Save a life

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
Immanuel Kant

Approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized every year in America alone, one every 13 seconds.

Euthanasia is designed to “put down”, or kill, animals who are sick. However, 2.4 million of these animals are healthy and adoptable.

Actions by government-run shelters such as the Memphis Animal Services (MAS) have come to light. The shelter has an 83% euthanasia rate, one of the highest in the country. Most of the animals euthanized in these high-kill shelters are euthanized for trivial reasons.

“I think that the use of euthanasia has gotten way out of hand. Dogs are being put down for anything now. Of course, there are certain situations where it is the best thing for the pet, but there are so many options that should be considered first,” Camryn Carlson said, “I’ve never heard of a high-kill shelter with a valid excuse as to why they are putting down so many dogs. It’s really depressing to think of all of the dogs that have had their chances of a good life taken away because of a lack of space or people who care.”

Incidents involving employees from high-kill shelters such as MAS committing animal abuse have also been reported. Many of these instances stem from weak or no background checks on the high-kill shelter employees.

Like many other high-kill shelters, MAS reports the reason for euthanizing such an immense amount of animals as overpopulation. Overpopulation is the most common excuse, especially in the South.

Even though Tennessee requires sterilization in order to adopt from a shelter, Tennessee has one of the lowest spay and neuter rates in the nation since these laws are usually overlooked. Tennessee and Arkansas have the most puppy mills in South, which means that people can buy puppies from breeders who breed as a business and, in this process, sterilization laws are ignored and dogs are bred uncontrollably. Animals kept at puppy mills or high-kill shelters are usually neglected and starved and kept in violent or unhygienic situations.

“Since so many people are irresponsible with their dogs and don’t get them sterilized, there [are] a lot of puppies being born by stray dogs, which increases the population of mixed breeds. Since there are so many mixed breed dogs and they are generally less desirable, they are stuck in shelters, where they normally get euthanized. People always want a fancy purebred dog. They pay a lot more money for them, when there are so many perfect dogs at a shelter for a much, much lower price,” Carlson said.

Pitbulls and mixed breeds are often results of over breeding and non-sterilization; hence, they are frequently found in shelter cages. 48% of the dogs euthanized in 2014 were either a pitbull or pit mix.

“With the culture fighting that was built in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there has been a lot negative media coverage involving pit bulls. Like we see with people, people who are unwilling to understand root causes of issues want to pick a group to blame,” Ema Wagner said, “The same goes for pit bulls. It comes from a place of ignorance and carelessness. People who want to adopt a pit are often prevented from doing so because some homeowner insurance will redact their policy if they adopt a ‘bully breed.’ People who rent homes or apartments can be evicted if they possess a pit.”

Homeowner insurance usually rises if one owns a pitbull. In several states, owning a pitbull is illegal.

Often when one finds a stray dog, the first response is to call 911 and involve MAS. However, calling no-kill shelters, such as Memphis Pets Alive, Memphis Humane Society, and Sunny Meadows, is a better and more humane solution since these shelters do not regard the animals’ lives as trivial and proceed to unnecessary euthanasia. (See Memphis Humane Society for information regarding intakes and reports.)

No-kill shelters have been established to combat the issue of euthanasia and only euthanize an animal if absolutely necessary. These shelters promote sterilization as the solution to euthanizing unnecessarily. Sterilizing, fostering and adopting can save thousands and thousands of lives from euthanasia.

“One dog can produce hundreds of puppies through the course of its life since the gestation period is only two months long… From just fostering eight puppies, we have saved the lives of 536,000 in six years,” Wagner said.

Despite all the excuses one may present, euthanizing a healthy and adoptable animal should never be an option.

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”
Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

-Tanya Tandon

Share this to spread the information. Activism through education achieves wonders.


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