrong About No-Kill Shelters — 5 Comments

    • Well said and thanks Frances. It can’t be can it. It just makes the cause of the problem go away for a short while. But it does not address the core issues. Killing is the short term easy route. Not good.


  1. I struggle with this issue almost on a daily basis. I volunteer with a no kill rescue group. The cats are in small cages in Petcos, which is heartbreaking. However, a lot of the cats were adopted as we hold “adoption events” every weekend. But while we are taking care of them it is very upsetting to me. When I open their cage doors it is like they are starved for affection and come to me for head rubs, purring and nuzzling me. I take them for a play session for a bout 15 minutes and then when I have to return them to the cage I actually talk to them and tell them how sorry I am that I have to bring them back to the cage. I have also had to become stern with children putting things in the cages right in front of me “because they wanted the cats to come to the front of the cage”. I told them that it is not cool and they were to go find their mother immediately. I was so angry. Store policy is that children are not to be running around alone but the Petco people are not going to be police, which I get. Later they came back and apologized. Others have thought it was cute to bring their huge dogs up to the cage door. The cats are terrified because they do not have an exit. I have also told them to get away from the cage. People look at me like I’m the bad guy but I do not care. These animals have been tossed in dumpsters and rescued from hoarders which is terrible enough and now they have to live in a cage. And they still want to love people. I cry when I put them back but I cannot abandon them and go back every day and pray they will be adopted. I adopted one of the cats and told her you will never be in a cage alone again.


    • Michele, your comment is moving and telling. It is painful to read your comment. We should all feel the pain of caging cats and dogs like this because of the irresponsible behavior of a minority of humans. The more pain we feel the more likelihood there is of something being done to stop it. People in general don’t care enough. If we killed all the cats in shelter cages in one day we would ‘solve’ the problem of unwanted cats until the next day.



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