I love working with my nonprofit animal welfare group Central Georgia CARES. We do many important tasks such as promoting CARES Homeless Pet Clubs, finding lost pets, promoting spay and neuter programs, providing humane education and working against animal cruelty just to name a few.
But one of the most important things we do is try to raise awareness that every life matters. Every life is important. That’s what I think compassion is all about.
There was a little bit of chatter recently about whether attempts should be made to save companion animals in pounds, or should euthanasia be an acceptable form of population control? Of course there are differing opinions on this issue, and some folks are quite passionate about this.
When I started working in animal welfare four years ago, I noticed that euthanasia was a routine part of animal control. It broke my heart so I started to research this. The more I studied, the more I realized exterminating animals in an attempt to manage the overpopulation problem has been done for years.
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But you know what else I learned? Even though this tactic has been used for years, the overpopulation problem continued. As far as I could see, euthanasia did not impact the overpopulation crisis nor did it improve the intake statistics in animal control. It’s apparently not effective in reducing or managing the population.
Through my analysis of this issue, I formed my own opinion. I concluded that this is the only area I know of where an innocent victim, the homeless pet, is punished by being put to death. Was simply being born the crime for which they paid the ultimate price?
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not naive. I know there will always be situations where euthanasia is appropriate. In cases where animals are irreparably injured or are suffering, or if they’re vicious or dangerous, I’ll bet most everyone approves of euthanasia then. But not for adoptable pets as a routine practice.
So we decided to look at humane alternatives to the overpopulation problem. What we learned was engaging the community in a campaign to help save lives while simultaneously promoting the prevention of births has tremendous benefits.
The benefits we experienced were not only for the animals saved and for the births prevented but also by the community cohesion working together on a common goal. Citizens, governmental agencies, businesses and schools were working as a team and felt ownership of the issue.
Not only that, but volunteers were coming out of the woodwork to help. This was unprecedented, but they felt hopeful they could make a positive impact. And they did.
We can’t euthanize our way out of the overpopulation problem, but we can care our way out. And isn’t that really what a compassionate community would prefer?
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