USA: There is a dark side to animal rescue, says Heather. I am not that well qualified to write about the dark side of rescue but I do know about it.
I am referring to USA rescue for the sole reason that it is much discussed. You just don’t get the same kind of internet discussions about European animal rescue. You have to give Americans credit for their willingness to openly discuss rescue although the dark side of rescue includes, I am sure, many hidden, dastardly deeds of inhumane treatment, which never come to light.
I have used Heather’s words from her comment as a framework for what follows.
Internet trolls criticize shelters and shelter staff who euthanize by calling them murderers etc.. Cross-posters, and rescue directors and volunteers who refuse to foster sometimes force, drive or encourage other people into doing it by making them feel guilty.
The Julianne Westberry saga is a classic case of the dark side of cat rescue. There was so much wrong including deceit and what appears to be using cat rescue as a means to make money as the priority rather than rescuing cats.
But let’s also mention the phonies and dumpers who leave cats with people like Julianne Westberry and then point fingers at others. These people are being hypocritical.
The use of cat rescue as a means to make money was highlighted in the year-old case of Lowanda “Peanut” Kilby who was the director of a no-kill shelter, Boggs Mountain Humane Shelter, Georgia, USA. She was charged with no less than 60 felonies (serious crimes in the USA). The crimes included theft and racketeering.
Kilby was accused of charging 28 pet owners $100 to not kill their companion animals and then killed them anyway! People were told their cat or dog had been adopted when they had been killed. She was charged with stealing $10,500 in funds from the shelter which was closed down. Penny Burkitt, the shelter’s executive director resigned.
“We also need to address the subject of humane euthanasia for sick and dying animals, which many no-kill rescues and shelters refuse to do, while money is still sunk into the animal while it suffers needlessly, which is also a big subject of fights amongst rescuers. Some know how and when to let go and others (usually not the ones with the animal in their care,) throw fights and criticize. ”
I presume Heather is saying that sometimes, because a shelter is a genuine no-kill, the animals are kept alive needlessly. Does anyone else have experience of this?
Cat Rescuers with the best of intentions sometimes get in over their head and foster too many cats exposing themselves to accusations of cat hoarding. This is about the heart ruling the brain. It is amazing to read about people who say they care desperately about cat welfare and who want to pull cats from shelters to save them from euthanasia then end up hurting cats in their care through neglect because they can’t cope. Isn’t this a consequence of a failure to tackle the production of unwanted cats at source – irresponsible cat ownership by a minority?
And are some cat rescuers doing it to meet a need inside them? Are some cat rescuers filling a hole in their lives or in their psyche? Is cat rescue sometimes in itself an abuse of the cat (I am playing devils advocate in this instance)?
The personal relationships of animal rescuers can also suffer. It makes me think. Dedicated cat rescuers are going to have to go it alone because it would seem that there is little room in their lives other than the animals that they are rescuing.
While the rescues do such good work, we are also battling against an irresponsible, quick-fix, throw-away society who also refuses to see the “real deal.” How many times have WE RESCUERS been told “I can’t watch those commercials, I have to change the channel.” Maybe we need a follow-up, mini-series to this article called “The Dark Side of Rescue.”
Do you have a dark side rescue story?
Photo credit: Alannah-Hawker on DeviantART. The words were added by Michael