Get a FREE Issue of Earth Island Journal
Sign up for our no-risk offer today.

Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Latest News > Post and Comments

Latest News

Why Environmentalists Should Care about Pet Euthanasia

We treat our companion animals like we treat our disposable products

Each morning when I check my daily Facebook feed, I am greeted by the large, lovely eyes of dozens of cats. These are not the scrunched up, comic faces of LOLCats or YouTube clips featuring a fluffy gray kitten adorably attacking apples on her owner’s bed. Instead, these are the faces of the cats scheduled to be euthanized at the animal control centers in my native New York City, where an estimated 12,000 animals are put down annually.

Photo by Ian UmedaAmericans surrender 12 million animals to shelters every year, half of whom are killed. Ironically, we
also have proven ourselves to be a nation enamored with our pets.

Unfortunately, New York City is not alone in the staggering amount of animals it puts to sleep every year; the problem is ubiquitous across the nation. Here in the United States, we euthanize approximately five million cats and dogs every year. Euthanasia at animal control centers is by far the leading cause of death of cats and dogs in this country. Many of these animals are either perfectly healthy and adoptable, or suffering from only mild colds or other maladies that could be treated with routine antibiotics or the most rudimentary vet care.

Such numbers should shock us, yet many times when I relay this fact to others, I am met with a shrug of the shoulders and some words of resignation. Among pockets of the conservation community and even animal welfare groups, these deaths rates are not only accepted, but adamantly defended. The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the most aggressive animal rights organization in the country, often cites euthanasia as the most humane option for directly addressing pet overpopulation. Likewise, many wildlife advocacy groups have taken a stance supporting intensive culls of outdoor cats in order to protect songbirds and other small wildlife species cats prey on. In general, the issue of pet overpopulation and high euthanasia rates is often considered one wholly separate from, or even at odds with, our environment.

Yet this issue should be at the forefront of environmentalists’ concerns. Few other issues embody the waste ethic of Western culture than the way in which we use and dispose of our companion animals. For many of us, our companion animals serve as our only personal connection to the larger animal kingdom, and so to the natural world. If we cannot find a way to extend empathy toward our pets, how can we be expected to extend welfare concerns and protections to wildlife and livestock?

Companion animals have the closest, most personal relationship to us than any other non-human species. They are unlike the livestock we have domesticated to provide our food, clothing and transportation, or the wildlife we have come to view as competitors for our planet’s ever-dwindling resources. The primary purpose of dogs and cats — indeed, their sole purpose for many — is to play the role of friend and family member.

Ironically, even as so many die every year, we also have proven ourselves to be a nation enamored with our pets. We spend about $38 billion every year on their comfort and care. Bereavement counseling for people whose pets that have died has become a burgeoning industry. Many of those who are childless or now have empty nests come to view and treat their pets as surrogate children, or at least good and loyal company to stave off loneliness. This emotional attachment translates into reluctance to put down pets.

According to an AP-Petside poll conducted earlier this year, 71 percent of people favored euthanasia for cats and dogs only in those instances when the animal is “…too sick to be treated or too aggressive to be adopted,” and not for the purpose of population control.

Still, millions of animals are surrendered to shelters and animal control centers every year. According to the National Council of Pet Population Study & Policy, “moving” is often cited as the number one reason owners surrender their animals, with “landlord issues” and the “cost of care” close behind. Furthermore, a poll conducted by the Humane Society of the United States showed that 35 percent of people without pets would have one if their rentals permitted animals.

This suggests that if sufficient resources were allocated for finding new homes for pets, advocating for municipal and state policies that would better enable people to retain their pets (through the increased availability of pet-friendly housing and affordable vet care for low income pet owners), and encouraging adoption over breeding, we could end (or at least minimize) the cycle of suffering and death that takes place in thousands of shelters in the US every day.

