No Kill Does Not Threaten to Kill
Updated: Jun 7, 2019
The all caps headline read, "MATTIE WILL BE EUTHANIZED (sic) IF WE CANNOT FIND HER A HOME!" It appeared above a lengthy text filled with equally disturbing quotes about dogs in animal shelters, like this doozie:
"....pacing like a caged zoo animal from the 70's..."
All of this appeared above a photo of the sweet-looking Mattie - the dog the shelter was threatening to kill - in a post on the Huntsville Animal Services Facebook page.
The response was fast and predictable. Nearly 100 people clicked the "sad" emoji and began typing comments like, "My heart hurts." If the shelter's goal was to inflict pain and sadness on others, mission accomplished. But for Mattie, it proved ineffective. She still needed a home or foster. Yet, the post clearly intended to help Mattie find a home was turning more people off than it was attracting. Unfortunately, failure of this type of "marketing" is more problematic than that, because threatening to kill animals - even if it is couched in a more palpable term like "euthanize" - is a terrible way for an animal shelter to serve as a role model for the community.
Fortunately for Mattie, a local advocate knew what the shelter should have done and did it themselves: She sent an email to a local reporter saying the shelter was in desperate need for fosters and adoptions. That evening, this story appeared on the local news. Mattie was promptly adopted. There was no need to threaten killing to make this happy ending and doing so was an abdication of the leadership role the shelter is supposed to serve in the community.
An additional note: since Huntsville Animal Services was threatening to kill Mattie due to kennel stress, they should probably consider watching the following videos from No Kill Learning that would likely be helpful: What to Do About Kennel Stress in Shelter Dogs
A Funny Look at Barrier Aggression