Authorities reportedly made a gut-wrenching discovery this month in a barn near Clarksville, Tennessee, where a “no-kill” animal “rescue” called RRR Service Dogs kept dogs it had “saved” from shelters: 37 bags filled with dead dogs, their remains so badly decomposed that it was impossible to determine the cause of their deaths or even how many bodies were in the bags. According to Sheriff’s Sergeant Sean Ryan, “They were so far gone, you couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was horrible.”
Nearly 40 live dogs were also found in the barn, locked in stalls or cages and covered with waste, many of them with no food or water. Some dogs were emaciated, and many didn’t even have room to stand up or turn around. Authorities also found the rotting remains of four puppies who were allegedly locked in cages and left to starve to death at a home vacated by RRR Service Dogs’ operator.
Here we go again. Not a week goes by—and sometimes not even a day—without a media report of yet another example of a disturbing nationwide epidemic: In communities where shelters and public officials are pressured to end euthanasia at all costs, animals are often simply handed out the door to anyone who will take them—including hoarders, psychopaths, negligent owners, and people who place the animals in other abusive situations. Every week, we hear about animals found starved to death or otherwise fatally neglected at “rescues” and “fosters” that claim to “save” animals from euthanasia.
For example, the operator of Gigi’s Rescue in Florida was recently arrested for allegedly hoarding more than 200 dogs and cats in deplorable conditions inside a small warehouse. Investigators reported that most of the animals had been obtained from other private “rescue agencies,” many of which had received dogs from Miami-Dade County Animal Services.
Wishful thinking and shuffling cats and dogs around from pillar to post—or frying pan to fire—won’t solve the animal-homelessness crisis. Such approaches instead put animals in danger of dying from neglect and cruelty at unregulated and difficult-to-monitor “rescues” and foster homes. Ending euthanasia at animal shelters can’t be humanely or sustainably achieved by pushing animals out the back door to anyone who will take them while countless animals continue to stream through the front door. The way to truly become a “no-kill” community is to work at the roots of the problem by first becoming a “no-birth” one through breeding bans and mandatory spay-and-neuter laws.