The situation reminds me of Annie Leonard’s remarkable animated film short, “The Story of Stuff.” In the film she laments how 99 percent of of all the resources Americans extract and use winds up in the trash within six months of its manufacture. Although animals are not objects marketed by corporations, it seems clear that much of our collective frenzy to buy and then dispose of things has extended to encompass our pets. We surrender 12 million animals to shelters every year, half of whom we kill. In my volunteer work working to rescue cats from euthanasia, I routinely see “Do not want anymore” or “No time for them” as the reason marked by owners for a pet surrender — reasons that seem to be more applicable for throwing away one’s old shoes or video games than a living being.

I have tried to make sense of the contradiction in our treatment of our companion animals. I can only guess that there are either two groups of people with differing value systems; or that, much like our obsession with the “stuff” that we treasure and then quickly trash, we easily bore of our pets in favor of something else.

One argument in favor of continuing the cycle of disposal of companion animals is that there are “too many animals, too few homes.” This may be true. Yet less than 15 percent of the dogs and cats brought into new homes each year are adopted from shelters and rescues, meaning that the bulk of companion animals in American homes were bought from breeders or pet stores even as millions of animals already born succumbed to the gas chamber or lethal injection. This despite the fact that between a quarter and a third of euthanized dogs (and many cats) were originally bought as opposed to adopted — showing that animals that come from breeders are ultimately not valued any higher than those from shelters or the streets, and probably less so since the buying framework objectifies the animals and reinforces their value as that of an expendable commodity instead of a lifelong companion. We are a nation obsessed with “new” and for which “second-hand” — whether it be an thing or a being — carries a stigma we do not wish to be associated with.

pet2 Photo by Randen PedersonThe animals we are throwing away are living creatures, capable of pain, fear, grief, joy and — as
many who have had them in their lives know — love.

Unlike the stuff that Leonard’s documentary focuses on, the animals we are throwing away are living creatures, capable of pain, fear, grief, joy and — as many who have had them in their lives know — love. After they are put down, the carcasses of these once-feeling animals are sent to nearby landfills, incinerated, or rendered for pet food. In up to 33 states, dogs and cats that are not euthanized may be legally sold to research laboratories in a nefarious practice known as “pound seizure” and subjected to cruel experiments. (Three states — Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah — mandate that shelters relinquish animals to laboratories upon request.)

Unfortunately, many animal control centers not only condone the public’s treatment of animals as expendable commodities, but often set guidelines or are beholden to municipal policies that enable the perpetual disposal of our pets en masse. For instance, the New York Animal Control Center of New York City release their “kill list” to local rescue groups only 12 hours before intended euthanasia, offering little time for the animals to be networked and saved. (Budget limitations are also an issue. When so many animals are crowded into poorly ventilated spaces, disease travels and, lacking resources, the animals are euthanized rather than treated. Better sanitation and medical care of animals would help prevent the spread of kitty colds and kennels cough that lead to premature euthanasia of otherwise healthy animals.)

Many shelters (as well as many of the large animal welfare organizations that support them) preach the importance of spay/neuter programs, adoption over buying, and owner responsibility and obligation toward their pets. Yet many of them that are professing a respect for non-human life are treating the animals in ways that can be construed just as flippant. For example, according to records from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, PETA euthanized more than 27,000 companion animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia since 1998. That's over 95 percent of the animals it took into its facility that year. Just last year, PETA euthanized 1,965 of the 2,050 animals surrendered to their organization.

As long as we have animal control centers that continue to mainly serve as warehousing and kill centers for our discarded animals, we will have a public that will continue to treat their pets as objects that can be readily disposed. And a nation that continues to view its closest animal allies as disposable will not be able to extend compassion toward wildlife, livestock, or even members of our own species. This is especially true for those growing up in our increasingly urbanized and ecologically disconnected world.

