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  • Writer's pictureNo Kill Movement

Should we kill homeless pets on the 1st day they come to the shelter?

How many days should a homeless pet stay at an animal shelter before killing them? Earlier this year I was approached by a person who worked for a state lobbying organization and told (not even asked) “you would rather see a dog suffer in a kennel forever.” I replied by saying, killing and suffering in a kennel are not the only two choices for homeless pets in shelters. But I should have asked, “Which day is it OK to kill a homeless pet?”

Which day is the day that killing a healthy or treatable homeless pet is actually a humane choice?

Is it when they have been in the shelter for 100 days?

I am consistently amazed that this is a valid question for some people. Given the fact that I believe I could lock up any one of them in a fairly bleak room, and as long as they could eat and sleep, they would be pretty relieved about not being killed. They would still want out. They would hope they would be allowed to leave and go to a loving home. They would hope someone is working on that outcome. But, on what day would they WANT to be killed?

Is it the 90th day? Is this a good humane day to kill a homeless pet?

I don’t think it is a better choice to kill. I think there are better choices than living in a kennel. But while homeless pets do live most of their days in kennels while waiting for a loving home, if the shelter does their job correctly, they don’t spend ALL their time inside there. They will have fresh food and water. They will have toys and other enrichment activities. Homeless pets can have some pretty good times while in a temporary shelter when the shelter does what it takes to improve each pet's stay.

So, should we kill them on the 75th day?

There are walks from volunteers, playgroups with other dogs, cat community rooms for cats. With robust adoption programs and long shelter adoption hours, there are people constantly in the kennels meeting them. There are volunteers and staff that can make sure dogs that are acting unsocial get attention to teach them to be more social, secure, and ultimately more attractive to potential adopters. There are sleepovers at staff homes.

But maybe we should kill them on the 50th day?

In good shelters, there is clean water, fresh food and a clean cage, a warm bed, and sounds and smells (good ones, like other animals and people noises and smells to discover). There are foster homes that could take them in; and, in creative programs, pets are rotated between fosters if there are not enough or to get them varied socialization.

Should we kill them on 10th day, though?

Or should we not kill them. Ever. No matter what. Should we make their lives as good as possible as long as they have to stay in a shelter? Should we make sure the shelter they live in is as hospitable as possible? Should we make sure we work with rescue groups and individual fosters to get them out of the shelter while they wait for their loving forever home? For those who believe a kennel is cruel, wrong and unbearable:

What is a good day to kill a homeless pet?

Should we kill homeless pets on the 1st day they come to the shelter?

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