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21 May 2000 Issue
The No-Kill Dilemma

written by MJ Hall

director of the New England Haven for Animals

Recently, several of the municipal pounds in the Greater Boston area have gone to "no-kill" status. This is wonderful news but I cannot help but greet it with mixed feelings. The Haven is a no-kill organization and I wish more groups and pounds would and could be no-kill, too.

However, there is a pet overpopulation crisis in this area. You can see it every spring as hundreds of "free kittens" appear on bulletin boards and in classified ads. We decry shelters and pounds for euthanizing animals, and yet so many of us have animals who are not spayed or neutered. One man once told me he did not neuter his cat because he rarely let him out, and it is not like he would come home pregnant. No, but someone else's cat will. While some animals are not altered because of owner ignorance, many others remain intact because of the often high veterinary costs of spaying and neutering.

The reality is that no-kill pounds and shelters have limited capacities. When a no-kill facility is full, it is full. That means that it cannot accept any more animals, and people must then take their pets to a "kill" shelter. Desperate owners who have tried everywhere, and do not want to send their pet to a "kill" shelter where he might not make it, are forced to do so. This is an awful situation for all involved.

I firmly believe that when any group elects to be a no-kill facility, that group must also make every reasonable attempt to curb the pet population in its demographic. Some of the recent no-kill towns are host to some of the most expensive veterinarians around. While we can say that a responsible pet owner must know and understand the costs of pet ownership, the reality is that there are pet owners who cannot spend a $100 or more to get their cat neutered or spayed. Other people are caring for strays and feral colonies, and the cost of altering so many animals can be prohibitive.

The Haven does not adopt out any unaltered cats or dogs. That is the rule. No vouchers or deposit system. Every animal is altered before eligible for adoption, including kittens as early as 8-10 weeks. I would call upon all no-kill pounds and shelters to do the same. Ask your vets to learn early spay/neuter procedures. Don't adopt out any animals that are not altered. There can never be enough homes when there are so many animals.

It is wonderful to go home at night knowing that The Haven is a no-kill facility. But so long as there are so many homeless and unwanted animals out there, it will never be enough. We must work to end the population crisis. Only then will we truly achieve a home for every animals.

The New England Haven for Animals

11 Elton St.

Boston, MA 02125

(617) 288-5673

www.haven4animals.org 

info@haven4animals.org 

Source: Paw Prints

The New England Haven for Animals' newsletter

Fall/Winter 1999

info@haven4animals.org

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