I grew up in a sullen, barren section of Brooklyn where the sounds of gunshots were not uncommon and the only wildlife that could be seen were pigeons and rats. Trees were sparse and grass sparser. But my family always had a small menagerie of pets, usually a dog and a couple of cats. My grandparents, who raised me, were hardcore pet lovers. My grandmother made sure to adopt all but one of the dozen dogs she had over the course of her lifetime from the local pound. All of our cats were former street cats we took in. For his part, my grandfather never met a stray he couldn’t help but rescue. He would feed the bony dogs that followed him home and take them to a vet to be fixed and vaccinated on his own spare dime (and we were a poor family). He would then find a family for them on his own or wait until there was an opening for them at the North Shore Animal League (the nation’s largest no-kill animal shelter, based in eastern Long Island) and drive them the two hours to drop them off there. Our own pets were considered prized members of the family — they slept in our beds and ate our food scraps.

My childhood pets served as “gateway animals” to my introduction to bigger environmental concerns and challenged me to critically consider my (and humanity’s) impact on other species and the landscapes we co-inhabit with them. Being an inner city kid who breathed smog and whose toes hardly ever grazed a blade of grass growing up, I doubt I would have chosen such a path without my pets or my family’s value of them to guide my way.

Many people may argue that there are many worse, more pressing problems than the pet overpopulation and euthanasia crisis. But if we cannot properly take care of those animals with whom we live with and love, then I doubt there is any hope for us that we will make any real effort to address more distant ecological concerns.

Pet euthanasia is the ultimate symbol of our selfishness, wastefulness, and lack of foresight and compassion that is contributing to so many of our environmental ills. Our ability to be empathetic and responsible pet owners is one of the biggest tests as to whether we are capable stewards of this planet.

Right now we are failing that test.

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel is an environmental freelance writer who lives in the Boston area. Her essays and articles have appeared in Earth Island Journal, E Magazine, Mother Jones, and Z Magazine

Email this post to a friend.

Write to the editor about this post.

Subscribe Today
cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJ cover thumbnail EIJFour issues of the award-winning
Earth Island Journal for only $10

 

Comments

I was discussing your article in my environmental LinkedIn group Essential Green Living and I thought I would share my commentary below in response to someone expressing that world hunger should be placed before this issue. My response was as follows -

This is a singular environmental issue solely based on the idea of waste which in no way competes with or is at odds with worldwide hunger. The article which I adapted above made a significant point from an environmental perspective. We recycle our aluminum cans and shorten our showers, all in the name of a concern for our environment, our Earth and its limited resources. None of these compete with one another. Generally, what is at odds with these efforts is consumption, the antithesis of salvaging our limited resources.

The article showed yet another example of extraordinary consumption or as the article stated the “waste ethic” of our culture and that “our collective frenzy to buy and then dispose of things has extended to [even] encompass our pets”. One which has undoubtedly lead us to this very point in time where we have realized the immense impact this mentality has had on our planet and individual communities.

When around 8 million animals are surrendered to shelters every year and half of them are being killed while almost triple that amount, over 23 million, are being acquired from breeders, pet shops etc , what an astonishing example of our acquisition. This may be because, as the article states, “we are a nation obsessed with ‘new’ and for which ‘second-hand’ –whether it be a thing or being – carries a stigma we do not wish to be associated with. This is a cycle, despite your feelings on companion animals, that should be acknowledged, especially from an environmental standpoint. PETA, for instance euthanized more that 95% of the animals it took into its facility – “as long as we have animal control centers that continue to mainly serve as warehousing and kill centers for our discarded animals, we will have a public that will continue to treat their pets as objects that can be readily disposed”.

However, in all honesty, as I try to keep my commentary pragmatic, animals are not expendable commodities and should not be put on the same balance sheet as aluminum cans. That is not at odds with world hunger or any other important issue plaguing our world today. This is one of many examples which show how our wastefulness contributes to so many of our environmental ills.

