Written by PETA
In college, I volunteered at a small animal shelter in Ohio. I never thought much about the shelter's policies. Only later did I realize how much suffering its limited-admission policy caused. All "no kill" animal shelters—big or small—are limited-admission facilities.
The dogs no one wanted sat for years (yes, years) in solitary concrete and metal cages. The only bright spot in their day was when a volunteer would walk them for 15 minutes and give them a bit of time to wander in a dirt pen outdoors. Otherwise, they spent their days and nights confined to cages. On weekends, when everyone else was in the park or at the movies … on holidays, when everyone else was with their families and opening presents … 365 days a year, they sat in a cage. Occasionally, a puppy would be brought in and quickly adopted, but many of the older, bigger dogs sat hopelessly month after month.
I befriended a dog named Tigger, who probably weighed 80 pounds, was very cute, and had a wonderful personality. He was one of the sweetest dogs. (I suspect that he wasn't adopted because of his size, because he was a mutt, and because he didn't look like a dog you'd see in a magazine. I would have adopted him without hesitation, but animals weren't allowed in my dorm.) It broke my heart to leave him after our walks because I could see how lonely he was and how our walks were all that he looked forward to each day.
Looking back, I think of all the Tiggers languishing in limited-admission shelters and all the animals who are turned away from those shelters only to suffer on the streets or in abusive households. I wonder why people think those fates are preferable to giving animals a chance to be adopted at an open-admission shelter and, if no home can be found, a peaceful, dignified, painless exit in a loving person's arms. I sympathize with the folks who run limited-admission shelters—as I saw, many of them really do care about animals. But they often have such a fanatical fear of euthanasia that they will let an animal's spirit die for lack of joy or love or a home, just to keep them breathing for breathing's sake. The limited-admission model has proved over and over again that it isn't the answer—it's just sweeping the problem under the rug.
I have so much gratitude for people who work in open-admission shelters and have the thankless task of having to euthanize the animals they have fed, walked, cared for, and loved while constantly dealing with the question "Why aren't you 'no kill'?" We all need to speak out in support of shelters that accept every animal in need and support aggressive spay-and-neuter and "adopt—don't buy" campaigns. And next time you are chatting with staffers or volunteers at an open-admission shelter, thank them for their courage and compassion.
Written by Chris Holbein, associate director of special projects
Before coming to PETA, I worked at a small animal shelter in
rural South Carolina, where I saw firsthand why it's crucial for shelters to
accept every animal in need instead of turning animals away, as most so-called "no-kill" shelters
One day, a man showed up with a carrier containing a mother
cat and five kittens. They were bony, greasy, and crawling with fleas. "This
is the best cat in the world," the man said. "This is her 18th
litter of kittens!" I had to practically bite off my tongue to avoid
bluntly informing him of how badly he'd contributed to the animal overpopulation and homelessness
Instead, I politely accepted the cats and told him we'd sterilize his animals
for free if he got any more.
Another time, a woman walked up carrying an old flour bag and
a fruit bag, both of which were knotted shut. The bags contained terrified, unsocialized cats.
"These cats are taking over—you gotta take 'em," she said. On another
occasion, we were called out to pick up nine newborn puppies who were still
nursing off their dead mother's body under the house where their owners lived.
And I will never forget the day that a large, rough-looking
man raced up in an old truck with an elderly dog in the back. I met him outside
with a give-up form, waiting to hear his excuse. Instead, I got a rare glimpse
of kindness: The dog wasn't his. He'd found her looking ill by some train tracks,
carried her to his truck, and sped to the shelter for help.
An examination revealed that she was suffering badly, possibly
from congestive heart failure, and I explained that the best I could give her
was a peaceful passing.
The man agreed and insisted on staying while I wrapped the dog in a towel, carried
her gently to an exam table, kissed her head, and gave her a lethal injection
to end her suffering. If not for him, this poor angel would have surely died
slowly and in agony.