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Why-Environmentalists-Should-Care-about-3951268.S.242548217?qid=36546423-5538-492b-a0a2-93ecb3bb738b&trk=group_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback;=.gmp_3951268

By Sandra on Mon, May 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Thank you Laura Kiesel. Important contribution. I just found this thru a link in Counterpunch website. Glad you’re writing; please keep it up
Thanks again,
Virginia

By Virginia on Thu, February 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

In Reply to Zachary Zito’s comment in support of purebred dogs:
Yes, good breeders either microchip or tattoo their pups and if a shelter knows what they’re doing will scan and contact the breeder. If the owner relinquished the papers to the shelter (which they should), then the breeder can be contacted through AKC or CKC. If a breeder is reputable then they will respond immediately to retrieve the dog. All the purebred dogs I purchase come with a contract stating that I will return the dog to the breeder if I can no longer keep the dog. To make a blanket statement that “every responsible breeder automatically would just take back any of their dogs is a fallacy” is completely untrue. I personally choose a purebred because I know what I’m getting and that’s a BIG deal. I know I’m getting health, emotional stability, good temperament, etc. because I know the breeder and the lines. If you’ve never been involved with purebred dog sports and clubs where dogs and owners are having a blast together then you shouldn’t be commenting on the “fascination” with purebred dogs. I also highly doubt that I’ve never experienced the full love from an animal just because I didn’t rescue one from a shelter. That comment can’t be further from the truth. By the way, there are numerous purebred rescue groups that do a lot of work with their particular breeds to re-home and foster. None of you mention Greyhound Rescue which has done spectacular work. There are loads of good people doing good work and NOT putting dogs down like the Humane Society and PETA do on a regular basis.

By Lexi R. on Tue, October 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

A very well written article, and something I am currently researching for a paper on how society views pet ownership as just another disposable good to fulfill our own selfish ends before disposing them and forgetting about them.  The shelters we work with the exception of one are non-profit, utilizing an extensive volunteer network to pull animals from death row and vet them, foster them, and transport them to weekly adoption events held at community businesses in the area.  No animals are being “imported” for resale, as we have a hard enough time finding homes for ALL the animals already in our community without a home.  And the idea that every responsible breeder automatically would just take back any of their dogs if the owner was faced with a hardship is a fallacy.  Walk through an animal control facility sometime and look at all the full bred dogs and cats available for adoption.  They end up there because their owners die or choose they don’t want them.  Are they microchipped back to the breeders so they get some sort of update letting them know one of their animals are in a shelter?  Doubtful.  I’ve never understood the fascination with a “full bred” animal UNLESS they are serving a particular purpose that a good bloodline would prove reliability (Service dogs, K9 or military dogs, hunting dogs, etc.)  In my opinion, until you have rescued a dog from death row (and we have rescued dozens, and have kept 3) you have never experienced full love from an animal.  Those dogs and cats know they are safe and were rescued and show unconditional love because of it and millions of people around the country who choose to adopt from shelters instead of breeders realize that.

By Zachary Zito on Tue, October 30, 2012 at 8:17 am

Laura, Ok, I read the article for a second time and even slower than the first. Yes there are significant attacks on breeders. Good breeders never, EVER put their pups in a pet store. If a person purchases a dog from a pet store then they’re basically asking for it. Like anything worthwhile, it takes some research to find out who’s, who in a breed. It’s not impossible. I just recently purchased a dog of a different breed (than I’ve had over the past 30 years) and I spent a lot of time looking, talking, watching. The breeder I selected is top notch all the way and I wound up with a super healthy, emotionally stable pup that has been a great addition to my other 4 dogs. This particular breeder also drove hours to pick up one of their dogs that was being given over to a shelter (out of embarrassment). The shelter checked the registered name and called them immediately. THAT is a “responsible” breeder. Also, within our breed, we have rescue organizations that immediately “rescue” our breed from shelters and then foster them until new homes are located. None of those dogs are put to sleep. THAT is a responsible group of breeders and breed enthusiasts of which I proudly count myself one of. Recently a very well respected breeder died and numbers from our breed community stepped up and took her dogs into their homes. THAT is responsible and that’s why you never hear about the really good stuff that’s going on out there because we just do it. We’re not looking for publicity.
The breeders you’re talking about “disease and abuse” are the puppy mills. It’s very, very easy to register with the AKC and that does not mean quality at all. Any one purchasing a purebred dog needs to go to a breeders house and look around. I would never purchase a dog from a suspected puppy mill. If someone does then they’re not that interested in the dog in the first place.
Buy the way, a lot of my friends import and export dogs on a regular basis. Very, very easy to do. Sorry but you’re just plain wrong on your import/export knowledge.

I agree that society as a whole needs to care more for our domestic animals, but they never will. There’s money to be made in the sale of animals and as long as that’s the case then there will be abuse. Like anything else, spend your money wisely. If the puppy mills don’t sell pups then they go out of business.

By Lexi R. on Mon, October 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Lexi—Maybe you should read the essay before you post comments? The essay is not an attack on breeders, and mostly focuses on owner responsibility (or lack thereof) and the disposable mindset of owners and how it drives this problem. If you read the article thoroughly, you would know that. I commend you on making a lifetime commitment to your animals. That being said, many people who purchases from breeders—even so-called “responsible” breeders, don’t make such a commitment and then shift the burden of responsibility for those animals onto shelters (and thus society). And what that means, is, since we have a huge animal overpopulation problem in this country, we really don’t need to be adding to it. And what makes a “responsible” breeder, can you elaborate? AKC registration? Background checks? What? Because basically “responsible” is a generic and empty term with no official or formal applicable standards. News stories have been glutted with reports of disease and abuse at such breeding facilities and many people who buy from high-end breeders relinquish those animals to shelters. Many shelter animals are relinquished with a full report of their diet, behavior, medical history. An adult animal often has a proven history with other animals and kids. And many shelters and rescues do do background checks, landlord/work references, and even mandatory trainings for prospective owners before allowing an animal to go to that new home. I know this has been the case in the three animals I have adopted from three separate shelters, in three separate states. Animal control centers often do not because they are run by towns and cities and too cash-strapped. Many shelters run on shoe-string budgets. They are adopting out animals for a fraction of the price one gets them for at breeders (in an attempt to get people to consider them over bred animals) while making sure they are fully vetted. Hardly what I would call a “big business.” As for pet stores—where do you think they get the animals from? Breeders. Many times, AKC registered, “reputable” and “responsible” breeders. Re: your importation from animals overseas, there were some very strict laws passed in importing and exporting animals in the early 2000’s that would make this extremely difficult. Your perception of shelter animals as someone else’s “mistake” just reinforces my point.

By Laura on Mon, October 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Laura, who took on the responsibility of the pet and then dropped it off at the shelter in the first place? Why not make it incredibly difficult for a person to get a dog? Do background checks, home inspections and demand references. Most responsible breeders don’t sell to just anyone. They do exactly as I just said. I know of many instances where a breeder won’t sell to a certain person for a variety of reasons.  If I purchase a dog,  I keep it for life no matter what. As a child, my parents moved us all over the U.S. and the dogs always came with. We never gave them up. So tell me why I should I be guilted into taking on an animal that was given up by some irresponsible owner? What’s the animal’s history? How was it raised? How has it been fed? What’s it’s medical history? Why shouldn’t I own what I want as opposed to someone’s “mistake”? And who’s breeding all the mixed breeds out there? There are plenty of them and they’re not coming from purebred breeders. If you want to attack the purebred breeding folks then go after the puppy mills. Go after the pet shops selling puppies to anyone with the money. That’s where many of the “purebred” problems lie. If a purebred is turned into a shelter then it probably came from a puppy mill (or the breeder wasn’t contacted) and now the irresponsible, cruel owner is turning the animal in to face an uncertain future. The owners are the folks who should be taken to task. Why aren’t they fined or punished in some manner? Their actions are the problem. I took a purebred from a rescue group that had been turned in because the kids went away to college and “mom” wanted to travel. Nice lady. Why didn’t she do the math before she got the dog? The dog was only 3.
And finally, there are lots of shelters out there importing animals from other countries. I’ve met many dogs that came from Mexico, Napal, etc. via animal shelters. Sounds totally crazy, but they’re doing it all the time.