Whenever I hear "no-kill" propaganda,
I think of all the animals we helped at that open-admission shelter. Turning them
away would have meant their suffering and certain, painful deaths, and caging them indefinitely
is never a humane option. Some are too broken, too old, or just plain unwanted
and will not be adopted. Euthanasia was and remains a mercy for many animals,
although it breaks the hearts of those who choose to provide this kindness. What
gives me hope is that spaying
can drastically reduce the number of animals who end up homeless. Please, if
you haven't already, have your animals sterilized as soon as possible—and urge
everyone you know to do so as well.
Written by Teresa
Chagrin, PETA's animal care & control specialist
dog, Pete, attracts lots of attention on our walks—he jumps for joy like his
legs are made of pogo sticks, seeming to defy gravity as he launches his
sizable frame skyward. Along with "Did you teach him to do that?!"
(answer: no), people are always asking me, "Where did you get him?" I
guess they just assume that I bought Pete from a breeder, because his flowing
mane resembles a golden retriever's. It's fun to see their surprise when I tell
them that Pete is a mutt and that I adopted him from an animal shelter.
is "Adopt a Shelter Dog" Month, and if you're ready to commit to
caring for a canine companion, there is no better place to find your new best
friend than a shelter or rescue group. Shelters
are overflowing with dogs of all ages, personalities, and sizes—mutts and
purebreds. Just make sure that your lifestyle,
activity level, and experience will make you a good fit for the animal you're
considering. For a nominal adoption fee—hundreds less than what breeders
typically charge—your new family member will likely go home neutered, vaccinated,
dewormed, and microchipped.
has become such an important part of my life that it's difficult to think about
what might have happened if I hadn't adopted him. Every year, shelters must euthanize
3 to 4 million dogs and cats because breeders, pet stores, and people who don't
have their animals sterilized bring more animals into a world that is already tragically short on good homes.
Let's help change that this October by having our animal companions spayed and neutered
and opening our hearts and homes to a lovable, one-of-a-kind dog from a
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
Labor Day meant a long weekend for many nine-to-fivers, but some laborers
can't close up shop and forget about their jobs, even for a day. For animal
shelter workers, the stream of battered and bruised animals in need of refuge
never ends. Few people have a more emotionally challenging job than those who
punch in every day knowing that they will likely have to euthanize the animals
they've devoted themselves to helping.
We can all help ease shelter workers' burdens by doing our part to slow the
stream of homeless animals. That means always having our cats and dogs spayed
or neutered and adopting animals instead of buying them from breeders or pet
As one who has spent years volunteering at my local animal shelter, I know
that shelter staffers are some of the hardest-working people around. They scrub
poop-strewn kennels, comb animals who are matted and crawling with fleas, and
give belly rubs to dogs who have been chained up like old bicycles their entire
lives. They heft dogs onto examination tables, unload vans of 50-pound bags of
food, get bitten by petrified dogs who have known nothing but cruelty, and get
scratched by cats who are frantic after having left the home they've always
known to live in a cage surrounded by other crying felines. They cuddle cats,
throw balls for dogs, slip treats through cage bars, speak kind words, and give
many scratches behind the ears. They do their best to make the animals' stay at
the shelter as full of love as possible.
But shelters don't have a magic wand that they can wave to create loving
homes for all the animals who need them. Those who work in open-admission
shelters must also perform the thankless, gut-wrenching task of holding the
animals they've played with and loved in their arms while the euthanasia needle
slides into a vein and the light in their eyes softly flickers out. These
people are heroes for doing the right thing for animals even though it takes
such a toll on them personally.
Breeders, pet stores, and people who haven't had their animals spayed or
neutered put shelter workers in this tragic position. Every new puppy or kitten
who is brought into the world takes the chance for a home away from one of the
thousands of animals waiting in shelters. And every new puppy or kitten means
another broken heart for a brave shelter worker.
Shelter workers' jobs will never be cushy, but if more people spay and
neuter their animals before that first litter and if more people adopt the
eager-to-please dogs and cats waiting in shelters instead of buying animals, we
could dramatically reduce the number of animals euthanized for lack of a good
home. We could save thousands of lives—and make shelter workers' lives a little
bit easier too.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.