By Lexi R. on Mon, October 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Lexi,

I don’t understand why adopting an animal from a shelter is taking on “someone else’s problem” (interestingly I once had someone say that to me in response to me saying I want to adopt a child—always strange to me when people categorize a living being as a “problem” alluding to them as used or damaged goods, again reinforcing how we have come to treat humans and animals as commodities instead of sentient creatures). Buying from a breeder simply perpetuates the problem of pet overpopulation—and if you read the article you would see that nearly a third to half of dogs surrendered to shelters and animal controls are purebreds and were originally sourced from breeders. So people buying from breeders are contributing mightily to the issue of pet overpopulation and euthanasia in this country. Also, most no-kill shelters and rescues also have policies of reclaiming the animals they adopt out should the person become ill or die for another reason be able to keep their animal. Finally, there is no shelter or rescue I am aware of that imports animals from overseas and you saying that gives me the impression you are woefully informed on this issue. Shelters and AC’s accept surrenders and strays from the local community. They have enough animals here to contend with and most are inundated with animals surrenders while operating on shoe-string budgets.

By Laura Kiesel on Mon, October 29, 2012 at 10:43 am

I don’t want a pet from the shelter. I don’t want to deal with someone else’s problem. Why should I? I want a particular breed for a particular purpose so I purchase from responsible breeders. If I should suddenly die, those breeders would reclaim my dogs and re-home them. Not one would go to a shelter. THAT is responsible dog ownership. Where would the adopted shelter dog go? Back to the shelter to be euthanized? I’ve moved all over the country and have never, ever given up one of my dogs. I refuse to buy into the adopt a shelter dog mentality when those shelters are importing dogs from other nations and putting up for adoption in our country. Shelters are big business. They don’t want to be empty. Animal activists are going after the wrong people and vilifying responsible breeders and owners of purebred dogs.

By Lexi R. on Mon, October 29, 2012 at 9:45 am

When I discovered how many animals were being euthanized I could not believe it. Right away I wanted to do my part to help prevent euthanasia. The first thing I could think of was to look into animal adoption. So I chose an animal shelter that treated animals great and believed in preventing euthanasia as well. http://www.foundanimals.org/pet-adoption

By Quinn on Mon, October 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm

AND ANOTHER THING, WE HAVE TESTED AND RETESTED EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN ON ANIMALS, IT IS UNNECESSARY TO TEST ON THESE POOR ANIMALS,WHAT DID THEY EVER DO TO DESERVE OUR ABUSE? IT’S TIME TO TEST ON DEATH ROW INMATES!!! MAKE THERE LIVES WORTH THE AIR THEY BREATH, THEY SHOULDN’T JUST SIT GET FREE EVERY THING BEFORE THEY DIE, IT JUST ISN’T RIGHT TO TEST ON INESENT ANIMALS AND I DON’T KNOW HOW THE PEOPLE THAT DO TEST ON THEM SLEEP AT NIGHT??? I BELIEVE THEY HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS UPSTAIRS SO TO SPEAK AND ARE COLD AND CRIMINAL IN THE MIND, I THINK THAT’S HOW THEY DO IT!!!!

By erin on Sat, September 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I may piss some people off but here we go people,IT’S TIME TO STOP BREEDING, YES PEOPLE! NOT ANIMALS, THERE’S ENOUGH PEOPLE ON EARTH FOR THREE OF THEM, AND BECAUSE OF THAT THE ECO SYSTEM IS GONE, IT’S TIME FOR SOME ONE TO ADDRESS THE OVER POPULATION PROBLEM, NOT WITH ANIMALS BUT WITH PEOPLE SENSE NO ONE WILL SAY IT I WILL, IT ISN’T NATURAL TO HAVE ONE SPECIES, YES TO THE PURITANS WE ARE ALL ANIMALS!!! AND BY THE WAY THE ONLY ANIMALS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH THAT CAN DESTROY EVERY THING LIKE WE HAVE SO UNCONSCIOUSLY OR A BETTER WORD WOULD BE OBLIVIOUSLY DO TO THE PLANET AND THE LIVING CREATURES AMOUNG US, HOW DARE US TO BE SO UNCONSSCIONABLE TO THE ANIMALS AND THE PLANET LIKE WE’VE BEEN, AND FOR THAT MATTER TO OUR SELVES TREATING ONE ANTHER SO UNKIND, WE CAN’T EVEN BARROW A CUP OF SUGAR FROM OUR NEIGHBORS ANY MORE. I THINK IT’S TIME WE ALL STARTED LOOKING AT OUR ACTIONS MORE, THINK BEFORE I THROW THIS OUT CAN ANYONE USE IT? PEOPLE CAN SAY ANY THING ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!!!

By erin on Sat, September 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm

This is a wonderful article. It is true that many animals at shelters are there because they have been discarded, due to our “waste ethic.” I feel we’ve made progress since I was a kid when our country was killing many more millions of dogs and cats annually than they are today. However, I feel we need to bring our children into the equation if we want a no kill nation. Kids will mimic what they see and learn from parents and teachers.

Exposing children to animals at an early age, through animal center programs & camps can help them learn empathy & compassion. Teaching kids a humane education will go far in bridging the “D is for Dog” drawing, with a living being deserving our respect and care.

I believe teaching our children to respect animals and their life will make a difference.

By Sharon on Tue, September 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Beautiful article! As President of a non-profit - Seniors for Pets, Inc. - that helps needy SW Florida senior citizens pay for basic vet care for their pets - hoping to keep more pets in their homes and out of shelters - I wish more people believed as this author does that how we care for our pets determines how we live on this earth.  Well-done!
Carol North
www.feedingfidoandfluffy.com and www.seniorsforpets.com

By Carol North on Mon, September 24, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I’d also like to point out that I always was bewildered by the fact that people spend $38 billion dollars on the pets that they do have. It’s one thing to provide specialized medical care for your pet. But what about the people who spend so much money on designer clothes, leashes, and other pet accessories? Wouldn’t that money be put to better use at your local no-kill shelter? Trust me, dogs don’t care what trendy label their sweaters come from as long as they have food, shelter, and a loving home.

By GDiFonzo on Mon, September 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Terrific article, Laura. For further reading, I’d recommend Nathan Winograd’s book “Redemption”.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has noted that, for many people, dogs and cats provide a bridge to greater empathy for the animal kingdom in general—not unlike the “gateway” concept you mentioned in your article. Masson then asks flat out, “Why is PETA burning that bridge?” I wonder whether the cavalier “just-euthanize-it” mentality affects the way people see not just domestic pets but also wildlife (and, potentially, each other. If a family member or friend becomes too much of an emotional or physical burden, you just dump them, right? Be a fair-weather friend.)

All in all, I was very glad to see this post.

By GDiFonzo on Mon, September 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm

The last line in this well written article says it all.. and yes, we are failing miserably. Via FB and other social media the world is watching us in the US. Many state they cannot believe the lack of regard we show to our innocent animals here. I for one , am disgusted and quite ready for the needed change to become a compassionate no kill nation.

By Darlene Robinette on Mon, September 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Outlaw puppy mills and pet shops adopt only

By Don Jones on Mon, September 24, 2012 at 9:02 am

Leave a comment

Comments Policy

Remember my personal information?

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

View Posts by Date View Posts by Author

Subscribe
Today

Four issues for just
$10 a year.

cover thumbnail EIJ

Join Now!

 
get tickets to the 15th annual Brower Youth Awards!

0.1585